Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hillary Clinton called...she wants her village back.

Anyone know where it is?

We had it around here someplace...but that was quite a long time ago. I know I saw my mother with it a few times in the '80s, and my grandmother had it back in the '50s. I just need to retrace my steps to when I last saw it...I think Calvin was in diapers and I was in the midst of that desperate housewife phase in which I sported baby puke stains on my shoulder and dropped binkies in mud puddles a lot.

People helped me pretty readily back then, as I recall, and I helped others a lot, too. There was a sort of mutual-need, we're-all-in-the-trenches-together sort of mentality that brought us closer, and I remember many occasions where I babysat friends' kids or dropped off my own and just had the comfort of knowing that at any time, I could pick up the phone and have an extra set of hands or eyes (albeit as tired as my own) come to my aid.

The the problem is, as the kids get older and enter school, as we one-by-one return to work and/or our own projects and goals, this village becomes a bit of a ghost town. Don't get me wrong: the same friends are there for you, or at least really want to be, but now they're on the phone while commiserating with you, not in your living room surrounded by all your dirty laundry, because there's no time to come over before Johnny's soccer practice or Sally's fifth violin lesson of the week, and you end your conversation on the somewhat hysterical (but not very helpful) note of 'Tell me again why I signed her up for the freaking violin?!' And you hang up with the echo of your own need, whatever it was, still in your ears and you think: it's gone. That support...that village...has cleared out and I'm alone in this.

This societal issue (and personal issue...because I know I'm partly to blame, given that I'd rather be water-boarded than ask for help) came to the forefront of my life this week as I prepared to return to work for the school year. I'm lucky enough to work the same hours that my kids are in school, but due to the fact that Toby will attend a half-day kindergarten, there were a few scheduling wrinkles to iron out. Namely, a half-hour time period once a week during which I'm still in class and he's out for the day...with nowhere to go.

Talk about being so close and yet so very far: just one half-hour, once a week, and I couldn't think of a single person who'd a) be available and b) I'd feel comfortable asking to pick him up, which was such a sad commentary on community and belonging that I wanted to bang my head against the wall.

Which sent me looking, actively looking, frantically looking, for any remains of that village, and you know what? I'm finding it. Piece by piece. A cornerstone here, a smudged window pane there. I just needed to re-plot it on the map of my daily life, because it's shifted a bit since my kids' toddlerhood.

I'm finding help in the form of church members who I hadn't even considered for the role of help-me-in-a-pinch (shortsighted, I know). I'm finding it in neighborhood friends I haven't taken the time to catch up with in too long. And mostly, I'm finding it in my husband, who I haven't relied on so fully for this sort of thing in many years, because his job had been so demanding. And in this manner, it slowly took form before my eyes: proof that society isn't quite as broken as I'd thought. And that Hillary is, once again, right about most things.

And finally, that in his (half) hour of need, Toby will be in good hands.
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