What We Actually Imply by ‘It Takes a Village’
“Mom, she lives with her grandma and her aunt!” Said my daughter, shocked and delighted with another friend. “They all live together. Can you belive that?”
“Well, she’s a happy little girl,” I replied to my daughter. “It takes a lot of adults to help children grow up.”
The pandemic has torn our communities under our feet. Our families, our friends, our neighbors, and all of the adults who helped us raise our children seem so far away. While some of us raised our children with a partner, some of us alone and others created a mini village under one roof. During this time, multigenerational families are on the rise, in which three generations, including grandparents and toddlers, live together. While quarters of frequently interrupted Zoom calls can be tight, the benefits can outweigh the costs, including a slew of adults to raise the next generation.
My Grown-Ups, written by Kate Costigan and illustrated by Sarah K. Turner, is a wonderful reminder for my children and me of the importance of adults in our lives. The beautiful storytelling and illustrations in the book show us that there isn’t one type of adult – and that they are there for the tears, the laughter, and the lessons we learn along the way.
As I read the book with my two young children, I was reminded of my own upbringing. I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrant parents, and my younger brother and I were both born and raised in the United States. My father and mother left their families of nine and eight siblings respectively in India in the hope of starting a better life here. They were the only ones who immigrated into their families, leaving behind all the adults I would have had in my life.
I had always wished that a big family would grow up and wondered what it would be like to be surrounded by so many aunts and uncles and cousins. I was fortunate that my parents were two important adults in my life who showered us with unwavering love and support. I had others in my life growing up, the aunts and uncles in our Indian community who loved and looked after me. They weren’t blood relatives, but that didn’t matter. Over the years some adults have come and gone, and I still have contact with others today. In different moments everyone was there for me and contributed to the adult I am today.
“Your adults may look different than mine, but it doesn’t matter. This is fantastic; that’s fine! “The book is further shared. It has wonderful stories and examples that remind us that adults come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages.” None of this matters, either in this story or outside of it Pages.”
For my children, their grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, family friends and so many other village members are scattered all over the country. While we couldn’t see everyone during this pandemic, FaceTime and Family Zoom calls have helped my kids stay connected with those who are helping with their upbringing. Share knock-knock jokes. Reading stories. Show works of art. We do everything a village does to raise our children, albeit virtually.
While our personal access to adults has been limited, I hope that as the school year starts around the corner, my children will meet more important adults – their teachers, their taekwondo masters, and the parents of their classmates. All the new adults in our community and those who haven’t seen them in a long time. I want them to know that their adults, their family, are not just mom and dad. It is all the adults who touch their lives and help shape who they become and who accompany them on their own path to growing up.
And as the book reminds us, the most important and true thing is: No matter who your adults are, they will take care of you and love you.
Mita Mallick is Head of Inclusion, Equity and Impact at Carta and loves living in Jersey City with her husband and two young children.