I often say I am a “village parent”, meaning I believe in the idea that it takes a village to raise a child. Maybe I came to this notion as a kid, or when I was immersed in deep, sincere community in Boulder that felt like a big, messy family. Regardless of where I came to hold on tight to this ideal, from way before Rayna was born, I have needed a lot of help. Instead of feeling like an inept person, I’ve clung to the adage and lived into the idea that it takes a lot of different supports for one to thrive. It’s not just Rayna whose being raised by the village; it’s our whole family.
Here in Chile, it still rings true. Except sometimes, it sounds more like “it takes a city…” Last week, after buying the ‘bono’ that would allow me to take Rayna to her doctor’s appointment (like a pre-paid deductible you have to buy at your health insurance provider’s location), two different men tried to help me while my screaming toddler refused to get into her bike seat. One held the bike for me, the other picked up a fallen lock, and both seemed to genuinely just want to help out a mama who was clearly struggling. Later that same day, we rode over to a famed bakery to pick up a tres leches cake that was supposed to be just amazing. Unfortunately, I realized when I arrived at the bakery that there was no way I could transport the heavy cake, as much as I was tempted to try. I opted for a few other sweets instead, figuring they’d be placed in a bag, but which were instead delicately wrapped up for me and tied with a string bow. After rejecting the cake, I didn’t have the heart to tell the baker that I probably couldn’t manage the other sweets in the lovely packaging, so I paid for my goods and headed back out to my bike, not sure what to do. As I was again getting Rayna situated in her seat (no screaming this time, thank goodness), a stranger approached us, and though I couldn’t quite follow what he said, I’m pretty sure he was chastising me for having a baby on a bike. But then, despite his disapproval of my mode of transport, he noticed my baked goods neatly wrapped on the ground, and went to his fruit cart to retrieve a plastic sack that would allow me to hang the goodies off a handle bar. When we were all packed up and stable, he bid me goodbye with a smile, and I felt cared for and I bet Rayna did too (especially because she got to enjoy a few bites of lime pie later that night). People are constantly tapping me on the shoulder to let me know Rayna threw her shoe out of the stroller or getting up on the metro so that we can have a seat. We also continue to be amazed by the kindness and patience of our friends here, who take us to the crazy La Vega market or watch Rayna so we can do things she’s not quite ready for (I’m thinking once she starts walking, we start signing her up for races, but it just seemed a little premature to have her in the We Run Santiago half-marathon when she’s only taken a handful of steps without assistance;).
And sometimes, it takes more than a city, it takes creation! Last weekend, we drove out of Santiago to the Cajon de Maipo, a beautiful canyon where we could see snow capped peaks behind rocky gorge walls.
We parked at a rustic camp site some friends had recommended, and were stoked to take advantage of the climbing routes on a mammoth boulder right by the camp site. After setting up tents and failing to get Rayna to take a nap, we put on our harnesses, located our climbing shoes (it is INCREDIBLE how much stuff a family of 3 brings for ONE NIGHT of camping), and then realized, to our dismay, that no one had packed the rope. Rayna, how could you have forgotten that?!?! We were a little crushed, but Jeff had seen a couple and their son setting up routes and figured there was nothing to lose in asking if they happen to have brought an extra rope. And you know, they had! We spent a sweet afternoon enjoying the beauty of nature while chatting with the friendly family who had not forgotten critical adventure equipment. Just looking at the vast canyon walls, hearing the big river running just a few meters from us, and watching the huge water fall recharged me, and Jeff and I talked about how interesting it was that the city drains us while nature has the opposite effect. While the night didn’t go quiiiite so smoothly (turns out a missed nap plus a tent does not a happy toddler make), eventually Rayna was asleep, we had a roaring fire, and our souls felt better.
So as we approach Thanksgiving, we are so grateful for God’s provision, and the incredible blessings we enjoy. I appreciate that so many people are willing to help us grow, whether its friends teaching me the Spanish word for swings or strangers helping my child not flop onto the sidewalk. If you’ve been part of the village that is raising us up, I am thankful for you especially. Love!!!