Things have been rough in our teeny tiny corner of the universe. I could get into a long story about the ways in which things have been a bit hard for the Silverman-Akandes but a) there are a lot of details – some of which are best kept close to the chest for now, and b) sometimes what we learn during our hardest times is such a gift that we almost become grateful for them. What I will share though is how, through this rough patch, our boat has been steadied as we navigate rough waters.
We have all heard the proverb “it takes a village to raise a child”. It is an African proverb. More specifically, it is a Nigerian proverb originating from the Yoruba and Igbo tribes. Let’s just say that my love of this proverb is directly related to my Yoruba heritage.
I used to think that in my big-city community, we believe in the child-rearing village, but we don’t necessarily live that belief on a day-to-day basis. We’re all struggling and trying so hard to live the best version of the lives we imagined while dealing with the life we’ve been dealt that many of us don’t think that we have much to offer a village. I realize now, that I may be wrong. With no concrete plans or agreed upon rules, my basketball team sized gaggle of children are offered the love and energy of a village.
There are those villagers who we have been formally invited into our lives as caregivers and teachers, who perhaps, with no real intention, become more than what their titles would suggest. They don’t always act in ways that best echo our beliefs and values but they always act with great love for our children. They hug them and listen; they remember what they love and what they hate and what they fear. They laugh with them and at them (but in that “you’re so adorable” kind of way). They teach them and teach them again and again. They “clock in” but they never fully “clock out”. Thank you. We are grateful for you.
There are those who live close by and share their yard and their kitchen and their couch. They run faster than us when one of ours topples over on their bikes darts out in the road, after a runaway ball. Their children’s grandparents know our little ones by name and remember them coming home. On Halloween someone gives out candy, and someone pours the wine and someone hangs with the kids. We never talk about who is doing what or when we’ll change jobs but we all know it’s all taken care of. Our little ones sing goodnight to them and ask for one more snuggle from them before coming home. They drop off a bottle of wine or a case of coke and they know exactly which liquid we need and when. Thank you. We are grateful for you.
There are those villagers who are part of our family of origin. Bubby and Zaide, who call on the phone and send cherished postcards and come for special weekend visits to be showered with enough kisses and cuddles to make up for lost time. There is Nanny who is nearly part of our every day but still gets the run-down-the-hall greeting every time she arrives and the confused look when there’s only time for a short visit. There are aunties and uncles who are like royalty and somehow are the ones who can always do the things we cannot. There are aunties and uncles and cousins who show up every week, even when they’re tired, and love our brood enough to spoil and scold. Thank you. We are grateful for you.
Our village includes chosen family – old friends and new friends, who love up our kids but love us up too. We can be honest with them. We can call our kids assholes and they know that we need a break not to be judged for saying horrible things about our kids. They know what we sound like when we’re on the other end of the phone but are crying too hard to form words (okay that may be the beauty of call display, but you know what I mean). They let us brag about our kiddos without feeling guilty. There are those villagers who when we’re talking about one of our kids and their struggles say, “We’re going to do what we have to do to support her. She’s our little one.” With those friends we are never alone. They hold us up. Thank you. We are grateful for you.
It’s been a lousy couple of weeks for the Silverman-Akandes but it’s totally okay. Our boat is being steadied. As I write this I hope that we are good villagers and that I am wrong about thinking that we have nothing to offer the village. I hope we give you and your littles as much Yoruba style, village love as we receive.
To our people, to our villagers, I hope you know who you are and I hope you know that we are so, so grateful for you.XO Ajike