Us moms hear it the moment a skin-covered potato pops out or is cut from our bodies: "It takes a village to raise a child." And, sure, this nothing if not overplayed sentiment makes sense. Since time immemorial, humans have relied on other humans for their survival. It isn't our rugged individualism that has granted us our place at the top of the food chain, but our ability to form tight-knit, compassionate communities. Our capacity for love, protection, and the common good is what has set us apart from the animals.
So, why, may I ask, can't you just watch my children for an hour or so while I take a nap on this bench? Please don't tell me "it takes a village" if I can't ignore my kids at the park without you, judgmental stranger, pursing your lips and raising your brow.
If you're going to talk all that village talk, you'd better walk the walk... preferably after I've settled in to marathon watch Succession at full volume in front of pre-schoolers at the playground. Like, I'm sorry, but I'm hearing a lot about "moms supporting moms" and "women supporting women" and "respecting other people's parenting choices." But when it comes to respecting my decision to check out while my kids go about the developmentally-important work of figuring some 'ish out for themselves, y'all abdicate that feminist solidarity faster than I've abdicated my guilt-fueled need to stare at my offspring while they attempt to summit some ridiculously elaborate playground equipment.
Look, every family is different! And in my family, the mom goes to the park so her kids can, for at least 60 goddamn minutes, figure out how to entertain themselves while she indulges in prestige dramas that she watches with her friend's HBO Go password.
Don't believe the perfectly curated lies you see on social media! No mother is perfect, and there are no filters in real life! Being a parent is messy and hard! Sometimes that means we leave the house with spit-up stains on our shoulders. Or we don't give our kids organic fruit smoothies because chicken nuggets are easier. Sometimes that means I've brought my neck pillow and sleep mask to the playground and, yes, I snore due to a severely deviated septum.
My good woman, I want you to be a part of my village. I want you to be there for me and support me, and, yes, sometimes watch my kids for two seconds without being asked. And in return, I want to be a part of your village — your team, your coven, your tribe. But one thing people forget about the concept of a village is that it takes all types of people to make it work; a glorious array of different personalities who bring with them a diverse set of skills and, yes, needs.
For example, there are some villagers, like you, who are happy to contribute to the health, safety, and general wellbeing of all the village children. Who value hard work and diligence and connecting with your offspring on an emotional level. Those who recognize that it cannot fall upon one person alone to raise a robust, well-rounded human being. And then there are villagers like me, who are happier forgoing the rigors of motherhood for at least one, if not ultimately fleeting, afternoon, so that she can devote herself to this Facebook argument in the comments of a stranger's status update for a hot minute.
If you think about it that way, I believe you'll find we both have responsibilities, and play pretty important roles in the community.
There's only one 'I' in 'village,' dear.
I know, deep down, you understand this. That's what I love about you. But, honestly, I feel like you need to be reminded of the fact that you're part of a village. Because (and I hate to say it) I'm getting a lot of mom-shaming vibes from you right now. I'm sorry, but I don't know what else to call it when you say things to me like, "Is that your child standing on top of the monkey bars?"
There's only one "I" in "village," dear. And, during the one blissful day of the month when I've managed to actually collect my sh*t adequately enough to drag my kid to the park, I've already called dibs.
So, please, practice what you preach. Be a village and help me raise my child so I don't have to stare at them every second of every day. I mean, what would any one of the (objectively horrible if not downright entertaining) characters from Succession do?
(Honestly, I don't know. But if you stop judging me and just pitch in for a second or two, I could probably find out. In peace.)