The concept of the village is crumbling, they say.
But I’m not so sure that’s the case.
Or at least, I’m choosing to see it in a different light. I’m viewing the idea of the village as something that’s evolving with our ever-changing world.
You see mama, women these days, we have different opportunities; different pressures.
What used to be defined by a close-knit cohort of friends and relatives offering support with their physical presence or baking a pan of lasagna to drop off has been disbanded by work schedules and long commutes and shuffling kids back and forth to sports or school activities or doctor's appointments.
There's just so much.
We can barely keep up with our own family's chaos without guilt of whether or not we're doing enough, let alone help significantly with someone else's. But that doesn't mean we've stopped wanting to—we've just had to find new ways.
While the landscape has expanded, the struggles we face as women and wives and mothers prevail—although, it wasn't long ago that we didn't talk about them. Or if we did, we'd be hard-pressed to find a listening ear in our immediate circle who'd faced the same battle and could fully empathize.
Because villages back then — they were small and close — but they were limited.
Today, I've witnessed a vast new kind of village emerging.
One where, speaking openly and asking for help is (mostly) encouraged.
One where a digital world full of endless resources seeks to unite and inform so that no woman ever has to feel alone in their journey.
One that you helped to build.
It's not easy to put yourself out there — to tell the world your fears or your pain.
I think we feel that doing so shows weakness.
My first instinct used to be to cover up my cuts and scars so I'd never be perceived as anything less than an indestructible rock of a woman.
But I've learned this is an archaic notion that persists from the villages of the past.
Because mama, your strength isn't defined by a lack of struggle, but rather, how you use it to fuel a purpose; to propel yourself forward carrying with you anyone who shared space with you in that darkness.
And so, I thank you.
Yes, you, mama.
Maybe you shared your story on social media or an online magazine. Thank you. Your truth resonated with thousands.
Maybe you joined in on a topic in a community forum. Thank you. Your input helped give someone hope, or peace of mind.
Maybe you posted an uplifting meme on Instagram. Thank you. Someone needed to read those words that day.
Thank you for hitting "submit" or "publish" or "share" when you were so tempted to hit "delete".
Thank you for pouring your heart out through your fingertips and into the wide-open universe.
Word by word, post by post, thread by thread, you're changing the way we navigate this life and the challenges it ruthlessly throws our way —
Infertility and miscarriage and child loss. Pregnancy complications, premature births, traumatic labors and NICU stays. Postpartum recovery; depression; anxiety; depletion. Breastfeeding struggles or pumping problems or the mind your own business about how we choose to feed our babies. The relentless guilt and fear of failure. Marital stress, insecurities, or infidelities. Finding your new normal; loving your new body. Childhood illness or grieving the loss of a loved one. The trials and tribulations of adoption, and raising children with special needs.
You're talking about all of this now. You're fostering relationships and building bonds, even if distant ones.
You're hurling ropes into the trenches of loneliness and despair and waiting for someone to grab hold so you can walk toward the light together.
Your bravery moves mountains. Your courage connects hands and hearts through circuitry and pathways that are invisible to the naked eye, creating a massive circle of support that's more powerful than ever before.
You will never know all the lives you'll touch when you decide to share your truth, because the reach is boundless and immeasurable.
But know that you're contributing to something great. You're building something infinite and strong.
You're building a new kind — the best kind — of village.