People talk of having a village to raise a child. What does that mean? When I was a single parent, I had my ex, aunts, uncles, and my ex-husband’s parents close by to help raise our daughter. If I was sick and my daughter’s father could not help, my Aunty or my ex’s parents would pop in and help me out. My parents and family supported me emotionally from afar but couldn’t be there physically as they lived in another country. Being a single parent was hard. Dropping my child to care at open and not picking her up till closing took its toll. Guilt set in for many reasons, such as not giving my child enough time, someone else raising her whilst I worked, and missing her milestones. These are all emotions parents feel when not separated but are heightened when becoming a single parent. There were days when I felt hopeless, wishing I had a friend who understood my dilemmas—not knowing I needed a village to support me, not just help me raise my daughter.
I knew the exhausted tone of trying to calm a toddler, the struggle to clean the house due to a child’s constant need for attention. I knew those long sighs heard through my six-inch conjoining walls were those of a mother at the end of her rope. Her exhaustion was natural because I, too, shared these feelings. A year almost two had passed since last seeing my neighbours together. They moved away temporarily when she was pregnant, and now she was back with a toddler. I noticed her husband around, although less often than before. Therefore instinctively knew her circumstances had taken a new direction.
Still trying to figure out what I could do to help; I was concerned but didn’t want to come across as the nosey neighbour. The overwhelming thought of what if something happened to her or her child took over, and that was it. This thought made me knock on her door and ask if she needed my help. I was apprehensive about how she would receive my intrusion. Still, I knew either way, I could not stand back without checking her well-being and swapping numbers.
We had barely said two words to one another previously—perhaps a Hello or Good Morning in passing. When I moved into the townhouse next door, I was a newly single mother, and she was a married woman who admittedly intimidated me. Her striking beauty, poise and perfect blonde hair gave me cool girl vibes. As the kids in school call it, we just mingled in different scenes. But did we?
I knocked on her door and asked her if she was ok and if she would like me to take her son for a walk. She let me in and breathed a sigh of relief. That was the day our friendship began. I walked around the block with her son; she finally got to take a hot shower, wash her hair and clean her house. All small daily tasks we take for granted when in a relationship and having someone to share that load. There was no judgement between us, just the unspoken connection of understanding and support.
Being there for each other’s struggles made life easier. We supported each other through a divorce; we lifted each other’s spirits when we were down; we had joint dinners with our kids, which became a weekly ritual. Sitting down with a glass of wine to chat at the end of a difficult day often happened. Having the kids run between houses to play and watch movies became our new regular. We created a village to support each other, and to this day, we still support each other.
So many parents feel alone in their parenthood journey, whether in a committed relationship or single. Therefore, be courageous and reach out to those who are perhaps doing it tough. Open yourself up, and be willing to accept help from a neighbour or school parent if reached out to. Having a village to get you through is what you need, even when you think you are ok.
I will always be grateful for my lifelong friend and neighbour. She is an outstanding woman and Mother and has been one of my biggest supporters. I thank the universe for aligning our paths and know she will always be an intrinsic part of my life.
For you, the reader, it awaits if you are yet to find your village! Be open, be caring, and be kind to yourself and others. Anything is possible with an open, loving heart and the ability to accept love from those around us.