It Takes a Village

Seven miles. That was the distance between the front door of the house I grew up in and the dorm I lived in for three out of my four years of college. Seven miles.

After graduation, I wanted space. I wanted to test my wings and see if I could fly. And so we did. The hubby and I — a month and a half after our wedding, three and a half months after my graduating college — packed up a U-Haul and the cat, left our families in the rear view mirror and headed to Washington, DC. I maybe stopped crying around Petersburg, VA.
Six years later, with enough for a moving truck instead of the old U-Haul, we packed up again and headed south to Atlanta. This time, to fulfill the hubby’s dream. I maybe stopped crying around Petersburg, VA.
I always thought we’d end up back in North Carolina. I wasn’t sure when, it just seemed a given. Then we had Peanut. Then we built a life. Then we had Pumpkin. Here we are six years after moving to Atlanta, 12 years after leaving NC on that hot, tear-filled Labor Day weekend and I have no idea when or if we’ll ever make it back to the old home state.
And that’s okay. Most days.
But then I see how much our families miss by not seeing Peanut and Pumpkin on a frequent basis. Sure, I try to keep our families updated through a family blog, pictures, emails, phone calls and Skype, but it’s not the same, is it? And then there are those selfish moments. Those moments when I wish I didn’t have to worry about who was going to watch the kids so I could run to the dentist or the grocery store or have a regular date night with the hubby without breaking the bank. Those moments when I wish we could share not only a holiday, milestone or challenge in person with our families, but a random Wednesday night.
Peanut had a play date with a friend from school today. His mom is from Hungary. Although my family is a lot closer than an international flight, we were able to share in the pain of raising kids away from family help. We laughed about how great a Sunday dinner prepared by our moms would be, where we wouldn’t have to do the dishes but could just go home afterwards. We daydreamed about calling someone for pinch hitting help on those rough days. We commiserated that those with help nearby will never understand just how good they have it, that we’d never take it for granted.
And then we talked about our neighborhoods. Our mom friends. Our girl friends. Our kids’ school. I realized that not only does it take a village to raise a child, but that I have an awesome village. I have a circle of friends who have dropped whatever they are doing to help me in a pinch, as I have done for them. I have a network of neighbors to provide referrals on services, babysitters, preschools and more. I have women in my life who have provided me the honest advice and nonjudgmental support about becoming a better mom while also accepting the mother I am. I have a community that includes stimulating activities and educational opportunities for both my boys.
I’m not saying that those who live close to their families don’t have these things, but there is a certain level of dependence this familial independence creates. The village takes on a whole new level of importance.
As much as I wish I was physically closer to our families, I take solace in knowing that I am creating a village that will teach, support and enhance Peanut’s and Pumpkin’s childhoods. And that will just have to do.
Until the next time I hear James Taylor’s “Carolina In My Mind.” Man, that song makes me homesick every time.
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