It Takes a Village (and a Community)

by Maggie Cook

Maggie Cook
Maggie Cook

As we near the end of another school year, I can’t help but stop and reflect (with a healthy dose of disbelief) on how we’ve made it through another year – my husband, myself, and our two wild little girls. We moved to Chippewa Falls five years ago, but it feels like we just got here last week. I guess that’s life with a young family.

It’s so easy to get lost in our day-to-day schedules, rushing through our routines as we race to the finish line. And by finish line, I mean bedtime. Two kids, two full-time jobs, a 100-year-old house with countless little quirks, and an unending list of things to get done. How did my husband and I get though another year? We didn’t. Not alone, we didn’t.

We’re lucky to have what feels like an army of people helping to make our day-to-day lives happen. From my in-laws who watch the girls each Monday, to our incredible daycare provider Ms. Jodi, to my neighbor/sister-in-law, to my own parents who constantly jump in to fill those random half-hour gaps throughout the week. These people are always there for us, no questions asked. Like I said, we’re lucky. Stopping to thank these people – the ones who help us juggle whatever life throws at us – is more important than ever. They’re doing so much more than keeping our schedules on track. They’re helping us raise our children.

Navigating parenthood has been a constant “fake it ’til we make it” roller coaster. I’m betting no one truly knows what they’re doing. You just make the best decisions you can based on your own life experiences, and if you’re fortunate enough to have one, the experiences of the people, aka the “village,” around you. This village helps to keep our children safe, teach them manners, introduce them to new activities, and provide the foundation for well-rounded human beings. I know not everyone has this environment. But what I’ve learned from my time in the Valley is that there seems to be no end to what this community offers, from family resource centers to after-school programs to nonstop activities and events helping to connect my kids (and me) to other families, parents, and organizations.

I’ve been working hard to recognize the village around me – and to be a part of that village for the people I meet. If I can accept support, I want to offer it, too. And here’s the thing: I want my children to learn from this attitude. I want them to be there for their friends, their family, and their community today, as they scramble around the playground, and every day as they grow older. After all, we don’t just live in the Chippewa Valley. We are the Chippewa Valley.