When the news of us being pregnant and moving abroad had gotten out, my mother said, “You’re going to need help.”
I curtly shot back, “Mom, please. Plenty of women before me have had babies and raised them and didn’t have ‘help’ – I’ll be fine.”
When Rafa was born, my mom and grandmother were already here, helping us. When they left, they were leaving us with our nanny, Shelley. Thanks to her, I don’t remember the last time I really cleaned. I organize. I am a master organizer. With the help of Shelley, we don’t clean, we barely cook, and she takes Rafaella for a little while everyday so I could write. I think back to my mom’s words and my quick response. Plenty of women before me have had babies and raised them and didn’t have help. This is true. T’s also true that money doest buy happiness, but it sure does make life easier.
It has been a week since Nana came to visit and as if my mom and grandmother’s and Shelley’s helping hands weren’t enough, having Nana’s helping hands has truly been a blessing. With her help, we have our routine and now that we know how to be parents we are beginning to fall back into ourselves again. Going to the gym, going on a date (remember, we’re still newlyweds), really getting serious about writing – it’s all coming together. “When you want something the universe conspires to help you achieve it.” The universe is certainly conspiring, helping me become all of the things I want to be without feeling guilty that I’m failing somewhere else. I can be a good mother and still take time out of the day to be a writer. I can write and still spend time with my baby. I can be a great wife while finding time for friends. I can be it all.
When I was still pregnant, one of our friends sputtered the first half of the African proverb, “It takes a village…” as he handed off his daughter for Husband to hold for a moment. We thought it funny at the time, but now have an ethereal understanding of what that means. What’s even more beautiful is that when I think about it, I see that everyone has had a helping hand in raising our Rafa.
“It takes a village to raise a child” is right. And I’ll say again, plenty of women before me have had babies and raised them and didn’t have help. This is true and the fact that I would be fine without help is true too. But a village? A village is way better.
So to all of you who have held her, clothed her, kissed her, sparkly angel faced her, asked about her, changed her, “Dios la bendiga-ed” her, helped install her carseat, were concerned about her weight, were concerned about our weight, offered to watch her, checked out pictures of her on this blog with your daughter who says, “Mom… look it’s the baby Rafa” – to all of you who have had any part in this baby Rafa – you have changed our lives and become our village.