The village people
My friend Honey posted a story about the need for supportive villages this morning and it provoked me to write this post that has been in my head for weeks.
South Pacific Islanders get it really right when they call everyone aunty, uncle, sister and brother. I believe this term of endearment and respect strengthens the fabric of community and gives everyone a sense of belonging.
There are also village mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers.
Your role in the village has nothing to do with biology and everything to do with choice and participation.
I experienced the village mother phenomena when I was at home with newborn baby Joey. I had one friend who was the ultimate village mother. She brought me coffees and popped in for a quick hello. She crocheted blankets, beanies and cardigans, and oohed and aahed over him with genuine affection. This gentle kindness meant so much to me in those fragile early days, and brought me so much light in the midst of extreme vulnerability.
I also experienced the loving magic of village sisters and aunties during that time. The precious visits, advice and support (and cake!) meant an enormous amount, and granted me access to a hidden world of women’s wisdom.
When you treat the people like family, something changes. It brings you closer. It honours your role in each other’s lives and gives you a chance to step in.
The Spark and I are very blessed to have a beautiful family around us who love and support us, but we also have the most extraordinary village looking out for us.
Simply by behaving like family, you have become family.
So to everyone who has given Joey hand-me-downs and presents, or visited us and come to our parties, I think of you everyday when I look at those toys, and books and clothes. Our house is littered (and lit-up) by the thousands of kindnesses you have bestowed on us.
If you want to create a village, open yourself up to the people around you. Offer respect. Offer inclusion. Show interest and show up. Risk being extra kind.
And to all my biological and village sisters, aunties, mothers and grandmothers, thank you.