When the question of moving to Richmond came about first in 2009, we were skeptical. Now, though there is no where else I would rather live! After having moved around most of my life, this is the longest I have lived anywhere. I love the size of the city, the accessibility of everything, the natural beauty just a drive away in any direction and the many experiences we have had while living here.
More than that though, I love how the people I have met even just once have helped me be a better mom. There are invaluable lessons that I have put together in my best selling book that talks about how to give children strong values and a global mindset. Today though, I would like to today share how exactly every single person I have come across has been a big part of my parenting journey.
Walking Around Stores
When I was pregnant, shopping by myself finding things after a while would get overwhelming. But conversations with other moms who would gush over me, touch my belly or tell me their stories helped me know that I was going to be okay.
Even now, it is wonderful to come across people who may be having a conversation with their child and I look at them and we smile in that connection that is everlasting between any two parents.
When I was a young mom, with my first new born and then two kids, it would be strangers who would very kindly occupy my kids so I could check out the million items I had. Those last few minutes after shopping is when the little ones are the crankiest, for they either are hungry or sleepy. That’s also when a mom is at her wit’s end. I may not remember the faces, but my heart sends out blessings to everyone who helped me then.
When my children grew and we went to the many parks in Richmond, I am glad for all the new friends my kids made even if for that half an hour. People who are open to their children playing with everyone build a nurturing nature. Older kids would take the little ones under their wing and care for them as their own. With no family here of our own, and no cousins to build that caring rapport with, I’m glad my children had good momentary role models.
Even when we just go for walks, the friendly “Good mornings” are just great. Also, the many dogs my kids get to pet help me avoid getting a dog myself. Something I’m not ready for yet.
At Festivals and Events
I have yet to meet an entrepreneur or store manager who is downright mean. Everyone who owns a store is very friendly and knows how to value their customer and make them feel at home. Local stores and people who sell their wares at festivals are probably the funnest to meet as you learn about their struggles and relate as a person struggling to run a business. Great examples to share with your children about real world values.
It is wonderful to enjoy community events about raising children better, local art events aimed towards kids or conversations locally geared towards empowering your families.
You know where I’m going with this. You go to one and your kids are creating a ruckus. You look over at another table and see other kids their doing the same and you calm down understanding better that this is childhood and that’s just how kids are going to be.
I still remember the old man who came over to sit with my husband and me when we did not have kids and gave us advice and stories for almost an hour about how to raise a family and be good parents.
Local Online Communities
Richmond has many great online resrouces(you are looking at one of the most amazing ones right now!) and groups (Facebook groups / via Nextdoor app) that are built towards being there for parents. To help moms be a better version of themselves, even as we see ourselves failing in moments. Just being honest. Real conversations with people who believe in community and education.
You ask a stranger for references, and they jump in to give advice or share their experience. That is what helps build a strong community.
You may think its sounds like I talk a lot to people I don’t know. You are right! You may then think we Do need to be careful in our encounters. You are absolutely right there too. But we also need to keep your heart and mind open to those around you so you all can grow together. Something we need to teach our children for sure. For what is a stranger but a friend you haven’t met yet.
When you are a parent raising your children far from family, people you come across in the place you live form a BIG part of the village that your child grows in. They are a huge part of your community. Embrace it all! Recognize the value they provide and use it to be a better parent.