Raising Children Without the Village

The last several days as a stay-at-home mom have been very much the same.

I get up with my children, make breakfast, try and fail to drink my coffee while it’s hot. We watch YouTube nursery rhyme videos, read books, and make trips to the store. We go on the occasional playdate with the local mom group. We check out local zoos, splash pads, and playgrounds. 

children without village
children without village

During evenings and weekends, Daddy is home and we spend time together as a family. We eat dinner and then tackle the bedtime routine. We have a lot of fun together, our little family. There’s just one thing, though – it’s just us. No village.

My husband and I grew up in the same town in Ohio with close-knit families. We met working for the same company about six years ago. And then we both got laid off from the same company. We were lucky; we both found new jobs almost right away and close in proximity to each other. The problem is the jobs meant moving to Michigan – and away from family.

It was a no-brainer at the time.

We had student loans to pay and moving to a new state felt like an exciting adventure. Then came marriage. Then came babies. With a toddler and a baby, we found ourselves in the trenches of new parenthood and everyone we’re close to is 200 miles away.

We’re fortunate that we are still within driving distance and that we do have family members who visit when they can. We’ve made a few friends, but not people we are able to socialize with regularly. Generally, it’s just the four of us {five if you count the dog)}, day in and day out. It can get lonely, especially now that I’ve decided to be home with the kids.

When I gave birth to each of my children, my mom took a week off of work to come to see us and help out. It was a blessing. She helped keep the house clean and took turns getting the babies to sleep. When she had to leave, it felt like a void had been created. Here we were, figuring out this whole parenting thing by ourselves. I love the time I get to spend with my children as a stay-at-home mom, but not having a village is isolating.

There are some days when the only adult I talk to is my husband.

This sometimes consists of fragmented conversations between a screaming baby and trying to get the toddler to eat his vegetables. Many days, I am desperate for an hour to myself, but I can’t get it until bedtime {and sometimes not even then – THANKS SLEEP REGRESSION}. When we take a fun trip out, I get overwhelmed handling both kids and wish I had an extra set of hands. If our families were nearby, I might get those things more often.

children without village

Sometimes I dream about what life could be like close to a village.

I could take an afternoon to go see Grandpa’s garden with the kids. I could plan playdates with my sister-in-law and her two children who are close in age to mine. During holidays, we could have traditional Christmas dinner at my aunt’s house, and then come home and sleep in our own beds afterward instead of rolling out the air mattress and pack and play.

We could host a holiday at our house for a change. When we barbecue for the 4th of July, we could throw a dozen burgers on the grill instead of three {what a waste, right?}.

I am so very grateful for the help that I have had and for the times we do get to visit family. But in the meantime, being a state away stinks. Moving back to our hometown is not in our immediate future. They say it takes a village – but, for now, we must keep going without one.