Do You Rely on a Village?

Last week on the Early Mama Facebook page, I asked about an issue that I know is relevant to a lot of younger parents — myself included.

To be fair, I'm sure there are parents on all ends of the age spectrum that rely on family support. But younger parents can need more immediate, obvious help — babysitting while you go to class, financially supporting your entry-level salary, giving you a place to live while you get on your feet.

The kind of help that can make a younger parent feel self-conscious — more like a child than an adult.

Not all of you Facebook-ers agreed. Some of you live thousands of miles away from any resemblance of family (a thought that gives me anxiety, quite frankly), others prefer to live an independent life (no help needed here, keep on movin'), and some simply don't need any help whatsoever. But many of you understood that "I don't feel like a real adult" mentality — whether it's because of the constant advice-giving and undermining, or because of more direct financial ties.

All of our family situations are different, of course. Mine? Here's a little recap: I'm super close to my family. How close, you ask? I live ABOVE MY MOTHER. As in, above. We were in the process of buying a house, which is another issue for another post, when we ultimately stopped breathing heavily into our paper bags and realized we weren't ready for the financial commitment just yet. Not here, at least. My mom recently took a job managing a beautiful community of rentals when the place above her suddenly emptied. So we moved in.

Before we moved into this convenient living situation — where Noah can trek downstairs to play with Grandma, giving us some alone time — I talked to my mother every single day. If it wasn't a phone call, it was via text — even just a quick "love you!" That's just how our relationship's been since I moved out and went to college (just ask my former roommates who thought the situation was super weird).

(Quick footnote: Justin's close to her too, lest you think he's pounding his head against the wall for being a mere staircase away from his mother-in-law. There's actually been times, after Noah is soundly asleep, where he's texting my mom to come upstairs and hang out — getting all impatient, phone in hand. And I'm like THIS ISN'T NORMAL. JUST BE ALONE WITH ME! And all my best friends have been close to her, too. I think it's her.)

It should go without saying that we have family around us a lot. And, sure, there are times I'm feeling claustrophobic and undermined — like the endless toys and sweets are turning my son into a monster, despite our sensible pleading, and the fact that he's being influenced (behaviorally, socially) by a sizable group that's harder to control than a family of 3. But aside from that, he loves having his family around him, and we're happy that he can grow up alongside so many people who love him.

At the same time, I totally relate to the commenters who said that they don't rely on family because they have something to prove.

Is that just a young mom thing? That we have something to ourselves? society? the Universe?

Maybe it's because we work so hard to quickly build an "adult" life — to slip on our adult shoes, even if they're a size or two too big. Maybe it's because we're still a teeny bit self-conscious about our abilities, still lacking in confidence. Maybe it's because we're comparing our life to what we imagine it "should" be in our heads.

And then I realized...

Is there anything wrong with relying on a village? With accepting help from the people with outstretched arms? Families have been parenting this way for generations — why do we feel so guilty? So child-like? Isn't a support system one of the biggest factors for professional and personal success? Aren't we LUCKY to have our family still alive and healthy?

What about you? Do you rely on your family for help or support? What's your situation like?

Family print: Kate, $15