Growth Spurts: It Takes a Village
I used to kind-of laugh at the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” But that was before I became a mother and realized how true that statement is. I, for one, could never make it through motherhood alone.
During the first days and weeks of having a newborn, I was so thankful for my friends who cared for me in a very practical way by providing meals for my family. They knew how much time and energy a newborn consumes and knew that it would be a great relief for me not to have to think about cooking. I was also blessed to have my mother and my mother-in-law come and stay with us a few days each to help out with cooking, cleaning, baby-holding, question-answering, and anything else we needed. Another huge source of support came from my sister and my friends who were also moms and still had the struggles of life-with-a-newborn fresh on their minds. Their understanding, encouragement, advice, and non-judgmental attitudes were really important to me during that time.
As we moved into the toddler and preschooler phase (and added a couple of newborns along the way), I was thankful for friends who offered to babysit for free, so that I could have a few moments to myself or go on a date with my husband. I was thankful for other moms who offered me voices of reason and sanity when dealing with potty training (my absolute least favorite part of parenting) and who promised me that my child would eventually desire to deposit all pee and poop into the toilet. Those same mom friends encouraged me to be consistent with discipline, realistic with expectations, and abundant with love and laughter.
The elementary school years have come along, and now I benefit greatly from moms who are currently “in the trenches” with me–our kids going through the same classes, extracurricular activities, relationship issues, and growth spurts, along with other issues and decisions pertinent to this age. Of course, I still continue to glean from the wisdom of moms who are a stage or two ahead of me–wisdom they have gained from trial and error, cause and effect, and just plain hindsight (which we all know is 20/20).
And now we are dipping our toes into the waters of the teenage years. I’ve been working ahead on this one–reading, observing, taking mental notes, remembering my own teenage years, and talking to other moms of teenagers. Unfortunately, teenagers tend to get a bad rap, and we hear lots of “Just wait till they’re teenagers!” I know that the teenage years can certainly be challenging, but I don’t want to dread or fear them. Thankfully, I have some friends who have encouraged me about these years ahead, telling me that they can actually be some of the best years of parenting! My own mother has told me how much she enjoyed our teenage years. (At least, I think that’s what she said…) No doubt I will continue to receive encouragement, advice, and helping hands from my other mom friends as we journey through these years together. And no doubt these will pass by just as swiftly as the first 12 years have.
As I stated before, I could never make it through motherhood alone. I depend on my support system of family and friends. But mostly, I could never parent even as well as I do without my wonderful husband Kevin. We have been a team since the day we said “I do,” and this teamwork is what makes us work. Our strengths and weaknesses balance each other out; we help each other with consistency in parenting; we always back each other up; we love and respect each other (and our kids see it); and we communicate about everything. Oh, and I keep him on schedule, while he makes sure I have fun! It’s a good system. And not a day goes by that I don’t consider how blessed I am to have such a loving, supportive, and involved husband, who views fatherhood as one of the most important things he’ll ever do in this life.
This combination of my husband, my family, and my friends makes up my “village,” and I am immensely thankful for all of their help in raising Callie, Caleb, and Katie.
Carrie Bevell Partridge and her family have a hut in Ridgeland, MS, but their village extends all over the world.