It Takes a Village to Raise a Child | By Alyssa Berlin, PsyD

It’s one of those mornings again. At 5:30 am, my two-year-old son wakes up and starts to scream, “I’m hungry!” Translation: “I don’t want to sleep anymore. I want to go downstairs and play, and I know that if I feign hunger, Mom won’t be able to refuse me.” I lie there listening to his screaming, my head spinning, trying to think of ways to calm him before the rest of the household wakes. Too late. I can already hear my daughters talking to each other, which quickly turns to full-on screaming and whining. They’re arguing over who is the rightful owner of an old supermarket circular, something only valuable because the other girl wants it. I take a few deep breaths, and then I’m faced with my oldest son, who is already positioning himself to stay home from school today: “Mommy, my head hurts, my stomach doesn’t feel good, my feet hurt, and my throat … can’t talk …” Poor kid. If only he knew to pick one complaint and stick with it—there’s no way I’m buying his laundry list of ailments. And all of this before 7:00 am!

The antics continue throughout the morning, but by 9:00 am, all four kids are successfully in school. When I finally drop off the last one, I feverishly search for my phone and start dialing. I call my husband, my mom, a friend—anyone I can talk to about the craziness of my Monday morning. With each word, with every problem shared, I feel the stress diminish and the relaxation and calm return, because I know there are people around me who love, support, and understand me. People who can help me keep this morning in perspective and give me the strength and confidence to leave it behind me. People that can help me recenter, and prepare me to have a positive afternoon with my kids. Support is the knowledge that I am not alone, and the invaluable validation that what I’m experiencing is normal. There is no better feeling than having someone stand beside you and say, “I get it. I’ve been where you’re standing. You are not alone.” It has long been said that “it takes a village to raise a child,” and I believe that is the truth. None of us needs to stand alone.