We need our villages

I am a mother and, God knows, I need help. A while ago, in the process of putting my kids, the groceries and myself in the car in pouring rain, I forget my handbag in the Woollies trolley, only to discover this the following morning.  Anxiously I pray, “God, please help!”  Nowadays, that is all I pray, it seems, because I am incapable of doing motherhood, ‘husband-hood’ and’ family-hood’ on my own.

I get to Woollies and even though me and my kids pray for help, I tell myself there is no way that I would find my handbag after all this time. I get sent from point to point in the shop, no handbag. I get back to the car, all hope lost and start crying upon the realization that I would have to replace everything in it.  My son, bless his soul, says he still hopes that I would find my handbag.  Just as I’m about to turn on the ignition, a woman come running from the shop, shouting, “Wait!  There is a handbag!”  Yes, my handbag.  I can’t stop saying thank you to the staff.  And the manager tells me, “We value you.”

It takes a village. And I often find myself believing the lie that my husband and I am the sole members of our village.  Firstly, because we live in the city and have no immediate or extended family nearby, we are solely responsible for raising our kids.  I do believe God gave us close family and friends to help us raise our kids, not only because our kids come to grips with what love, care and acceptance truly means, but also because it helps my husband and me to have more perspective when it comes to our kids.  The older my children become, the more we long for and value our nearest and dearest family’s input in their lives.  Why?  Because we know that they love to spend time with our kids, and vice versa, and carry their best interests at heart, especially their grandparents.

Secondly, in our country with its history, our men must often work to the point of burnout to prove they are irreplaceable. That is our reality, in any case.  We mothers must keep all the rest in place and it is not easy.  Many of the roles that we have to juggle aren’t even ours to take on.  But it has to be done, no question about it.  We struggle to ask for help, to offer it and to accept it as we think it a sign of weakness and not having things together.  But to swallow our pride, to admit that we are struggling and to ask for help are signs of immense inner strength.

That said, the upside of not having immediate family nearby that help with raising our children is that my husband and I do value the village we have so much more. I am profoundly grateful for my closest friends and my children’s teachers.  And I view the time my children get to spend with nearest family, although not often, as God’s grace, love and dreams for families in action.  The Woollies manager’s words “we value you,” touched me deeply.  Help and value goes hand in hand.  We value each other when we ask for help, when we offer it and accept it.  We reach out a hand that shows that we really see each other and we become a village, connected with the golden thread of God’s grace and love for one another.  Even more, we start trusting one another with what is most precious t us.  We develop a deep empathy for one another and are much more sensitive to each other’s struggles.  These are qualities that I hope to see in my kids, also.

With the handbag-ordeal, even Woollies became part of my village. Well, on second thought, it has been for a long time with their delicious readymade meals.  God uses the most interesting building blocks to establish my village.  When all the dust settled, the Woollies manager tells me and my kids, “God is good, all the time”!  God truly knows, I can’t do this on my own.

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