We all know the saying, that it takes a village to raise a child. Which cuts deep when your village is small or non-existent. My village includes my husband. Otherwise we pay daycare centers and babysitters to help us care for our children when we cannot. My parents are 600 miles away and do what they can from afar but on a daily or even weekly basis the distance is felt.

Unfortunately my husband has lost both of his parents. I was so fortunate to know my mother in law and have her in my life for 6 years. She was beautiful and joyful and the best grandma to my niece, nephew and for 3 years, my son. She was diagnosed with a chronic illness which limited her physical activity but she loved spending time around the kids. One big sadness I will forever carry is that she never met my daughter, who reminds me so much of her.

Grandma “Gaga” Mary and baby James

If one of our children is sick we have to call off work, which for me always brings guilt too because I either have to burden my co-workers or boss or have longer days later in the week. But my children always come first, and nothing is more healing that mommy and daddy snuggles. And endless episodes of their favorite shows.

I can’t help but feel a pang of sadness when I hear of kids going to their grandparents house for a day or weekend, because for my kids, we are all they have. I grew up without my grandparents because they were in my parents home country of Sri Lanka until they each passed away. It may be why I have a fondness for the elderly population now. You will find me at any party chatting up someones grandmother-they have the best advice and recipes and life hacks!

My son recently was hospitalized for a short but frightening bout of benign acute myositis. My husband and I rotated being there with him and being with our daughter, and to say I was exhausted after that week barely begins to describe it. It also felt so empty, not being able to call anyone to come. We have my husbands extended family here and I know they would have come had we called, but there’s also my hang-up about not being a burden to others. I know everyone has lives of their own, and because the relationship isn’t as direct I don’t feel like I am entitled to ask for support.

James and Amaya with Papa and Achi

We hope to move closer to my parents some day. Especially as they are aging and my require our support as well. I want my children to know what it is to have other family around, to know older generations and to learn from them. To have a sense of security not only from their parents but that they have a whole safety net of people around them. What I want most for my children is to have that feeling of the “village”-a place where they belong and are loved and welcomed with open arms at any time.

Until that time, I am very fortunate to have my husband who is my rock by my side. We have persevered through many trials and tribulations and have come out stronger and closer at the end of each. Sometimes it’s nice just to have the four of us, cozy in our house, knowing that our family unit will have strength and love. Home is where the heart is, the village is where you make it.

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash