There is an old African proverb that says ‘it takes a village to raise a child’.
I remember saying this over and over to myself as I left our city life to move to the midst of rural Nottinghamshire. I repeated it in the hope that I could convince myself the whole move was even verging on a good idea. “It takes a village…it takes a village”.
I remember shutting the door on our suburban semi and watching the removal firm haul the contents of our family life out onto the main road. I turned around to the back of the car to what I naively hoped would be smiling faces, giddy with the new adventure ahead. What greeted me instead were three puffy pairs of eyes belonging to three bawling kids. Three kids who couldn’t bear to say goodbye to their favourite neighbours who had passed them treats and cuddles over the fence since they could remember. The three kids who hated the idea of leaving behind the only childhood friends they had ever known and ‘the best house ever’. Jesus.
My husband, oblivious to the torture in my car swiftly backed his new company car out of the drive and reversed it straight into the gateposts that he had managed to miss for the past five years, removing the bumper and taking out a headlight. Not a good Omen.
The journey from hell
I whacked up the volume on the radio to drown out the howls of anguish from the back seat. I uttered a stream of jolly phrases. ‘It’s going to be so exciting’ (‘I don’t want exciting said the first child’ I like it here). ‘Imagine all the new friends you are going to make’ (‘I only love my friends here’ said the second child’). ‘Just wait until you get to the new house get your own bedrooms’ (the baby just screamed and poked herself in the eye). I carried on dishing out platitudes and promises of exciting times, all the time muttering under my breath; ‘What the f*ck have you gone and done woman…we were happy here…we don’t even have bloody school places and need to appeal to get them into the worlds tiniest primary school that is chock bloody full…you don’t know ANYONE’. A stray tear rolled down my cheek. I brushed it quickly away before anyone else noticed this chink in my mother-armour.
The prophet Dave
We drove in a mixture of agonising silence, broken only by heaving sobs from my daughter, into our new village. The place we were to call home. The removal trucks (we have a serious amount of stuff, some of which is still in boxes in the store room!) pulled up alongside. Dave, the burly removal chap who had barely uttered a word as he packed up our old home, clapped me on the back and spoke. ‘I don’t normally say ‘owt love but you’ve picked a good’un ‘ere. You’ll be ‘appy ‘ere I can tell’. I’m not sure who was more taken aback by the comment, me in my over-emotional state or Dave (who looked quite alarmed that he had finally found his feminine side). But Dave, I’m here to tell you you were spot on.
Moving to this dinky village with it’s tiny school was the smartest move I ever made. The house is a God-send with it’s happy garden and chicken coop. The tiny school is like sending the kids to spend the day with family, every day. I have better friends here than I have ever had. During the agonising worst times of my back troubles, friends ferried my kids to school and back, dropped off shopping and helped with jobs at home. We pick up each other’s children like interchangeable mothers. Sure, secrets are few and far between when you know everybody and their mother, but if that is the price to pay for this life then I’ll take it. My new friends have even introduced me to the joys of gin. What more could a girl want.
Well, you can take the girl out of the city but…
Sometimes you just can’t take the city out of the girl. I love this rural life. I wouldn’t change it for the world. But sometimes, just sometimes, I long for the big smoke, the shiny lights and the hoards of people going about their colourful lives. Every now and again I need to escape and immerse myself in the noise and buzz of the city. Perhaps it is compounded by the fact I work from home, it’s a very quiet life sometimes. Or maybe it’s just because that wild child who loved the bars and dancing, loves shopping and people watching is still there and needs releasing.
This weekend I’m heading off on a very rare solo escape to the lights of London. I’m heading out of my comfort zone to BritmumsLive17, a conference weekend for digital mums, bloggers and brands and I can’t wait! I’m going to soak up all I can from some of the denziens of the pixel-world with the likes of Louise Pentland from ‘A Sprinkle of Glitter‘, Alison Perry from ‘Not Another Mummy Blog‘, Harriet Shearsmith from Toby and Roo and the awesome Vicki Psarias from Honest Mum. There are so many speakers I can’t wait to listen to and such a lot to learn.
I’m even going on a full afternoon course with Rachel Reilly from Rachel Reilly Photography to beef up the skills in my other sideline hobby. I’m fit to burst.
I’m putting just a touch of Wild back into this ‘Wild Mama’.
I’m going to soak up every, single, second. But, I know that when I step off the train on Saturday night and the car rolls down the very tiny hill (we are on the border with Lincolnshire after all) into our village, peace will descend again.
So yes, my village is raising my children. With a little sanity check from the big city x