When it comes to raising children, they say it takes a village. I grew up as an only child, and my “village” was rather small. I didn’t have grandparents down the street and cousins in the same town. My neighborhood had children, but not every home contained a family of youngsters. There were retired couples, and single men and women, families with children gone to college, and every so often a family with a kid with whom I could play. But most of the time, I rode my bike to a friend’s house. There weren’t 50 kids frolicking on my street to keep me entertained.
Now I am a mother, and my children have a very different experience. Living in military housing, we’re grouped pretty much according to rank and household size. So most of the people living on my street are families with two to four kids. There’s a big park in the middle where they can play. On any given day, my children probably do have at least 10 playmates to choose from as soon as they walk out the front door. As parents, we know most of the kids. We make sure that everyone is safe and supervised. If I have to go inside to pee, I know that my neighbors aren’t going to let my two year old get run over. It’s a community. We sometimes have our drama, and there are days when I just want peace and quiet and to be left alone. But we have each other’s backs most of the time. If I fell down and broke my leg, I know that I’d have a ride to the hospital and someone else would step up to help me with my children. When your husband is deployed for 40% of his time, it’s a relief to know that someone is willing to step up and help should you need it.