Way before my single mom days, I’ve probably heard the “it takes a village to raise a child” saying a million times. It didn’t resonate as much then, but now it does, especially after I came across this story the other day.
The article lists the 10 best citiies for single mothers across the US, based on a range of social and economic indicators. The 10 best cities include Boulder, Colorado; Trenton, New Jersey; Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina and the New York-Newark-Jersey City area, among others.
How does a city land in the top 10? Access to reliable public transportation is one. Affordable housing is another. A free, full-day pre-kindergarten program is also another consideration. New York City reportedly has 62.4% of its three and four-year-olds in school and this number is expected to increase since the city just implemented a free, full-day pre-K program for its residents.
Looking at the list, I remember all those times I was enveloped with so much uncertainty and a long list of questions. Should I move or not? Will my children do as well if I move them to another school? Will I be able to find meaningful work in another city or country? Most importantly, will I make new friends and be able to build another “village?”
Those days are over. I still look longingly at pictures of families strolling the streets of New York or passing time in the sidewalk cafes of Seattle. On a recent backpacking trip, someone remarked about her home’s accessibility to the trails in Oregon and I fleetingly thought – “why not?”
I’ve realized that my village is here. I may not have immediate family around, but my closest, dearest friends are here. They are my family here. We may not be related by blood but we are joined together by friendship, common interests and similar goals.
My village is far from perfect. It does not have good public transportation and housing is expensive. But such is suburbia. I can walk my daughter to school daily. I am on a first-name basis with the school crossing guards. I have good work connections and clients on all sides of the freeway. I have friends and an adoptive grandma my daughter can stay with if I have to travel for work. I can take a day off from work mid-week and hike for hours. This is my village.
Where is yours? How did you build your village?