I have a question: when did we lose the village? The expression that often is thrown around is It takes a village to raise a child, and if we think back to the not-so-long-ago past, this is a very true statement. Neighbors and friends used to help mothers with everything, from cooking to the general boredom that can accompany every day life. Friends would stop by with food (if this is the 50s, probably some terrible Jello mold), bring their kids, and while the kids played, the moms would play cards or talk, and basically feel as though they were part of a community. True, that this was a time when the women in the village didn’t work, or if they did, their jobs were very limited, and therefore they had more hours to dedicate to child-rearing. But that doesn’t explain an answer to my question: When did we lose the village?
If you peruse social media outlets and find posts regarding parenting, inevitably you will encounter someone who snarks, “Don’t have kids if you can’t handle them” or the like. When did this become a rallying cry? Shouldn’t we want to help our neighbor, shouldn’t we try to be the village? If the answer is found on social media, that answer is a resounding “No.” I get it, people don’t want babies or kids everywhere. Like at a fancy restaurant. Or at the theater. But our youngest citizens deserve courtesy, and their parents deserve to be treated with respect and caring, not disdain. If I take my two-year-old to the store and she has a tantrum, why do I feel compelled to leave so as not to “disturb” any other shoppers? It’s the grocery store, for goodness’ sake. A place where families go to buy food. My toddler is part of my family, therefore she belongs at the grocery with me, regardless of her mood. Why are there so many eye rolls and mutters about “can’t control your kids”, used by the same folks who say things like #sorrynotsorry. When we read stories about people actually helping people (like this story about a mom on a plan who helped another mom on the same plane), we say “What a great display of human decency! How lovely!!” but this should be the norm, not the exception!
We’re also inundated with mommy groups on every social media outlet as well. Personally, I have found solace in only one of the numerous groups I’ve joined since becoming a mom. The one I’m referring to has real-life moms who have real-life problems and offer assistance to each other, often meeting up to help a fellow mom. I have taken Mary to a few playdates with moms I’ve met via the group, and we’ve had lots of fun. As stated, I feel like this is the one group out of the many I’ve joined that actually works: there are numerous mommy groups that aren’t run this way, that are designed to stir up drama based on a mom’s parenting choices, and that’s just not for me. Women should build each other up, not tear each other down. We should be creating a community – recreating the village, not burning it down.
This leads me to Flexable’s mission. We want to normalize childcare. We want to bring the village back. It’s important that parents feel welcomed, and that they feel able to attend events without worrying about childcare. It should be normal to ask if childcare is provided; a mom or dad shouldn’t feel bad or awkward about wanting childcare wherever they go. If parents start asking, organizers and bosses will have to listen. Let’s make parents feel welcomed again: Let’s rebuild the village.