There’s something truly special and unique about unconditional love.
The love of friends and family that transcends all others. It comes without rules or guidelines and is there for you to lean on even when you don’t realize you need it. Love which comes without judgment or dictatorship. Support from people who offer this type of love is a gift which is hard to measure.
I grew up in a Village setting. Our family is large and you better believe my aunts and uncles ruled over me just as much as my mother. As I grew older and our family spread to varying zip codes from our San Francisco roots the ‘Village’ setting evolved to friends which quickly became like family.
Friends I made, whose families became like my own. I was fortunate enough to grow up with several ‘moms.’ When I was a kid, that’s how it was. We were never formal with the Ms. or Mrs.; our closest and ‘bestest’ friends’ mothers we called mom.
One taught me proper English and always kept a spare $25 hidden in my wallet for emergencies. Another taught me to love freely and accept the ‘universe’ for all that it brings to you. Oh, that mom also let us make brownies for breakfast after a sleepover. So, I’d say she taught me to live all the moments. Then there was the family who taught me about the embrace and love of tradition, regardless of culture or religious belief. The acceptance and inclusion of all people into a family. The list goes on and as I grew older I recognized more and more how fortunate and wonderful it was to ‘grow’ in such a loving and diverse Village.
Fast forward to present day and I’d be lying if I didn’t say someday I hope my two have the same epiphany as young adults.
Growing up in a small town brings with it its own unique experiences, which are both special and memorable. As a transplant, a ‘non-native’ if you will, I never fathomed (nor gave much thought to) my duo growing surrounded by a Village comparable to the one I was fostered in, yet here we are.
Somewhere along the lines of my son transitioning through Kindergarten, my daughter completing pre-school and our family ‘growing healthy’ from a party of four to party of three we happened to find ourselves among this amazing Village of people.
The beauty of this Village is tenfold. Our social circles, family dynamics, even religious beliefs are not all the same. Our children somehow managed to bring us all together. Proving unique unto themselves, even they (the children) don’t all run in the same social circle. These 15 beautiful individuals not only live true to whom they are, but support one another as if they were family.
During the past handful of years, we as a Village have faced a handful of life challenges. Children struggling to find their way and where they fit in social circles, job changes, the passing of parents, relationship drama and most recently a house fire.
Life isn’t easy. It’s not always made to order and it presents us all with our own fair share of hurdles. Now as an adult Village member, I’ve come to not only learn a great deal, but love like never before.
As a Village, we rarely sit idle. Our text stream between the six mommies can go quiet for weeks, even months. We are after all, juggling 15 kids collectively. But when need arises all bets are off. It takes just one of us catching info of need for the stream to break open. Suddenly, just like soldiers on a front line, our worlds stop (at minimum pause) as we rally to resource, brainstorm and yes, pray on what we must do first to ease the burden.
There are many things I love about the dynamic of our Village. We have laughed our fair share as we watch our ‘littles’ grow to ‘bigs’ and our ‘bigs’ tower past us and yes, we have dried our fair share of tears, theirs and ours.
But now ... as the Adult Village member, I love that this tradition has carried on for my own children. It’s equally wonderful to see other families embraced in the same type of ‘community’ as their children grow.
Because as the saying goes ... it truly does take a village. What a blessing. What a gift. What a life. Thank you Villagers … past, present and future.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.