I grew up in a small town. Small as in, our first stoplight went up when I was in high school (today there are two) and it was 90 miles to the nearest Target. I don’t know if it’s the fact some of my closest friends moved back home, the 10 days I spent there this summer with my sister, the obscene amount of time I spend sitting in traffic three to five days a week (#workingmomproblems), or just general homesickness, but lately I have had a yearning for that small-town life.
As a kid, my mom and stepdad both worked, but our next-door neighbor, whose daughter was grown, often looked out for us. Some days that was just making sure we got home OK, others it was hanging out at her house making caramel apples to hand out to trick-or-treaters. (Homemade treats, guys. Can you imagine?)
My boss at my high school job was the aunt of a classmate, and mom to my cheer coach. I drove my sister’s friend down the street and her little brother to school every day.
Being home over the summer was magical. The slow pace. Being out in nature in the woods and lakes and rivers. The old friends. Time with my sister, niece and mom. The county fair. It was harder for me to leave than ever before.
But I’ve realized something. Even though we live in one of the country’s largest metropolitan areas, we have found our village here in the East Valley. Some of my colleagues’ kids go to the same daycare as Peanut. We have friends who work at Pumpkin’s school, other friends whose kids attend. We help each other with pick ups and drop offs. Pumpkin greets the receptionist (whose daughter babysits for us) every morning before lining up for class. Even Peanut, when she comes in, passes out hugs to her future teachers. We know they’re being looked after, and it’s a comforting feeling.
Our kids have friends on our street that they play with on the weekends, bouncing around from house to house. They’ve play on the same soccer team, and call out to each other over backyard walls. From time to time, we watch each other’s kids when someone has a need. And we pass around flour, sugar or craft supplies when someone is in need.
Being here in Arizona, where my husband grew up, also means we have family around, and friends who feel like family. We know there are people around to help in a pinch, and it works both ways.
It truly does take a village to raise kids. We may not live in a small town, as I did growing up, but we found ours just the same. And I’m very grateful for that.