Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Building Your Village - Working Women Wednesday

I have had two instances in the last month where I was on Facebook late at night when two people who were in need reached out to me.  I couldn't do much for them but listen and give some advice, but it really started me thinking about the support that we women need in our lives.

Every woman,  no matter your marital status, parental status or job status needs a village.  Someone whom you can count on to be your support system.  A voice of reason late at night, a cheerleader, a shoulder to cry on, someone who will watch your kids (or parents) when you are desperate, a chef when you aren't available to put food on the table, a sage when you are in need of advice.  We all need someone in our village who will be there for us when we are unable to stand up by yourself in the storm that life sends us.

For a women who works outside the home the village will look at little different than someone whose primary job is a homemaker.  A little more thought needs to go into forming the village so that your children are cared for when you are at work and contingency plans are in place if you are unable to get home.  However, with the exception to the first item listed below all of these are needed by all women.

Childcare - if you are working outside the home, this is the most important thing you need to have in place.  Assuming that a family member is unable to watch your child, having a daycare provider who you are totally comfortable with is of the utmost importance.  I was very fortunate that my son stayed home with his dad and grandmas until he was 6 months old.  When my husband's schedule changed we needed to put him in daycare half days which was incredibly traumatic for me.  It really turned out to be a very positive experience.  When my daughter was born six years later we took her to the same daycare, she had the same teachers as my son did and she loved them all.  When she was in the hospital for a week at 4 months with RSV, her daycare teacher came to the hospital and sat with us because she too was worried about our daughter.  Knowing how much our kids were loved really made leaving them so much easier.

Back-up childcare - This is separate from daycare.  At some point there will be times when you are unable to care for your children (i.e. illness, getting away with your significant other, need to be two places at once, etc).  Having someone that you can call (and trust) at the last minute to care for your kids is imperative for your piece of mind.

Mentor - The definition of mentor is trusted friend or guide.  Whether at work or home, we need someone wiser than us who is willing to show us the path.  These can be formal or informal relationships, but identifying a mentor and being open to what they have to teach us is so important to our personal growth.  I cannot stress enough though the importance of being open to really seeing ourselves as we are, not as we want to be, if a mentor is going to be successful in guiding us.

Friends - I know a woman who really doesn't have any girlfriends.  She's confided that she's lost contact with her high school and college friends and doesn't feel like she has anything in common with the mothers of her son's friends because they are so much older than her.  She wants friends who mirror her; same age, married with kids.  I say rubbish!  I have friends who are older and younger, married and single, kids and no kids.  Each friendship brings something unique and valuable to my life.  Just because my friend Rhonda isn't married, doesn't have children and is of a completely different political persuasion than me doesn't mean that we don't enjoy each other's company at dinner and enrich each other's lives.  We just don't talk politics!  Friends make us laugh, provide a shoulder to cry on, remind us of who we used to be (pre-children) and are just generally good to have.  If you don't have friends, please start thinking about who you can reach out to, even if it makes you uncomfortable.  Some of us find making friends a little harder than others, but it is so important to have that connection and it's worth the effort.  I would ask, if you are someone who finds making friends very easy to reach out to someone that you think is struggling.  When I was in high school, I saw a new girl who looked really uncomfortable.  I asked her to join our table at lunch, I ended up finding a friend that I've carried with me through life.  She's shared with me, many years later, how appreciative she was to have that overture of friendship when she was feeling lonely and out of place.

Spouse/significant other - I rely on my husband more than anyone else in this world.  He's certainly not perfect, but we've signed up to go through this life together.  It's us against the world!  Alright, that was a little corny but it's true.  When I was younger, my Wonder Woman complex was much worse than it is now.  I felt that I needed to do all the things that a SAHM would do while working full time, jI created an environment for myself that I could not sustain.  Fortunately both of us saw the light and we have developed a routine where we both are involved in the daily chores of running the household.  It works out well that when I can't pull my fair share he jumps in and when he can't pull his fair share I jump in.

Family - Family can be a wonderful part of your village or they may be no part of your village.  When my mother was 20 years old she moved 500 miles away from her family.  She had a sick child who would need surgery within a year, she herself was very ill and would need surgery and quite frankly at that time she didn't have a very supportive husband (my dad got MUCH better as he matured).  Her family wasn't a part of her village, but she has been a big part of my village.  I would also include my kids as part of my village.  As the children get older they can definitely contribute to the household.  Once they start driving, it's a whole different ballgame.  Having a kid who can drive can be a huge lifesaver.  It's important to note that family isn't only about blood, family is the people you love and love you back.

I'm going to expound on this subject next week and be a little more specific about how we can be a supportive member of a village.

Are you finding this helpful?  Who is in your village?

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  1. Nice article! You are so right about the importance of a "village". For people who are willing to belong to an organized religion, the congregation can serve as a village in many ways. I'm a member of a small church that serves as extended family (we live 30+ miles from all our relatives) and is a great source of friends, mentors, and back-up childcare in the form of a church friend who's disabled (so doesn't have a job, but IS able to care for a child) and lives close to our home and school. The church also is a place to borrow things like big cooking pots when we need them, plant the extra bulbs when we buy a value pack and then get to appreciate the flowers, etc.

    P.S. You forgot to include a link back to Works-for-Me Wednesday.

  2. Thanks - you are definitely correct about a family's church, that would be a wonderful resource. Unfortunately our church doesn't quite serve as an extended family for me. Very nice people go there but it's not the church I grew up in (I switched for my husband) and it doesn't feel like home, even after all these years. However I do know a lot of people who rely on their church. Thanks for the input.