Sunday, May 8, 2016

It Takes a Village

In City Year, we have these things called Founding Stories that serve as inspiration for why we serve.  They range from long stories to short quotes and proverbs.  One of my favorites is the African proverb

"It takes a village to raise a child"

I believe that with all my being.  It's not possible for one single person to raise a child.  It takes a whole community of people, big and small, to help nurture, love, and support that child throughout their life. Everyone from the next door neighbor to the high school guidance counselor is part of that village.  Some villages are bigger than others, but even the smallest villages are still that...a village.

My village, you ask? It was huge. There were tons of men and women who served as role models, mentors, and friends as I journeyed through childhood and adolescence (and lets be honest, adulthood too.  It's tough being a grown up). My mom was the matriarch of the village, but there were lots of other influential women who weren't afraid to put me back in line when I stepped out, give me a hug when needed and cheer me on at various sporting and school events.

When I think about my village, I think about my mom, but also my aunts. I have three very different, yet all incredible aunts.  They all taught, encouraged and supported me in very different ways growing up, but each one made me a better person.  I remember getting excited when my Aunt Beez from Chicago came to visit, getting my nails painted and spending the night with my Aunt Mary, and laughing with my Aunt Patti.

Aunts, cousins, and Mom...I've got a big village
My village wouldn't have been nearly as strong if it weren't for my grandmothers. When I count my blessings, one of them is always that I grew up close to my grandmothers.  I spent afternoons with them after school, had dinner at their house frequently, and knew they were only a phone call or short drive away.   As I grew older, they became confidants, role models, and friends.  And even though they are no longer here, their influence on me as a woman remains strong. 

My village extends outside of my family. It includes thousands of neighbors, teachers, friends and community leaders who ensured that I was the best person I could be.  Many afternoons were spent across the street at a neighbor's house where their mom treated me like a daughter, teaching me through conversations. Countless days in school led by incredible teachers who made sure that I was not only learning facts, but also developing my character.  Many evenings and weekends spent at sports practices and horseback riding lessons where I was surrounded by women I admired and wanted to emulate. These women, while not related by blood, were part of my village.  Their dedication to me has been influential and deserves recognition.  As I spend this Mother's Day thousands of miles away from my village, I am extra thankful for the countless hours I got to spend surrounded by their love and dedication. 

I can't help but also think about Mike's village.  I'm so thankful for all of the women in his life who made him who he is today.  Thanks to his mom, grandmother and countless other women in his life who made him the man I love most.

And last, I've reached the stage in life where my friends are becoming mothers to their own children, as well as countless other children.  It's such an incredible stage of life to be in and I'm loving every moment.  I love watching my friends as aunts, mothers and caring adults to these little ones who admire them so.  I couldn't be prouder of them and know that they are creating such a strong village to surround these children in love.  

Emma got glasses last week! She's my favorite little professor and it's been so much fun to watch Anna be an incredible mother to this little lady.  I couldn't be prouder!

I'm so thankful that I have such a strong village and that we have a day to recognize all of the mothers in our villages. Happy Mother's Day to all of the women out there who make sure we are raising our children in a village that promotes love, hard work and lots of fun!