Many years ago, Prince Charming and I frequented a little tavern named “The Village”. It was a plain-Jane bar with plenty of cold beer and fried food. At lunchtime, you could find lots of folks there for sandwiches and tea, and late at night, you would find stumbling drunks trying to dance and show off their pipes with karaoke. The hubs and I were typically Happy Hour clientele popping in for a half price drink or two before heading home after work.
No matter what day of the week I went there, inevitably there were some of the same familiar faces. The owner “knighted” these guys as “Idiots” and even had some tee shirts made for the select few
losers. (Get it? Village Idiot…) Remarkably, the “Villagers” (including the Idiots) formed a tight little family. I’ve seen it happen time and time again whenever one was diagnosed with cancer or other illness, money was donated and meals were provided. Bedside vigils were sat. Hands were held and tears were dried. All for a bar pal.
Time passes as time will do. We moved to the other side of town and started a family so I rarely see any of the old Villagers anymore. In fact, they haven’t really crossed my mind until a few weeks ago when Baby came to stay with us. And then a really remarkable thing happened. A whole community of friends and family rallied around this child and his young parents. I was reminded of the old African Proverb “It takes a village to raise a child”.
By the time Baby and I arrived home, my friend Bebe (the baby’s grandmother), her daughter Jo, her son-in-law Z (the baby’s parents) and family friend Roxanne were already here with bassinet, piles of baby clothes, new bottles and a boatload of diapers. Within a couple of hours, the rest of my family was home and pizza was delivered. And so the chaos began!
The DSS “Alternate
Universe Caregiver Plan” specifically stated that the baby had to be in either mine or my husband’s custody 24/7 and that Jo could not spend the night. Other than that, scheduling “supervised visitation” was our prerogative. John and I had decided that the most important thing for us to do was to create an atmosphere where mother and father could bond with their child with as little upset to our own kids as possible. Oh, and pray for the situation to resolve quickly. Really quickly.
I have known Roxanne for many years because we worked together and met Bebe through her. Actually, they came to a Bible study that I led several years ago. Not everyone who came remained friends, but there are a few of us who really bonded. Bonded as in sitting on the back porch discussing the troubles of the world and giving total acceptance to each other bonding. Which is how I got here. Within moments (literally) of the decision to place the baby (and pretty much his parents) at our home, my phone began buzzing incessantly with the other members of our back porch clan offering to help.
“Offering” is too mild a word. As May said on day one, “You are not doing this alone.” These friends showed up at my home everyday and did everything that needed doing. For days – weeks – on end.
Ames picked up SJ every morning and delivered her to school. May picked her up from school and did something fun every afternoon before delivering her home. (She’s spoiled rotten now, by the way.) Mitch came over with a case of toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, paper everything. And then in their free time, each of them (and others) cooked dinner and brought it over EVERY NIGHT. And then cleaned the kitchen. Roxanne came in every evening and took over Ava’s last bottle and got her ready for bed. Bebe came and stayed over on weekends and her days off to do night duty. And Jo came each morning to spend the day – sometimes 12 or 16 hours of the day – with her baby.
One night as there were a dozen people jockeying for food around my kitchen, Roxanne and I joked about our little “commune”. We are a far cry from “Charlie Manson’s Family” with the LSD and swastikas carved in our foreheads. But today, I can say with certainty that they ARE, in fact, my family.