It takes a village to raise a child, or so I've heard. Of course, I've also heard the opposite: that it should be no one else's business how parents choose to parent. I wasn't raised in a village. I consider my social circles, and then I realize how odd it really was that my parents didn't have friends. I know my dad was very close with his family, though after I was very young we didn't see them often. Vacant were our dining chairs. Our driveway empty to guest vehicles. I now host and have playdates, but don't recall such a thing as a child.
My mother's mother passed away long before I was born, and she was estranged from her remaining family members, few as they were. My father, as I mentioned, was close to his relatives in relation but far geographically. It wasn't a quick drive to visit grandma's house while mom and dad went on a date, nor did my parents have access to other family near by. I can't remember them having friends with kids my age over for dinners. Which breaks my heart, really. Raising children can be isolating and hard. I can't imagine going at it alone.
This is where I'm immensely thankful for our community. Today, as with the last Sunday of every month, was potluck Sunday. The members of our church come to our home, bringing pots and pans and plates and trays full of food to share. Our kids clamber onto tiny chairs around tiny tables. We sashay and laugh around one another, gathering plates of food for our families.
See, even as I write it I can't help but say our kids and our families. We are like family - belonging to one another. This is what our children will grow up knowing - when I'm with church people, all the moms are my mom, the dads are my dad, the friends are my friends. Anyone will carry me, wipe my nose, fill my cup, remind me how to be kind, ask me about my day. Everyone cares for me.
Tonight (my first potluck with six children) I stirred lemonade while Jill grabbed a plate for one child, Jessie filled and delivered a cup to a second child, Ben checked on a second and third child, my dad chased a fourth child, Hope wiped up the spills of a fifth child, and the sixth child ate and laughed with her friends. Or something like that. Fluidly we weave amongst one another, they way only a family can.
This is my village.
And to my fellow villagers I must say, thank you. The children we have, for now or for forever, were part of an amazing thing tonight. It's simple, but profound. The joining of people who are willing to do life together.
Truthfully, I can't imagine raising one or twenty children without a village. To have a God given community who surrounds you, fills you, supports you, writes you letters, makes you meals, prays for you, calls you out...that's what gets us to the finish line. The people we pour into and whom pour into us are - that's discipleship. That's how we share Jesus. It's what we're called to do.
So thank you, village, for being our mighty strength and source of encouragement and love. Our call to parent and to foster and someday adopt, is also yours. You, along side us, love on these children and change their lives indefinitely.