A Guest Post: It Takes A Village

Sorry for the delay of this post, but we haven't had internet at our new place.

But here is Laura's amazing post! Please take the time to read through this woman's experience. I pray it helps you as you raise your children. If you haven't already, read her other post, Normal is Abnormal. Thanks Laura!


It takes a village to raise a child.... does it?

I heard this so many times before I had my son, and didn't know how I really felt about it.
I saw many people raising kids without a 'village’.
Surely you don't NEED a village.
And you don’t.

Many wonderful children are raised without a village by an incredible parent or set of parents. So please, if that is you, take no offense to this post. This is my experience of being without and being with, and what I prefer.

I had my son in Australia with my mum, sisters, friends and family surrounding us. Not the birth itself - you know what I mean. Thank God. It was a bit of a rough beginning for our little Mr., so as we took our first steps into parenthood with a unwell baby it was amazing to have the support.

We then moved back to Kona, Hawaii. I was quite unestablished there, and my husband was very busy with work. Our son took up most of my time, and although I'm an extravert with people I know, I find new social situations extremely terrifying. I’d rather stay silent in the corner than introduce myself to people in hopes that they will start including me in their circles. Personal issue I should probably deal with some day.

Needless to say I had no mum friends. My son continued to sleep in 40 minute intervals at night, scream at me all day, and take short power naps. I was down to one shower a week, which were on Saturdays when my husband would take Teddy out for the morning. I soaked and scrubbed and cleaned myself and the house. I was making pretty grade E meals and was feeling like I was contributing nothing to anything and feeling so ineffective as a "missionary".

When Teddy was about 8 months old I hit a low, and although I never sought help for it, I'm convinced it was post natal depression. When Teddy had finally gone down for his morning nap the idea of pulling the sheets up on the bed exhausted me. I would wake and feel overwhelmed by a day that hadn't even started. I began to cry frequently and felt completely and utterly shattered! Emotionally, physically, mentally.

We flew home to Australia in November to fundraise and I worked over the Summer. As a Registered Nurse I needed to maintain professionals hours, so it was one bird with heaps of stones. When we arrived in Sydney Teddy was still sleeping an hour at a time at night, and screaming at me all day. But the difference? Suddenly I was surrounded by my village. I had someone to help hold him and feed him. Someone to give me advice, encourage me and tell me I was doing a good job.

The village babysat for me!! The village loved on my son and loved on me. Within a month of being home I was completely out of my rut and things were improving with Theodore. I was a better mum.

Now some of you reading this might be saying "well this chick just doesn't cope well. I don't need help. I can manage comfortably without the help.” But here is my most important lesson: its not about the help. Its not about the extra hands or advice. Its about the influence on your baby and children. Villages are full of aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins, friends, mums, dads, leaders, teachers and so on. It’s not about having a village when they're a baby. Its about creating a village culture for their lives. Its about recognizing that you, as a parent,will not and cannot meet every need of your child and if you try to, you will fail.

In the areas I fall short, someone will make up for it. And I look forward to a future where my children are well rounded people that have been loved by many and have learnt a lot. When my son is 14, and thinks his parents are super uncool his uncle will step in and be a person of influence to continue to encourage him toward being a man of wisdom, respect and integrity.

It does take a village to raise a child. I know I can't do everything for my baby because we're meant to do this together! We are meant to live out of community. Out of family. Out of villages.

The nuclear family crap came into popularity in the 90's and I'm not a huge fan of it - as you can tell. It polarized families and made each unit independent from the next. We lost the deep connections with the veins of influence that went into our kids. Some of my most favorite people and those that have shaped me the most are from my 'village'. Thank God for them. When my mum was going through a horrible divorce and seeing her life fall apart, the village stepped in and helped out with loving her kids.

I head back to Kona in two weeks. My village isn't coming with me. BUT... I know now how much I WANT to have a village for my son so I am making the choice to face my fears and be intentional about creating one where I am. Although they aren't the village that know me well, they are a village that will love and care for my boy and offer him things that I cannot. I want a village for my son. He will learn to love many by being loved by many.

Laura Hall graduated with a Bachelors in Nursing from an Australian university in 2009. Since then she has served and volunteered in the nursing capacity in Sydney, Germany, Ethiopia, Thailand, Bangladesh and Hawaii.

She met her husband, Derek, when she was 14 and the two married 5 years later. Three years ago, they packed up all they had into two suitcases and have been on the move in missions ever since. Their heart is founded in the root significance of family. They are passionate about marriages that thrive! Laura has a heart for the grassroots movement, for women and children's ministry's and is working toward preaching internationally, facilitating the battle against slavery and networking the global church to be Jesus' hands and feet on this Earth!

They have a 1-year-old son, Theodore, and hope to expand their family in the years to come. The Hall's are all about having honest conversations about real challenges and struggles, but striving for a life where they are thriving in all areas: health, marriage, parenting and serving the Lord.

You can follow her writings at the Live to Thrive blog.