Parenting in Community
After living abroad for three years in community based cultures, I was nervous about what daily life would look like as I attempted to parent my toddler “alone” as my husband persevered through a very time-intensive Bible study program. Then one day, my fears came true as I lost control of my toddler in a supermarket. As I stumbled around with my 8-month pregnant belly, I chased my toddler down aisles and aisles with a cart, all while attempting to maintain control of the cart, keep my purse in sight and beg my toddler to return. Along my frazzled journey in the store, my eyes met faces of disgust, judgement and amusement. As I glanced through all of these faces, not one stopped to help. Now, I can laugh as I picture this giant pregnant woman waddling around with a toddler laughing hysterically! At the time, however, I felt alone.
This is when I realized, for the first time, how difficult Western moms truly have it.
If this had happened here in the Middle East, someone would have probably picked my child up and placed them in my cart. Someone may have bribed her with a balloon. Someone would have watched my cart so I could chase her, someone would have blocked the way so she would not run any farther. For the first time, I was mothering without a community, and I had no idea what to do. I needed help!
We often hear the phrase “It takes a village!” and I believe we can all vehemently agree this is true! In order to create a village, however, we must do two very important things: allow the village to help and to simply be the village ourselves.
Allowing the Village
As moms, it is so hard to admit when we need help. Sometimes, in our sleep deprived states, we don’t even realize the help that we need! In Second Corinthians, Paul encourages the local church by saying:
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”
2 Corinthians 9:8
God provides us, in abundance, what we need to do this good work of motherhood. Sometimes we must accept it by saying YES. God can and does use the fellow believers around us to encourage and help us. Oftentimes, however, we let fear and pride interfere with this help.
“Amy offered to do my laundry…. But I couldn’t let her see how messy my house is!”
“A few ladies wanted to cook meals, but I didn’t want to inconvenience them because of my food restrictions.”
“She offered to take the kids with her, but I just couldn’t do that to her, she is already so busy!”
I believe I am guilty of all of the examples above!
Sometimes, we treat motherhood as a badge of honor, boasting in all of the things we are able to accomplish on our own. In reality, however, this is not a badge of honor – it is a badge of pride.
If we truly want the help of the village, we have to say yes when they offer help. When we humble ourselves enough to say yes, it will encourage other mothers to do the same.
Be the Village
In order to have a village, we must first be the village. In Galatians 6:2, we are instructed to carry each other’s burdens as it is in this way that we fulfill the law of Christ. So many times, I have found myself searching for my village and becoming so frustrated that I forgot that I am still instructed to be the village for others. I am not just to look for others who can carry my burdens – I am to carry the burdens of others! This means I can (and should!) pray. First and foremost, I can take time out of each day to pray for the mothers around me.
In addition, I should look for ways I can serve these mothers around me. I can double the dinner recipe, and bless a busy mom with a prepared meal that week. When I am taking my girls to the park, I can ask my neighbor if I can bring hers as well. When I see a toddler having a meltdown, I can encourage the mother by reminding her that she isn’t alone and she isn’t doing anything wrong. Being the village simply means loving the mothers around us, even if it doesn’t look like they need help on the outside
Motherhood is beautiful, but it’s hard. I praise God daily for the way he has designed the ultimate village (the Church) to work together to ease the burdens of His beloveds.
What about you?
Do you have a village? How can you be the village to another mother today?