This Valentine's Day finds me with a broken wrist. I wasn't sure I'd even be able to write this a week ago, but my pain has significantly lessened and I've managed to type quite a few long Facebook messages and even a blog post with one finger on my phone's keyboard, so I figured I'd give it a go :).
It turns out that breaking your wrist, in addition to being exceptionally painful, renders you practically useless in a lot of ways. This is especially true when your main "job" is to run the household and drive kids around. I'm starting to learn to do a few household tasks with just my left arm, but there are a lot of things I simply won't be able to do until my wrist heals, including driving.
This has required that our family depend on other people more than we normally do. It started as soon as I broke my wrist, because the accident happened when we were out roller skating for Kittygirl's birthday party. We could have called all the parents to get their kids and brought our own kids to the ER, but we decided we didn't want Kittygirl's 9th birthday to stick in her mind as the year her party was ruined. So I started calling the parents of the girls. First one dad showed up to stay at the roller rink with the girls while Mr. Engineer took me to the ER. While Mr. Engineer was gone another set of parents showed up, which allowed both of our vehicles to be driven home with all the girls so the sleepover could continue. Finally one more mom left her book club early to help with the party and then stay with the kids while Mr. Engineer went to pick me up at 2am.
None of these parents are my good friends, let alone Mr. Engineer's friends. I like them all, and some of them are closer to friends than to friendly acquaintances, but it's not as if I live in a mythical world in which the mothers of my daughter's friends are my best girlfriends and we all go out for drinks or coffee once a month. However, despite that they were willing to drop everything to help us when we needed help.
Since then, my mother and then my mother in law have come to stay with us and help. Next week my mother in law will have returned home and we'll need help again, particularly with driving the kids around. I put a call out on Facebook, not sure what would come of it. I was surprised with several offers of help, including some from people I know even less well than the parents who helped at the party. It looks like we'll be able to get the kids home from school every day.
All this has led me this Valentine's Day to reflect on two related concepts. Because I've never been that great at making friends I've always been a little skeptical of the phrases "Find your tribe and love them hard" and "it takes a village to raise a child". I never truly felt like I had a tribe, and the village, well, I wasn't sure I needed it anyway.
This need to depend on people lately has shown me that I really do have a tribe. We don't go out for regular girls nights, but they show up when I need them. It turns out that they're also part of
the village that is helping me raise my kids. My kids need examples of other adults who are adulting well and particularly other adults who can show them what it means to love and follow Jesus. Another part of this tribe/village showed up big-time for Squirrelboy a few weeks ago when one of his teachers challenged his faith and he was looking for resources to show that Christianity isn't entirely illogical.
So what's my point? John Donne wrote that "no man is an island" and I think that applies to families too. If you already know who's in your tribe/village, awesome! Don't take them for granted. Make sure they know how much you love and appreciate them. If you're more like me and you feel like you're the last living member of your tribe or your village is a ghost town, look around. They may be just out of your sight. If you still can't find them, take the first step and find something you can do to be part of someone else's tribe/village. That may be the first step to finding one of your own.
This Valentine's Day, by all means express your love for your significant other if you have one. Also make sure you look around for the less obvious people who show you love in some way. Maybe you can find a way to thank your tribe on Valentine's Day. If you're part of mine, consider this my Valentine to you.
Find your tribe and love them hard, on Valentine's Day and otherwise.