How big and supportive is your child’s village?

I’ve always heard this ancient African proverb It takes a village to raise a child being bandied about. But until this weekend it never really meant anything to me. I thought it was beautiful and very appropriate but that’s where it ended.

DH and I were navel-gazing this weekend and one of the questions we couldn’t answer was why our families never just popped in or called to say we’re fetching Thomas for a few hours or drop Thomas for a few hours and you guys get some shut-eye or whatever.

I recall coming to after my C-section (I had to be put under because my anaesthetic was wearing off) and catching a glimpse of my husband sitting in the nursery with Thomas tucked under his T-shirt and looking so frail and vulnerable – it was as if he was a little boy protecting his even littler brother. Broke my already mushy heart. Don’t want to even think of where he was in his head… Wife in recovery (the last of me he saw was a very dead looking me) and baby son frantically clinging to his chest and trying to find a full nipple. (shame) I’ve found myself wondering… where was our village then? Why wasn’t MIL there for her eldest son? Why wasn’t my Dad there to see if everything’s ok like he usually does. Why did they all just wait for the call that Thomas was there and made their way to the hospital after the call?

We came to the following conclusion: Both DH and I have younger siblings who are needy, not mature, who made big mistakes in life so far, etc, etc. We (as the eldest) were always relied upon to be sorted, mature, instinctively know right from wrong and never NEED our parents as they’re too busy with the younger wayward ones. Another one of those societal pressure things… I’m really starting to hate this Society and it’s pressures. Society says you’re supposed to know from the point of conception exactly what to do and when to do it and if you don’t then you suck and you might as well give your child up for adoption or sell it to a sweatshop in China.

As a result we’ve been trying SO hard to be everything we think and are guided to be by societal pressure and our parents that we gave off this SUPER SORTED, SUPER UNNEEDY and SUPER STAYAWAY vibe. No wonder we’ve been buckling and just about managing to still know each other. Thomas has been the centre of our universe and we almost lost ourselves and each other along the way but no more, we tell you.

It’s time for Lord Muck’s village to step in and help. I made a plea on FB yesterday and I already have three babysitters lined up whom we love and trust and who’s prepared to take care of the beast in his own habitat!

I really want to give Society a kick up the … Did any of you fall for Society’s not-so-funny joke or are you all sorted with the village thing?


30 thoughts on “How big and supportive is your child’s village?

  1. durbandiva

    Unfortunately my villge is now spread around the world 😦 I am also the eldest though and completely get always being the sorted one and apparently never needing help. It is partly my own fault – i never ask and very rarely trust others to get it right LOL!

  2. ludditelass

    Sjoe, Shell, your post and Diva’s comment both really struck a chord/nerve with me. I also don’t have a village. I don’t get any help from anyone that I haven’t paid to do it (read SuperNanny). I’m also the eldest and my sisters live on other continents. I’m also assumed to be the sorted one who doesn’t need help. But I have to acknowledge my own role in this: I HATE asking for help as if doing so is an admission of failure. Yikes, clearly what I really need is to get over myself! 🙂

  3. crey

    I left my village and moved to the city… No one to help out… I am also the eldest so is Husband and everyone just assume we have everything under control… I also rarely ask for help, because I truly do not want to look like a failure and that I sometimes cannot cope with everything. I need and want to be s Super mommy and wife…I think I am also going to put a plea on FB and see if I can get a few willing babysitters for a morning or so.

  4. rochelle.barrish

    Charlotte, why do we do this to ourselves? If there’s a next time, I’m so asking for help from the word GO!

  5. rochelle.barrish

    That’s so unfair on us you, know? I really hope not to do the same thing to my kids should I have more than one.

  6. hopefulmom

    I also suffer from oldest child syndrome – saying that, my family lives up country. Dh’s mom is a HUGE help, but she lives in Paarl so not so easy to just drop my son for an afternoon or overnight.

  7. ebonyandivory

    Hmm, very interesting, I think Angel is fairly lucky, there is a whole village loving her, after initial rejection, but the real important peeps, the real family they were a bit absent. MIL was super and also friends. Not that we have 3 babysitting options. lol. I would also gladly look after Tom if only I was close enough. Angel would play him so tired…:)

  8. nusha

    I don’t have a huge village either, just the help I’m paying and my mum. My mum would never refuse to help if I need it and she stayed with me for 4 weeks after the munchkin was born and is coming up for the world cup to babysit when we go to the matches. I am the younger sibling but have always been the “sorted” one. My brother (6 years older) lives with my mum, no job, no prospects (for more than a year now) and i support them both fully (my mum gets a small government pension but thats it). Mum refuses to move in with me cos she knows I won’t support him if she leaves. He doesn’t want to leave durban cos he “doesn’t like” Jhb and there is nowhere to fish here. And why should he get a job when his lacky sister is providing all???? Sorry … I think you can tell its a bit of a sore point!

  9. Sumanda

    Over and above a defective village 🙂 I’m sure that we’ve also got that we’re fine vibe going. Added to that I think my village had trouble knowing how to deal with us after Zaan died.

  10. deblet

    My village is my friend network,all who are amazing and will help with kid lifts and more….family sucks at helping with anything(my own would love to but are to far)

  11. danile

    I think that if I need a village its there. wE are lucky having my mother stay with us cos she looks after Jordan and whenever we go out.

  12. rochelle.barrish

    I would love to move closer to you – I need your friends… told you what I was prepared to give to have friends like yours.

  13. rochelle.barrish

    Very lucky to have her, hey? Really grates me knowing my two friends overseas’ families would LOVE to just spend one minute with their kiddies!

  14. rebeccav

    I’m an only child, and my mom would probably take over caring for Tristan if she got the chance! She was at the hospital when he was born – much to hubby’s annoyance! And has always been willing to babysit! Until the shit hit the fan in February. She’s seen Tristan 3 or 4 times since then, and it’s breaking her. She’s not as close to Connor! And said she can’t handle the two of them together!PIL’s – we usually ask if they want Tristan to come visit – and if we want to go out for the night, they don’t have a problem with both kids sleeping over (although Connor doesn’t like being away from mommy any more, so we get a call at 7am). SIL & boyfriend – are both amazing with the kids! Shawn has all the time in the world for them, and enjoys playing soccer, hide n seek, swimming, tv games…. The kids love him! They’re still staying with the in laws, but hopefully moving out soon – they’ve found a nice place to rent about 3km’s away :)My mom is insanely jealous! She cannot handle that the kids go to the in-laws and not to her! It really drives her nuts! But my dad farked it all up, and now unfotunately, my mom must suffer!I must add that even though we’ve had so much support so far, we don’t take advantage – like some people we know!

  15. shazdart

    I am the eldest of three and the only girl. On top of that I only had Jess at 41. My village would gladly take over my life if I let them. My parents are besotted with Jess and I think my Dad would prefer us to live with them so that he knew what we were doing every minute of the day. Luckily he also respects me enough to allow me to have my own home and make my own mistakes without too much finger wagging! :DI thank God every day for these parents, Jess does not appreciate how lucky she is as she has always had them in her life. Ring my bell if you need some more villagers. (hugs) xx

  16. rochelle.barrish

    Wow Sahzzie. Are your parents prepared to adopt a daughter and grandchild? No money involved, just want their love and affection!

  17. Bossy-bootz

    Hmmm… My mom and I were discussing this the other day! We are very fortunate… We live with my mom and brother, and 2 of my mom’s sisters live in the same coomplex. Baby-bear receives tons of attention and is adored by them all. And there’s always someone available to entertain her, be it my mom with colouring in and playing “baby-baby”, or my brother showing her to build robots with Legos, or me just reading a bedtime story! Also, my cousins are always popping in with their kids (same age group as Baby-bear) and I babysit for them sometimes. And if I need to go anywhere, my mom usually baby-sits. Baby-bear’s dad has 1 weekly visit with her (not always) and he takes her to his family.

  18. Jwebber

    Our village is awesome. It consists mostly of our parents. We are fortunate to live within 10 minutes of both sets of parents. When I came out of hospital with my newborn older boy it was my Mom who helped me out. She bathed him the first few times because I was afraid to handle such a slap nekkie. She taught me how to swaddle him properly, she taught me how to massage effectively. When I struggled to breastfeed she sat with me and assisted. I did not need a Lactation Consultant and I maintain that I would have given up on breastfeeding after a week if it wasn’t for her. My son goes to my parents after school and they assist with homework. My siblings are also very close to my kids and love to play with them and even take them out once in a while. I have no problems during school holidays as my Parents and PIL take turns with them. I also have no shortage of babysitters and my DH and I can literally go out whenever we need to.Our village would probably take over if we give them enough scope. I always tell my friends that if any of my parents should die then it would be like having my arms cut off.

  19. rochelle.barrish

    Wow, it’s a toss-up between your Mom and Shazzie’s Mom… I think I’ll adopt them both, thank you!


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