Never have a I better understood the meaning of the saying “It takes a village to raise a child” until now. I have always valued growing up surrounded by supportive and loving friends a family members. I am the oldest of four children, the oldest of 19 grandchildren (on my mom’s side) and my brother is the youngest of 24 grandchildren (on my dad’s side) – I thrive in a big family. I always remember hanging out with my grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins, and having babysitters so my mom and dad could go on dates.
Fast forward to my relationship with my husband: he has four children from previous relationships. I fell right into the stepmom role and immediately understood that it is possible to love stepchildren as your own without taking away any of the love they have for their own biological mom. It was these relationships that taught me about the richness of love and how beneficial it is for children to grow up surrounded by so many people to love them.
After I had Aspen and hired our nanny, Carly, I told her what I had learned myself: please love her with as much love as you can muster. Because I know that love has no limits; there is no cap on how many people you can love, there’s always room for more. Even though I knew there would inevitably be moments in Aspen’s life when she would want Carly over me – and I would be very sad about this – I knew I would have to remind myself to suppress my ego in exchange for my daughter’s enrichment. Carly has witnessed the struggles I have endured as a stepmom, and because of those struggles I have promised myself I will never limit the love that others have for my children or limit my children’s love for others. I know now that with the incredible example that Carly has been for my kids they will be better people because of her. I also know that I will always be Aspen’s mom and she will always love me and yearn for me so if she needs Carly at a certain moment then I need to swallow my pride in order to help my daughter. This would be the trade-off I would endure as a mother who works outside the home. But it’s a beautiful gift for my daughter as well.
During my difficult pregnancy with the twins and after their birth I relied on Carly more than ever. I was bedridden for much of my pregnancy and Carly worked tirelessly from morning until night basically raising my daughter while I tried to keep the twins cooking inside me. These months were VERY difficult for me and I’d spend hours in my bed silently crying while trying to rationalize that I was doing the best thing for my family by staying in bed to keep the twins healthy, but looking at the big picture was hard. Even after they were born I was very tired and weak for a few months and got sick easily. I leaned on Carly more than I ever imagined I would need to.
Carly is a God-send to our family, she is our real-life angel. She has become like a daughter to us who is also a friend, a nanny, a confidant, a teacher, and – I can say this honestly and proudly – like a second mother to our three babies. Love has no limits and Carly has demonstrated this time and time again from the bottom of her soul.
As Carly gets ready to move on to her next chapter in life (she will move out of our home and become a full-time student) I am reflecting on how much life she has breathed into our family. Words cannot express the depth of the gratitude I have to her for sharing her love with us. She has taught me that it really does take a village to raise children and my kids will be better people because of it. So Carly, here’s to you. You have stolen a piece of my heart and for you I am grateful.