ode to the village

17Apr10

Some believe that parenting is a two-person job, requiring the presence and influence of both parents.  Others emphasize that many parents are doing it alone; single parents by default or design, raising their children independently or with little influence of a second parent.  Then, there are parents like myself – temporary, pseudo-single parents; alone in the physical sense with a prominent sphere of influence still looming from the other.

But, Trevor and I have never parented in duality.  Never.  We are not foolish enough to believe that the two of us could pull it off alone.  Nope, raising our kids is not a one or two person job.

In Trevor’s absence (which has been the predominant theme here for the past eight months), remarkable friends have knowingly and unknowingly filled the role of “dad” in our house.  Without recognizing how influential their words or actions are, people in our village have stepped in and offered validation or loving affirmation to the girls and myself.

Don’t misunderstand me; no one can replace Trevor.  The emptiness in my girls’ hearts and their tears over missing him cut me to the core.  I know that they adore him as he adores them and that the months that they have been apart has been much more difficult than we imagined it would be.  They miss his laugh, his strong arms, his bald head.  They miss his silly smile, his stories, his patient attention.  They miss waiting for his car to turn down the street at the end of the day.  They miss pulling his boots off every night.  They miss the horrid green flight suit.  They miss his goodnight games and kisses.  They miss him.

Yet, we are fortunate enough to have amazing friends in our lives that are willing to step up in Trevor’s absence and play the role of adoring “parent.”  Yesterday was one of those days that I was awestruck; not only by the generosity of others to love my kids, but of the amazing capacity of my kids to love others.

It was Donuts with Dad at Evie’s school.   This event is always pretty momentous in our house; Daddy doesn’t go to work in the morning and not only does he drive to school, he stays.  It is a special time, as those of you with kids may be able to appreciate.  But, without Trevor here, I feared that there would be a lot of drama, tears and angst over the entire event.

There was none.  Evie asked Mr. Chris Brownie (aka Chris Browning to the adults) to come with her.  She talked about it for weeks.  She woke up at 5:55 in the morning wanting to know when he would be here to pick her up.  She was dressed shortly thereafter, waiting for her carriage to appear and her prince charming to whisk her off to school.  When he arrived, she was out the door with a huge smile on her face, carried off by an adoring Mr. Brownie.

I tied up my running shoes and headed out the door shortly afterwards.  I replayed Evie’s departure and her overwhelming excitement as I ran through the neighborhood.  I reflected on how lucky my girls are: they are fully aware of our love for them and they love us in return.  But, they also love, respect and allow themselves to be influenced by many others that Trevor and I have brought into their lives.

I am relieved.  I take great comfort knowing that the village is a watchful, guiding presence in their lives.  I find peace in the interactions that they share and am grateful that there are other adults who can “stand in” for both Trevor and myself.  It relieves me of the overwhelming pressure that can suffocate parents.  We are so obligated to our kids – physically, emotionally, mentally – and knowing that the obligation can be shared with (or maybe I should say, pawned off on?) others allows me some breathing space.

Chris thanked me yesterday for asking him to share the morning with Evie.  Thanked me?  I was struggling to find the words to thank him.  I was unsure as to how I could express my gratitude for his time and the manner in which he made Evie feel so important.  She didn’t feel like she was missing anything without her Daddy; she felt like she had a really special morning, more so because she shared it with him.

I struggle with knowing how to thank any of you; I probably will never do an adequate job.  But, please know that I am fully aware of my children’s love and admiration for you all.

Trevor is a lucky, lucky guy; he has amazing kids, a fairly competent wife.  But, he is undoubtedly most fortunate for the friends we share that are stepping in and filling his void where I cannot.

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2 Responses to “ode to the village”

  1. 1 Jennifer Mihaly

    me too!

  2. 2 Michelle

    You made me cry again Amy.


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