I learned a big lesson in 2017. In the first three years I spent as a mother, I didn’t feel like I needed help from anyone. I would hear the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” and I thought it was terrible. I didn’t believe I needed any help raising my children. I never really felt the need to take time to myself or be away from my children at all. When they were babies, maybe this was true. I strongly feel that caring for my babies was easier than caring for my toddlers. They weren’t mobile, easily portable, and took regular naps. I exclusively breastfed both of my babies and they wouldn’t take bottles, so no one could help feeding them anyway. I believe keeping my babies close to me was essential in building the bond we now share. Now I know I was wrong for thinking I could do it all on my own.

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Time Away From My Children

After being in the bubble of babyhood for so long, I’m starting to rediscover who I am as a person. I am a mom and I LOVE that role endlessly, but I have reached a point in life/adulthood/motherhood/womanhood where I need to be recognized for more than just this. I have started to realize that I find satisfaction and fulfillment in things outside of motherhood. Some of these things *gasp* don’t involve my children at all. I like to be able to go out to lunch, dinner, or coffee with a friend. I like to shower alone. I love working on my blog. I could go on.

This year my boys will be 4 and 2. They aren’t babies anymore. In addition to me rediscovering myself, I’m realizing what an impact other have on their lives. I don’t think interaction with different people was so important when they were babies. Now, everyone they spend time with makes an imprint on them. Since we plan on homeschooling, this is extra important for my boys. I have always felt super socially awkward, especially around new people or big groups. I want my boys to feel comfortable and confident making connections with new people and familiar people.

It was a shock to me the first time I craved some time away. Not just a shower to myself but I actually wanted to GO and be away from my children. We were invited to a wedding and I decided to surprise my husband with a room where the wedding was being held and his parents keeping the kids over night. This was also the first time EVER I didn’t try to check on my kids at least hourly while away from them. In fact, my phone died before we finished dinner. I had an amazing time. I ate dinner, drank a bit, and danced all night. It was so refreshing and liberating to be seen as a woman and a wife, without my tiny humans in toe.
It has been almost six months since that wedding. Since that night I have discovered that there is a village of people around me willing to step in anytime I need or want a break. I’m currently sitting at Starbucks writing this. I decided a few weeks ago that on my husband’s days off I will get up early and come work on my blog for a few hours. I made friends with a group that comes everyday so when they get here I socialize a bit with them before going to run some child free errands. My husband has been so amazing. He has always been eager and willing to do anything for our children but now that I’m actually taking advantage of his help, I love him even more. I even went on a weekend vacation without my family a couple months ago. The village at home stepped in and supported my husband in caring for my little guys while I was gone.

Discovering The Village

I’ve made several grocery store and coffee runs without the children in tow because my amazing little sister let me leave the little guys home with her. She doesn’t know how many times she has saved me on a Saturday morning by offering to let me leave them home. And I can’t tell you how many solitary showers I’ve been able to take while she is caring for my babies. I have always felt a very strong, protective, unconditional love for my little sisters. Now I appreciate her on a whole new level. I wouldn’t be the mother I am without her help. I am forever thankful for every second she spends loving and caring for my boys.
My boys are lucky enough to have five wonderful grandparents. They love them all. I love that I have this amazing set of people to turn to when I need some time to myself. My mom is always willing to love my babies for a couple hours if I want to run errands or whatever. I love being able to drop them off with her. There is something special about asking the woman who raised me to care for my babies while I take some time to myself. I’ve been extra spoiled this way by living with my dad and step mom for the last 8 months. Several times a week my kids run down the hall to go play with granddaddy and grandma. Each time I hear their door open and them welcoming my little boys in to play, I let out a huge (involuntary) sigh. Then I go through the mental list of things I could do to take advantage of the free time. I usually end up cleaning or vegging out on the couch but I am grateful for the break. I will miss this luxury when we move into our house and I can’t send the boys down the hall anymore. My husbands parents are always ready to watch the boys. They usually have some cousins there for them to play with as well. I know I can call on any of these five people to step in if I want or need some freedom. I am humbled and grateful for their willingness to help. 

The Village Is Bigger Than You Think

I have also started calling on neighbors and other babysitters for help. My dad rents his basement to a young married couple and I started sending the boys down to play a month or two ago. They all love it. The boys constantly ask for her and ask if its their day to go play. I send them down to play three days a week for two hours in the afternoon. With this time I usually clean or fold laundry. I’ve also taken advantage of the free time to shower or do a grocery run. It has been invaluable to be able to count on this set time a few days a week. To know I am going to get that much needed time to myself. Even if I spend the whole time cleaning, it is a great reset.
Last but not least, I am thankful for the other mothers I have made friends with so far, and the ones I’ll make friends with in the future. It’s fun to get together for playdates, peak at each others lives on facebook and snapchat, and be able to turn to other women who are going through similar challenges.

We are in this together as mothers. We are all busy in our own mothering but I know they are just a text, call, or snapchat away if I want their opinion or need words of encouragement. I believe that all mothers share a strong bond and it’s important to make connections with each other. I have some mom friends I hope I keep in my life for a very long time.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to express to all of these people how grateful I am for their love and support in my journey through motherhood. I don’t know where I’d be without people to lean on. Each person in this village I have discovered means so much to me. I know I will be taking advantage of the people in my village for years to come because it really does take a village to raise a child.

Who is in your village? Who do you depend on most?

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