I often struggle with finding the “right things” and the “right ways” to teach my child about life and living well. There are times that I am just too worn out from the week. Or we have a million things to do because she’s eleven and everything is “essential.” Especially during this crazy pandemic when I do not have the support of her fabulous teachers and coaches, I worry that she’s not getting what she needs, and sometimes I know I fall short.
I am a single mom. But I’m far from alone in raising my child.
It takes a village to raise a child. I’ve read that many times and in many places. I guess I wasn’t always sure what it meant or how to choose my village. I mean, do you need an application? Are the applications restricted to family only? Is there a subscription fee for this service? Thankfully, my daughter and I have been really fortunate that our village has come to us. Now, they have not arrived on any sort of schedule, and sometimes they have become a part of our family in unconventional ways, but they are what makes up for my humanity on the days I fall short.
Elizah, my daughter, has two wonderful grandparents. They live in a tiny town north of Albuquerque and are an essential part of her support system. My mom makes sure that Elizah has her daily dose of homemade goodies. (Sometimes she saves some for me, too). Elizah gets to have breakfast in bed and work in grandma’s garden. She can run around and get muddy, and her grandma lets her explore outside all day.
My dad teaches her practical things like how to use tools and create masterpieces. I think he and Elizah could spend all day in his workshop cutting wood and building little things for her to paint. Elizah gets to experience the magic of being a child at their home. She has grown up with safe spaces to run and play. When I pick her up from a long weekend or she gets to hang out at their house while I pick up an extra shift, I know she’s well-loved and getting what she needs and more.
When the drive to her grandparents’ house is a bit out of the way or we need a quick fix, I am blessed that my friend Shelley is a part of my daughter’s village. Shelley is this beautiful woman that teaches my daughter about compassion and kindness. She runs a program called The New Mexico Dream Center. She has welcomed Elizah as a volunteer and as part of the team.
When I am there working on fundraising or helping one of the youth the program serves, Shelley is giving Elizah a meaningful project. It is an absolute blessing to be able to take my daughter to The New Mexico Dream Center. Working with homeless and at-risk youth sets my soul on fire. Shelley gives me the opportunity to let Elizah see me at my best. My daughter has learned so much about life and gratitude. Her beautiful heart is amazing to me. I am so grateful for people like Shelley who nurture Elizah by sharing their love and talents.
Elizah loves to have friends, but I think her favorite friend is a young woman who babysat for us. Her name is Jackie, and she is also part of Elizah’s village. Jackie has plenty to worry about, like graduating high school and working on her dual credit classes. Her plate is full, but she always makes room for Elizah. Jackie is a special young woman. Jackie comes with our family on outings and she calls Elizah to discuss the latest girl drama.
She always has something positive to say and gives wonderful advice to my daughter. She says things like, “Listen to your mom because she loves you.” Sometimes she says, “Don’t get too mad because if you’re angry you won’t be able to do the things you want to do.” I love their relationship. It gives Elizah the big sister she never had. I think it’s an opportunity for her to have a unique perspective on life. I am grateful for Jackie and her willingness to treat my daughter with such love and kindness. Elizah is getting what she needs when she asks to call Jackie or invite her over for baking and a movie.
Creating a Village as a Single Mom
While I don’t know the rules for creating a village that supports single moms, I hope that ours keeps growing. I know that there are many more days ahead of being too tired, having to work late, and not having the right words when the dreaded girl drama arises. I need the men and women in my life to help give my daughter what she needs. No mom can do it all. It helps me give myself permission to rest, take a quick break, or just step back and watch beautiful relationships feed Elizah’s soul.
If you do have a single mom in your life and you’re fortunate enough to have a partner, how can you give her some extra support?
Look around you, mama. Your village is waiting to love and support you through all the uncertainty. Remember, your village wouldn’t be possible without your wisdom and ability to allow good people to help you love your kids. Good job mama, well done!
Originally published October 2020.