We sat across from one another sipping our coffee. She was traveling back to her college campus and had asked if we could meet. I jumped at the chance to hear about how her life was going. We talked for hours. I smiled at the adult she’s becoming.
It’s the best part of my job—these deep and true conversations with students who’ve left my classroom but still desire to connect, to seek advice, to fill-me-in on their lives.
I left that afternoon with a heart overflowing. I was grateful. Grateful her momma, my dear friend, allows me to be a part of her daughter’s collective village. Grateful my friend had no expectations that I share the conversation I had with her girl. Grateful I have so much to learn from my friend.
When our babies are new, when they reach out to us with tiny wrinkled fingertips, we are all they know. We fill their needs and fix scraped knees. We dry their tears and sooth their souls. We can’t imagine a day will come when their needs will extend beyond our arms.
But that day does come.
My own Ella is twelve—a middle schooler. She tells me so much. She tells me so little.
The two of us have a sweet relationship. I realize she only brushes the edge of adolescence. I teach teenagers every day and am aware how the relationships can ebb and flow. Yet right now, she shares with me much of her days and her struggles. But I don’t pretend to believe she shares everything.
It’s okay that she doesn’t. I didn’t either.
Even when the relationship with our parents is solid and good and healthy, rare is the one who tells all to mom and dad.
There must be a million bazillion reasons why. There will be times it’s because they need an opinion other than mine. Times they may just be hanging out in the carpooling momma’s backseat, and because they’re with friends, important conversations happen. There will be times they’re afraid to tell me despite my never-ending-momma love.
I will work hard my entire life to ensure my children and I communicate.
But sometimes we won’t.
Then my question becomes, who are they talking to if it’s not me?
Our children will always seek out their friends. That’s normal. But I also hope they confide in other adults.
I want to know I have a village of mommas and daddies and teachers and pastors and coaches and aunts and uncles at the ready. There will be moments when the best advice I can give my child is to seek the advice of another. And that’s hard for me to swallow.
But I don’t know everything.
So if not me, please, dear Jesus, may my babies seek the wise counsel of adults in their path. Adults I’ve chosen to put on that path and some I haven’t.
May I be willing to allow it to happen. May I have the wisdom to see there’s advice I might not be equipped to give. May I not be jealous.
I pray my children will always see my home as a safe place to land, but I want them to know they have other places, other people too. People that love them, will care for them, and also be willing to walk them down the rough roads.
It will be painful—this letting go and trusting. Because, unless in danger, I want those my children confide in to keep close their private conversations.
The phrase it takes a village seems cliché, overused. But as my children age, I am more awake to the realization each stage is hard, and I will always need help. I can’t do it alone. Cliché or not, I need my village.
My children need the village, too.