Building our village
Traditionally when talking about raising babies, the saying, "It takes a village" comes to mind. And for us, that village has been a slow and prayerful process, with seasons of loneliness and isolation, and seasons of parties, non stop socializing, and lots of yummy food and swimming. I am coming to learn that both are incredibly valuable.
When Walther, my husband, and I first got pregnant, we were in a season of going OUT! We had a few good friends, both single and married with no babies, so we were pretty free to schedule outings. Jazz bars, day trips, and late night dinners were the norm. Then, wonderfully Oliver came along and we saw a significant shift. We suddenly we were so focused on our baby, and WAY TOO TIRED, to even consider leaving the house after 6pm with our single friends. Thankfully we still had many people who helped us, including a couple that was pregnant the at the same time. We have the honor of being their daughter's godparents, and they have been such a God-send. But they were in transition too, so because of these life changes, our visits were few and far between. One of my best friends, who introduced me to my husband, lived near by, but moved shortly after Oliver was born. My mom came out to stay with us for a few weeks post partum, and that was SO helpful and wonderful! Then my in-laws came to stay with us too, and that was lovely as well. So it's not like we were without help or support, but it was not what I had imagined a village to look like. I often wondered how our village would grow and what shape it would take. We often prayed in gratitude for the people in our lives, and that He would provide what we needed, when we needed it.
We came to enjoy, and even savor, the time we had with just us. Walther is a man of prayer and of action, so when he felt called to be a part of the men's group at our parish, I never knew what wonderful fruits would come from that obedience to God. Not only did he get so much out of that time of fellowship and comradery, but he also met men who encouraged him as a father. One day he came home from his men's group and said, "Some guys from the men's group are having a BBQ this weekend and invited us to go." I felt both excited and nervous. What if the wives didn't like me?? What if we have nothing in common? What if they don't like margaritas as much as I do?!
Imagine my relief when they were awesome. Funny, and friendly, totally normal, and so welcoming! I was pregnant with Emilio and they could see I was tired. They made sure I had plenty of water, and their kids kept Oliver entertained. I had such a great time that day, and was so grateful that God had provided what we needed. Since that day a year ago, we have become great friends with these families. We celebrate with them, we pray for them, we are building our village, one family at a time. This has taken a lot of effort on our part. We were praying for Catholic fellowship and God provided us with the opportunities, but it was up to us to take them.
Another way I feel like my village has grown is through the Mom's Group at my parish. I absolutely LOVE IT! The women are all so different from me, but in the best ways! They are teaching me how to parent, and how to have fun in the chaos. One of them even offered to teach Oliver how to swim at her house, and for a few months we spent 3 mornings a week with her and her 5 little ones, along with 2 other women, who are just as amazing, and their kids. I loved it so much! We have become great friends and they really inspire me to not be afraid of having a large family. These women have welcomed me in so many generous ways! They listen to me when I struggle, laugh with me, encourage me, and lend me wonderful books!
Having other Catholic families around is wonderful and yet we do not see them often, usually at Mass on Sundays. Sometimes we get together, or text one another, but we know they are there for us when we need them, and we are here for them. When I went into labor with Emilio two weeks early, our dear friends came over at 3 AM to pick Oliver up so that Walther and I could go to the hospital. Sometimes we imagine that the village is there for you all the time, and that you see them daily. Our village is slightly different, but just as wonderful.
This has also made me appreciate the loneliness that often comes with motherhood. Sometimes we think that all we need is our little unit, and sometimes that is true. For me, that time usually increases my prayer time and deepens my relationship with God. That time when the 4 of us are home snuggled up and watching a movie, or playing games together, is cherished time. I am so thankful for it. Other times, we need other moms to just chat and laugh with. I have found that there is a balance of both. After Emilio was born, we needed some time to hibernate and get used to a new little person in our home. Now, we are more open to social time with our friends. There are seasons to every aspect of parenting, and the village is no exception.
If you are feeling lonely, or lacking that village, please know I am praying that the Lord provide for you exactly what you need. He is faithful at all times.
Copyright 2018 Diana Cantu. All Rights Reserved.
Image Credit: Copyright 2018 Karen Padilla. All Right Reserved.