But what if you don’t have a village?
Or your village is too toxic for your kids?
My mother used to say it takes the whole family to raise kids. We lived at home with my grandparents living on the first floor. My parents had six kids, and it seemed like a lot more when you included neighborhood friends, boyfriends, girlfriends (when we were older). My mother had her friends with their own kids who were always around and sporadic visits from aunts, uncles and cousins. It felt like a village, a completely insane one- but a village none the less.
Sometimes I feel like I am doing my kids a disservice by not having a ton of family or our own “village” around. Although we do have family who lives around, we don’t see them very often. There are some members of our family who I just feel like are not positive to around my kids. You know the type! The ones who say hateful things and bring out every negative emotion you have ever felt in your life. I have heard from others who say unhelpful things like “How can you not be close with your sister/brother/parent? That’s your family, your BLOOD- you just deal with it”.
Is it worth it though to have family members around who are toxic? Are your kids better off keeping theses type of people at a distance regardless of their relation? While I try to keep my kids and their cousins close, my family and I not so much. I have pulled back from family over the past few years and I feel as though I am better off for it. I attend my nieces and nephews parties, and of course invite family to our kids birthdays as well. My family knows that I am here for an emergency and can be reached if needed.
But big family gatherings? No.
Baby showers for distant cousins? No.
Summer BBQ’s with old friends and family? No.
Before you cast me off as a huge witch, let me explain. I was quite close to my family at one time. But after many years of being a mediator, middle man and cast off… I slowly decided it wasn’t worth it to remain in a very toxic environment. Being put in the middle of fights, having grudges held against me and bad things said about me was just TOO much for my soul. I always felt like I tried my hardest and gave everyone all I had, but for what? To be talked about my back? Or blamed for things that weren’t my fault? Dreading family get togethers because I would be ignored and talked about -when I knew in my heart I didn’t do anything wrong?
No thanks. My kids deserve a better version of me. Not a mom who is constantly being pulled in 20 different directions. They don’t deserve a mom who is trying to mediate fights between adult family who are dead set on being enemies or starting drama. My kids needed me to be happy. One day I came across this quote on Pinterest:
In the end…I am the ONLY ONE who can give my children a Happy Mother who loves life.
That really stuck with me. I am the only one who controls my happiness. I guess this was something I should have known all along. Sure life happens and things aren’t always perfect. But I am the one who allows this craziness in – and I am the one who can boot it right out.
I intentionally chose to give my kids a happier mom. It was my decision to control the things I allowed in my life and in my mental space.
I stopped taking phone calls after school to listen to people complain about their life or their day – and baked cookies with them instead.
I decided not to feel obligated to attend dysfunctional functions – and brought my kids to the zoo all day.
I did not listen to gossiping, story telling an bad mouthing – and decided to read more stories to my kids.
And you know what? I am a happier mom. I worry less about family and their endless drama circle. My kids get my attention exactly where it belongs. That feeling of obligation to go family functions full of people that don’t like me or talk behind my back- it’s GONE.
You know what else? Everyone survived.
They all still have their dramatic interactions, but I’m not a part of it anymore. I set boundaries (which was hard) and I stick by them. If you can relate to this post at all, I encourage you to do the same. Although I still attend kids parties, I walk away if someone talks about someone else in hurtful way. I encourage my kids to stay away from drama and hang out with their cousins. My ONLY regret is that I didn’t do this years ago.
You are the only person who can give your kids a happy mom. Not your husband, not your mom, sister or your friends. If you have a village full of toxic people who are surrounding you with drama or stress, let them go. Sometimes it is not worth holding onto to people who couldn’t care less if you walked away. You will be happier for it, that I can guarantee.
Find your village. It could be online, just friends, some family, or a select few people. There are no rules for this village. Sometimes it may be just you and your kids- that is OK too!