Hi, it’s Mel from The Wayfarer visiting 12 Lunches today . . .
“It takes a village” is the old adage about raising children. The phrase surfaces a deep longing for living in a time when I might have had a village. Nostalgic thoughts of sharing housework, childcare and my entire day with other “villagers” has always sounded nothing less than divine and impossible.
While I have friends and family, many of them are not living in close proximity. We just spent our first holidays without family in a very long time. And it seems more and more of my contact, even through work, is done in a virtual world. Skype, texting, email and other technology has made it possible for me to be so close, yet so far from so many people. Yet these interactions have always seemed to be in a different category, not “real life.” I’ve downplayed the role someone who can’t have physical contact and regular visits could really play in my life.
But the stars have collided for me the past few weeks and I’ve come to terms with the power of a technological support system. Mama drama and a ride on the e-coli crazy train with my 6 year old son has shown me my “village.”
While nothing is seriously wrong, threats of seriously wrong things loomed. Walking became impossible and as his debilitating pain and swelling grew over a 10 day span, so did his temperature and my worry. He was admitted to the hospital and they were able to locate, surgically drain and are now treating the infection. Compared with all the things that could be wrong, this is not such a big deal. And yet, compared with our pretty easy life going in, it was big to us.
Through all of this, my seemingly non-existent village has surfaced as people extend love in ways they know best. Our families and friends rallied, both those near and far. People kept vigil by text, email and Facebook – awaiting news and offering help. Friends near showed up at just the right times – one coincidentally arrived during his surgery (it was not scheduled) and it turned out to be a time I didn’t even realize how much I needed the friendly distraction. Others stood in as surrogate “rescuer” to my other children, picking them up from school, taking them for the weekend or helping them when they forgot anything from a house-key to feminine supplies.
But the long-distance “villagers” were equally helpful to me. Though their gifts were not tangible, their presence was. Family, friends and co-workers (some of whom most or all my relationship with has been virtual) texted me at just the right times. My phone and email overflowed with prayers, love and support as well funny jokes and stories, e-books, and images of the what they would bring me if they lived close – who knew how nourishing for the soul a cyber meal could be? I told one that receiving a text felt better than made sense to me, and she replied “the divine doesn’t rely on making sense.” Relationships founded on and maintained via phone, Skype and keyboard work their way into the heartstrings. I no longer have an IRL (in “real” life) differentiation for those who are important to me.
My son is perking up. His fever is dropping, and he is promised a visit with the Wii. And I realize how lucky I am to have not only 21st century medical intervention, but this “virtual village” to go along with it.
How has technology changed your village?