They say it takes a village to raise a child. My husband and I are raising our one and half year old daughter in the Village of Sleepy Hollow.
Like many of you, we live an “American life,” full of accomplishments, dreams and also a task list that never ends! We schedule time for relaxation and for each other; our lives are very fast-paced perhaps just like yours.
Amidst this buzz, whenever we spend sleepless nights pondering a practical baby issue, I hear several voices. I hear laughter and friendly whispers, old songs, anecdotes and many encouraging words; these are voices from around my house, down the street, from the heart of my town. These voices are comforting, these are yours.
Many of us are raising our children at different ages and stages of life. Some of us get support from our families and some don’t. But we all have one thing in common; we have us! Every weekend we try to go to the farmers market with our daughter, sometimes we pick fresh vegetables and many times we just marvel at the golden harvest. As our eighteen-month old gets inspired to seed and toil her own garden, I keep walking, thinking of how just a few generations ago we relied heavily on support of our local communities in raising our children. Music, stories and other art forms celebrated the role of the “old and wise.” I think we still benefit and derive from this in our daily lives, only with a very different flavor. We may not realize or give enough recognition to the importance of being part of a local community, but we are. It is living and always will be by its inherent power; it will beat our hectic schedules, our industrious life styles and bring us back together. For now I feel encouraged; I head back home.
I have to admit, my biggest support in parenting has been none other than my very dear husband. Both of us, like most urban couples, have relied only on each other. We are trying to revive the spirit and character of our culturally rich and rooted childhood amidst our competitive professional lives. Of course, by now we are trained to do so. Our top notch education and work environments have trained us to switch between different molds with a natural ease and flair! But wait, are we forgetting something?
We are perhaps functioning so beautifully because we have systems in place. How could we have maintained sanity without our babysitter’s resolving smile on those crazy busy days, or the friendly greetings of our mailman who makes our afternoon walks cheerful, or the girl at the grocery store who plays peek-a-boo with my daughter, or our neighborhood children who come over and make our dull evenings lively and joyous! We all benefit from the structured and unstructured systems which are in place because of those near us. Globalization and support for our local communities have to go hand in hand. We are all in this together folks, believe it or not! It’s time we celebrate and enhance what we already do, be living members of our community and do our best to support each other. We just have to find new ways for strengthening local communities in our own modern, technologically evolved way. We need our local communities for everything from fresh food, to plumbing, schooling, healthcare, and of course most of all for our children. We probably don’t have the time to do things the way our mothers or grandmothers did but I am confident, keeping the same spirit will make us draw our own path in new creative ways. For me, motherhood has brought forth a strong reinforcement to cultivate the old world values in a new way.