BY SARAH BESSEY, ACS PARENT
I didn’t realize how much I had internalized the lie that I should be all things to my tinies until I was unable to do it all. I spent a fair bit of tears as a young mother on the fallacy that I had to be the one who provided everything they needed. That lie made me feel guilty for working, for being unable to go on the field trip, for being unable to help with classroom volunteering, even for asking for help from my family when I needed help. My old belief that I had to “do it all” myself personally left me exhausted and filled with shame, drowning in misplaced pride and a spectacularly bad theology of community.
Spoilers: I could not do everything on my own (and neither can you). Because we were never meant to be a solo artist when it came to raising our children. Now I wish I could go back ten years in time to hug my old self and also to tell her to get over herself: there is a whole village of people up ahead. Stop being so precious and start being grateful for these people in your life.
Praise God for our school community. I look at our children thriving in their school and think, “Thank God!” Thank God for dedicated teachers who truly see and know and love our children. Thank God for their hard work, their patience. Bless the teacher who isn’t afraid to say, “I love you.” Bless the teacher who has high standards, who says, “you can do better.”
Whoever teaches the grade 6 kids immediately after gym class needs a special commendation from the Queen.
Bless the support workers and educational assistants. Sometimes I catch sight of them, sitting in a little kindergarten chair that is much too small, completely focused on the small scrap of humanity before them learning how to read and I want to run over to hug them both because this is the good stuff.
Bless the school Christmas concert which single-handedly restores my faith in humanity.
Praise God for our babysitters, nannies, and daycare workers, for the ones who change diapers, who help with potty training, who serve up lunches, who keep them safe while we earn a living. Praise God for more people who love and care for our children, for more spaces where they are welcome and loved.
Praise God for the neighbourhood parents who stand outside to “keep an eye” on everyone, who buy the biggest bucket of sidewalk chalk so that all the kids on the street can use it, who let the whole neighbourhood use their basketball hoop.
Praise God for field trip chaperones and classroom volunteers. I’m so glad you’re there. Thank you for keeping my kids safe, for cutting out the preschool grad hats from construction paper, for riding the bus like a champ. You are doing such important work and as a mum who doesn’t get to do that stuff very often, I’m so incredibly grateful.
Praise God for the aunties, for the grandmothers, for the uncles, for the grandfathers, for the friends who feel like family, for the public health unit, for the community centre, for the pastors, for the music teachers, for the counsellors and therapists, for the coaches, for the dance teachers, for the preschool teachers, for the carpool lane helpers.
There is a special crown in heaven for the ones on crosswalk duty at the corner of Old Clayburn and McKinley.
In my experience, the more people who love our children with us, the better.
It turned out that the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” was not only true, it was a more healthy and balanced way to raise children as well as their parents. We are raising our children together in this community and it’s a powerful thing to witness, isn’t it? This is the way we were created: to need one another, for family, for one another, for a village even if it doesn’t look the way you always thought it would or should.
The more people who make our children feel seen and cherished and beloved, the better for us all.