Friday, February 16, 2007

Ode to a Village

On Saturday, February 10th Ava, my first baby, turned five. And I missed it because I was sick. Really sick. The sickest I have ever been in my life. I missed everything. I missed her birthday breakfast, the dino hunt in the woods, watching her enjoy her party, blow out her candles, singing "Happy Birthday". I missed her birthday entirely. It was heartbreaking. Five has always seemed to me a milestone birthday. It is the closing of a chapter, the beginning of a new one. There is nothing of the toddler left, a big girl is beginning to emerge. I had been so looking forward to celebrating this big day with her. Now, I am generally a person who just powers through and asking for help is hard for me, but if you can't make it from your bed to the couch without almost passing out, then powering through and not asking for help isn't really an option. I realized quickly I was going to have to let go. I would not be able to micro-manage this no matter how I tried. So I did something crazy and drastic---I surrendered control. I asked Erik to call Shannon because I knew she would Marge-in-charge the situation for me. My sweet husband heroically took on the day solo, as I tried to squeak out instructions. When they got home, Erik told me about the party---Ava had a great time with her friends, Eden rode the Ferris wheel alone, Safa let Amy carry her around for awhile. Then he told me how everyone helped. The party became a team effort with everyone pitching in. People kept an eye on my children and made sure they were safe (three small children in a place like Kiddie Acres are hard to keep track of with only one set of eyes), they helped set up the birthday table, distributed tickets, kept track of presents, loaded the car, carried my baby, handed out juice, ate crappy birthday cake--- generally were extensions of myself as I lay in bed at home. They held up Ava's 5th birthday.
"It takes a village" has now become so overused and trite it's almost silly. It's also true. You know the cool thing about a village? They don't think they're doing anything at all. They just see a need and fill it. If you have a small child or children you need a village. So do your children. I foolishly think of my village as pretty small, but that's not true. If you're lucky, you have one whether you have small children or not. If you're even luckier, like me, it's even bigger than you think it is. Shannon, Amy, Amy, Craig, Marnie, and Jeff ---the village that helped Ava celebrate her birthday---from the bottom of my heart (and rattling lungs) I thank you.