It Takes a Village

Joseph Stalin is quoted as saying, “Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs.” I couldn’t disagree more.

By the time you see the next issue of the Fix in the shops around Fernie, I will be a father of three. I love being a Dad, and I love watching my wife be a Mom. Having had two miscarriages before having our first son, has helped us to appreciate just how precious parenthood is. That doesn’t mean I can always maintain anything resembling Zen calm when toothpaste gets squeezed out all over the bathroom, but it does help with perspective.

I have read that a major factor in resiliency in kids is the number and quality of positive relationships they have with adults who are not their parents. These are adults that kids could go to if something was bothering them. Our kids have loving grandparents, aunts, uncles, family friends, mentors and extended families who love our kids and have special relationships with them. Our kids love getting rides on the quad with Grampie. When the kids’ aunt, who lives in Fernie, visits, they race to the front door, shouting “Auntie!”... pure joy. When another friend of ours comes over, our kids will ask him to repeat his “magic trick” (distracting the kids and hiding a spoon while they’re not watching) that he performed months earlier. Their teachers and coaches occupy celebrity status. When the kids see these people in the grocery store, it’s big news.

Sure, for me, it’s nice to relax while someone else entertains my kids. Or to go out on dates, and be reminded why I fell in love with my wife, while someone else babysits. But those interactions, those relationships that our family and friends and neighbours and others build with our kids, are important beyond measure. Resiliency, simplified, is the ability to bounce back. Of course I love my kids. But when my kids see that other adults, great adults, love them and see something special in them too – that’s huge. My kids become more well-rounded, and less dependent on my validation. Then, during those times when their Dad overreacts about something like a spilled toothpaste tube, they might be more likely to blame Dad being cranky, rather than on some shortcoming of theirs.

We don’t see some of our old friends as much as we used to. Our lives are filled with family time and the many awesome children’s programs in Fernie. We are usually in bed much earlier than we used to be (and up earlier, whether we want to be or not). Our schedule is influenced by naptimes and toilet training, and all the other joys of parenthood. But we are lucky to have some pretty awesome friends. We get to meet up with friends who have similar age kids, and hang out with them while the kids play. For the friends who don’t have kids, they are flexible of our new reality, and are awesome with our kids. They play with our kids in ways that we don’t always get to as parents (and they provide us with some much-welcomed adult conversation).

I am grateful for all the people who help raise our kids and I want to say a big thank you to all of them. We are grateful for the awesome people in our kids’ lives, the ones far away, and those who make up our Fernie Family. It is true, what they say, about it taking a village to raise a child.

How about you? Are you grateful to someone? Have you thanked them yet? If not, why are you… stallin’?