You’ve heard the expression before – it takes a village to raise a child – and now that I’m a Mum, I get it. I mean, I understood the sentiment before (I’m not a total pleb) but it wasn’t until I created a couple of humans that I truly realised what it means to raise a child, without the help of your family.
You see I’m a Southerner and proud (don’t judge me). I left the safety of my village many years ago when I ventured oop Norf for university, with big ideas and no money. Upon graduation, myself and some of my favourite humans got a house in Chorlton and started coming to terms with the idea of adulting. It took some time but we eventually had jobs and rent and council tax in our names, like fully fledged grown-ups. Although we did have a game that came out during our legendary house parties which involved throwing sausages at a particular person, but still, we considered ourselves adults. Relatively speaking.
It was during this time that I first laid eyes on The Bearded Manc. He was aloof and cool and after noticing a band T-shirt I was wearing, he made me a copy of the latest album by The Strokes (yup, we’re of the mix tape generation. True 80s babies). A week later we were a couple who needed nothing and nobody else and I never considered leaving Manchester for the M25.
Fast forward a mere nine years to the birth of our first babe, The Bear, and suddenly the Norf/Saaaf divide felt vast. I physically felt it for the first time, all 200 miles of it. It was huge. What was I going to do with this tiny, little human and no village behind me? Sure, I had The Bearded Manc and he is as solid as Mount Etna but what about someone to walk to the park with or to make a cuppa when you can barely keep your eyes open in those first 6 weeks.
It wasn’t the set up I imagined when I pictured having a family as a young girl. I’d always fancied the idea of popping in to Nanny’s on a Sunday for a cheeky roast dinner or Grandad chasing the little ones round the garden with the hose in the summer and I mean it would be ruddy marvellous to have babysitters around the corner. Someone to lend a hand when things are desperate.
But let’s look on the bright side, because I am nothing if not optimistic. Always looking for a silver lining amongst the clouds. We don’t have a village. It’s more of a hamlet, if you will. You won’t find it on Rightmove (so don’t bother looking) because it’s only for a select few. We’re a bit elitist around here.
Our far-off villagers are missed but it makes time with them more precious and while I regret that my children can’t just run round to Nanny’s house, they do know that their extended families adore them. And I know that the love I exude is more than enough to sustain them. It’s enough to power a large city and they in turn pour that back into those they love when we travel down the M6, headed for the good old M25.
Oop Norf and Daaarn Saaf, Bear and Bunni are fit to bursting with love and that is all I need.