I was watching a cooking programme last night – a grandmother, old and struggling to walk, was cooking flatbreads for her extended family. 200 a day sometimes, she said, whilst cooking them slowly and purposefully on a griddle pan and laughing and chatting with other women in the kitchen making too, or doing other tasks. I hit pause and looked at my husband and said ‘God, this is why we’re often so tired – we are trying to do it ALL, in the absence of a village.’ I thought about my own grandparents, and how they find tasks hard now with gardening, housework, shopping and how much life it gives all of us when I can help a little practically and they can spend some time playing and reading and spending time with my children. Yet it can feel so difficult to do – all in our own houses, separated by distance and so much everyday ‘stuff’ to keep us busy, for my mums and my generation often working full time leaves so little time to practice leaning on each other.
Working and raising children and trying to grow / cook / eat nutritious food and maintain our homes and leave some kind of space for activism / joy / self care / learning or the things that light us up and keep us whole, its all so very, very much for people living in our society – we were never meant to do it alone, in isolation from each other.
I opened my laptop after watching and the first article shared happening to be a perfectly fitting one by Adele Jarrett-Kerr, talking of the need for ‘revillaging‘ and how ‘our isolationist set up is literally driving everything from ill health to social unrest to climate change.’ She writes, ‘The loss of the village is an idea frequently applied to conversations around family life but mothers and parents are not the only ones who suffer its effects. Becoming a parent is just one major life event that cracks you open and maybe slows you down enough to notice that there is void where something we evolved to expect is no longer.
That thing is the village, the kind of community where our needs are seen and met – where we are seen and met – and where we draw life from living alongside others.
The life event, whether it’s diagnosis, failure, accident, grief or menopause, isn’t the thing that causes the void or prompts the need. It only unearths what was already there.
Revillaging for me, personally, it means being vulnerable and admitting how much we need people.
It means showing up and loving people around you who might have very different ways and opinions to the ones you hold.
It means letting go of the feeling we need to do it alone, pushing outside of our comfort zone and asking for help – its asking to borrow a tool from a neighbour / friend, seeing them and building connection in the process, instead of ordering our own from Amazon.
It means social media relationships being second to real interactions, hugs, cups of tea, time spent together and shared experiences.
It means it means opening our farm up to more people, to volunteers and helpers, doing work over shared conversation and sharing the output. And helping other projects where we can too.
It means a real shift and focus on living locally (another post to follow on this later – there is so much to say within this!).
It means fostering life giving connections in friends and family and neighbours as much as we can in the circumstances we are in – things like a weekly child swap with a friend or a cup of tea with an elderly friend or relative can be so mutually beneficial.
It means grieving sometimes, for the support we wish we had – parents / grandparents / siblings / aunties and community to share the workload.
It means accepting that in the crazy season of life with young children, I (and friends in the same situation) aren’t able to practically support each other as much as we might like, but we can emotionally hold hands and hearts, do what we can to practically survive this season, and know that our time of life will come to be able to give do and give more.
It also means giving myself grace when my body feels tired to my core and I feel like I just cannot do it all – we were never meant to.
Heartened and heart aching at how many people this resonated with when I shared Adele’s article on Facebook, so please do follow her further work on this, and my writings too – and huge hugs / solidarity to anyone feeling this / working on it / changing things for the better.