My son will be sixteen on Friday.
Can the world stops spinning for a second?
What, when, where, how, and for goodness sake why?
Sixteen years ago, the world was about to end in Y2K. People had bought up forty-two thousand cans of green beans in hope of fending off starvation. They stockpiled ammunition, and some moved their entire households to different, more remote regions of our little world. It was like the zombie apocalypse was coming, only I don’t think zombies were popular yet.
I didn’t have any food stockpiled, because, um, pregnant…duh. I ate everything in sight.
I really didn’t care if the world was ending. All I could think about was pregnancy ending.
My son will be sixteen on Friday.
* My mind is officially blown. *
Before I had kids (that time of my life when my jeans were actually skinny and my couch didn’t have sippy-cup stains), I heard people talking about how it takes a village to raise a child.
I thought they were wrong. It takes a parent to raise a kid. If you’re lucky, you get a mother, a father, and maybe a fuzzy puppy, but why the need for a whole village?
Then I had a son. Twenty-three months later, I had a daughter.
I’m sixteen years (on Friday) into this parenting gig, and I am saying, it takes a village.
Can you do it with one parent? Absolutely.
My kids have two parents. All their grandparents are alive, and they are blessed to even have more than one generation of aunts and uncles, but my kids need every one of them, and more. So do I.
They need teachers, and friends, and youth leaders, and old men and women, and young people to speak truth into their lives. They need a village to keep them accountable, to encourage them, to teach them, to give them their two-cents. They need to be loved, and they need a village of people to love.
I knew I needed a village the first day I brought my baby boy home from the hospital. A friend stopped by and showed me how to give him a bath without drowning him.
Infancy and the toddler years reminded me of being in college. I knew there would be an exam the next day, but I wasn’t sure what would be on the test. I never quite knew what my kids were going to do.
My son had a preschool teacher that influenced all of our lives. Dramatic? Perhaps a little, but we still quote that preschool teacher. She taught my son life-lessons, and in the nicest way possible, taught us how to be better parents.
I look back over the last sixteen years of my son’s life, and I see the village. I see those who came along and spoke truth to us. I see all the lessons we learned as parents, and I see the people who had a part in making my son who he is today.
I wouldn’t want to parent without them. And, quite honestly, I’ve often wished we would have had a tighter-knit village.
A village gives us perspective. It opens our minds and challenges our beliefs. A village picks up our slack. They reinforce our values. A village sees our needs and meets them. A village laughs with us, and cheers us on. A village sees clearly when our judgement is clouded. A village helps us know right from wrong. A village stands in the gap. They do what we cannot. A village teaches. A village listens.
Over time, the people who make up our village change. We’ve moved, living in different communities. Some are in our lives for a season, while others remain present through the years; however, one thing is constant.
My son won’t stop needing a village just because he’s turning sixteen. In fact, he may need a village now more than ever. This life our kids live is not easy. He’ll need them at eighteen, and even at twenty-one. He’ll need a village for life.
It’s called community. We weren’t meant to do this life alone.
When my son turns sixteen on Friday, I’ll be proud of all he’s become, and I’ll be thankful for all those who have been part of his life.
Does it take a village to raise a child?
I think it does.
16 Things I Love About My Son
(a tradition for birthdays)
- His hugs.
- His ability to outsmart me.
- His humor.
- His concern for others.
- His drawings.
- His confidence.
- His quick smile.
- His blue eyes.
- His black and white way of thinking.
- His desire to follow the rules.
- His single-mindedness. (Okay, sometimes this drives me crazy too!)
- His willingness to help.
- His easy way of telling people he loves them.
- His self-control.
- His heart for God.
- His desire to please his parents.
If you’d like to read more of my thoughts on community, head on over to my new creative project BloxomBlooms.com. I’m talking about shopping locally, and all the really cool stuff our neighbors make.