Three months after we were married, my husband and I moved to a new state without any friends or family close by. In a few months’ time, we bought our first home and started new careers. This was a lot of change, but I viewed this as a new adventure. Fast forward three years and we had three girls under the age of three – a toddler and identical twin baby girls.
I was recently asked who my social supports in the community are, and I paused. I expected to rattle off a list of extended family but our parents and siblings live hundreds of miles away in different states. I have always agreed with the cliché it takes a village to raise a child, but now I was actually putting it down on paper.
Our immediate supports are the friends we have made since moving to Ohio. They open their homes to me, my husband and our children for the holidays, welcome us to their family events and celebrations, and even jump at the opportunity to join us for family outings like a day out with Thomas the Train!
When I learned I was pregnant with twins, my network of friends shared in the excitement, but moreover the concerns I had with carrying two babies and having a high risk pregnancy. They went so far as to offer logistical support (like coming over in the middle of the night to watch our toddler in case we had to go to the hospital) and even better – food! Anyone having multiples will confirm a premade meal is the best thing anyone can offer besides uninterrupted sleep. Note: if you know someone pregnant with multiples, just drop food off at their doorstep. I consider this playing the best version of “ding dong ditch” with a surprise casserole in the end.
But I digress, I really like #6 on this blog post (Kveller is one of my favorite blogs), because it speaks to me on many levels!
For me, building a community is so important because social support is a huge part of what keeps me sane every day. My community spreads across numerous states and includes some international flavor, but what I have learned is community is what you make of it. I consider close friends to be family and I rely on them as such. I have experienced, when the chips are down and I really need support, I can find it in numerous places. My friends travelled to Ohio to stay with me and my 6 week old baby girl when my husband had a 2 week trip to Japan. My pregnant friend flew to Ohio (leaving her own toddler and husband at home in Philadelphia) to stay with Esther while I delivered my twins. And then she returned three months later to visit again and spend time with my twins (while she was even more pregnant). It truly warms my heart to know there are people who will be there for my girls in ways I never could be. My girls have many “aunties” who love them unconditionally.
We have found a community who cares about us and puts their words into action. People do not offer to babysit three kids under the age of three unless they really mean it. I even learned our friends will become upset if I do not take them up on the offer! So when a friend mentions babysitting for us; I see an opportunity for a date night with free childcare! When support is offered in any way, shape or form, I no longer question the motive. Instead, I graciously accept and thank the universe for providing my girls with examples of kindness, sincerity and true generosity.
The point of this is not to brag about how awesome it is to have people willing to watch my kids (although this is undoubtedly awesome), but to point out opening up my heart to the possibilities of others showing kindness and care was originally challenging because it’s not the norm. What do others have to gain from this? But then I think I would do the same for them. I would travel (and I have) to help ease the transition a new baby brings to a family, or show support when a friend needed it most (while battling cancer). We are all a part of a bigger community and giving back to those in need is a mitzvah. When I am the recipient of a mitzvah, I give thanks and try to pay it forward (usually with baked goods like challah and a roast chicken dinner).
My girls will always have me to rely on, but I love knowing there are other people in our community (family and friends) who will provide them with another source of support, love, guidance, and serve as role models beyond what I can give them. I had to open my mind to the possibility of accepting help (I did not have much of a choice with multiples) and the lesson I learned is love doesn’t know the difference between friend or family. It takes a village to raise a child and I am incredibly blessed to have found a village for my girls x 3!