Building Sophie’s parenting village

Katie and Blaine called in lots of favours during a 24-hour power outage this past weekend.

Sophie

We’re having one of those months. Nothing seems to be going our way. (Yes, I know, it could be much worse. We have our health, a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, family who love us. But we’ve still had a frustrating few weeks, and that’s allowed.) This past Sunday was the icing on the sucky cake.

I was in the grocery store on Sunday afternoon when a summer storm hit. Blaine texted me just after I’d wheeled my cart into the produce section: “Power is out.” “Okay,” I texted back, “let me know when it comes back on.” I continued with the shop, happily checking things off my list (I love grocery shopping. Weird, I know). I didn’t even think about the fact that he hadn’t texted me back yet. And I didn’t remember the exchange at all on the drive home, singing away to the radio and thinking about what I’d make for supper, until I saw that the traffic lights were out on the corner of our street.

It had only been about an hour, so I wasn’t too stressed. I took the groceries upstairs and we waited for the power to come back on before opening the fridge or freezer to put the groceries away, just in case we needed to keep the cold in (my mama taught me well). Another hour passed. And then another. Finally at 8 p.m., four hours after the outage, I said, “I guess we’d better take the perishables to someone else’s fridge.”

Our good friends Lani and Zack were happy to lend fridge space. And, with no hot water in our apartment because the water heater wasn’t working with the outage, a warm bath for Soph. We interrupted their dinner and everything. We owe them a bottle of wine, stat.

By the time we returned home, we were in the dark and the fire panel in the building was beeping incessantly. Try getting an 8-month-old to sleep through that. So, when the Toronto Hydro phone line told us there was no estimated return time, we packed up the babe and headed to Guelph (where we had just returned from that morning, and where our incredibly cranky baby woke the house up at 3 a.m.). It was just one of those days.

But, it made me think: In just a few short hours, we’d called on good friends, my parents and my sisters. In the next 18+ years, I imagine we’ll call on them, and so many more people, to help raise our girl. I’ve heard it takes a village, obviously, but I’d never realized that the village grows in leaps and bounds with every day that passes. Soph’s godparents, her daycare instructors, her teachers, the parents of her friends, her coaches when she starts baseball or soccer (or lawn bowling or curling — whatever she wants to play is fine by us) — they’ll all take up residence in Sophieville. You have a baby and that baby is yours to love and care for forever, but you can’t, and shouldn’t, do it alone. I actually think you have a responsibility to introduce new people to share their gifts and talents and nurture something different in your child. It’s our job to build the village, and we will take the task very seriously. I’m already considering calling a town meeting to talk about her birthday party in November. (Kidding. Sort of. Townsfolk, don’t roll your eyes — I’m just excited. And organized.)

I’m looking forward to August so we can put July and its silly frustrations behind us, but I know the setbacks are character-building and they always work out in the end. Of course the power came back on the next morning, none of the groceries went bad and Sophie was back on schedule by bedtime Monday night. It could be so much worse. And at least we got the chance to visit Soph’s ever-expanding village. But I’m still counting down the days until August 1st.

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