Both my husband and I come from extremely tight-knit families. Our immediate relatives are our parents, still together after 47 and 39 years of marriage respectively and our siblings (we have one apiece). To this nuclear group, we add an extended array of familial relations - aunts, uncles, first cousins, second cousins, grandparents etc.
Were this amount of relatives not enough already for most modern families, my own particular branches of the proverbial family tree are swelled further in numbers by the varied troupe of friends which my parents, sister and I, have had the good fortune to incorporate over the years. Many have become as dear to us as our relations connected by blood.
When Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's book "It Takes a Village" came out more than a decade ago, I never managed to read it but I remember thinking how amazingly clear the concept behind her title seemed. I understood the village part more than well. The woman who sits here before you writing this post is like a still in progress puzzle which is built of impossibly little pieces put together by events, by strangers, by actions but most importantly, by family and friends.
I am a product of my village and to continue the cycle, my village, itself a product, is something I continue to shape as it shapes me. Never did this obvious truth stand out so blindingly as when my son came into this world.
Few events can disengage us from the vanity of our self-love as having a child can. Few events can jerk us out of the selfishness of the me, as bringing a baby into life. All of a sudden, you care more for what is in the sphere of your existence because you know the power it has to equally affect your child.
In the last few weeks, because of the holidays, my husband, my son and I, have had the enormous good fortune to be inundated by visitors. Two sets of grandparents, plus an aunt and an uncle to my son have left their mark in more ways than my eyes and ears have been able to record. They have given of themselves to my little boy as only loving relatives can, and like a flower, truly, he has bloomed. While I rejoice in witnessing his burgeoning awareness to relationships other than that which he shares with his father and myself, my heart breaks for the interruption this invaluable experience will suffer at their eventual departure.
I consider my son's awakening to the loving family unit one of more important foundations that we, his parents, can provide him with in life and, for that reason I feel keenly how our geographical separation from our families impoverishes his existence. We are introducing him to the same family that forged us into who we are but I know that he will never experience that life-shaping link to the degree that we ourselves enjoyed.
Because of my son, I value my family more deeply than I thought myself capable of. Because of him, I honor my village and guard it so zealously now that some of its most important elements are not within immediate reach. In my moments of deep introspection - you could call it prayer - I thank everything under the stars for all I have even as I find myself wishing for more, not for me, but for him, my little boy who deserves all I can give, all that we can give to him. The very best village life can build. I wish that with my whole heart this New Year's day not only for my son, but for every child that comes into this world.
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