Even if we assume that the village always functioned in the romanticized manner she described, I'm happy to wrap myself in my online village. In that archaic village, for starters, I wouldn't have the rich opportunity to connect with as many families like mine: transracial adoptive families (and adoptees or first parents who round out the adoption triad), special needs families, other parents with HIV+ children (in private groups I can't link to, for the sake our our children's protection), and so on. Our daughter Zoe will have a potentially life-changing surgery in St. Louis in October, and I would never have known about that from a local village without more global connections. Furthermore, she and I will stay with one online friend and her family while we're in St. Louis, and we have a back-up option with another Facebook friend.
I promise, Mom, these friends are safe. Don't worry!
Beyond that, though, I know I'm not alone in making a mothering village out of Facebook. Just as the HuffPost blogger wrote about "doing the washing side by side, clucking and laughing hysterically, tired in body but quick in spirit," I find myself checking in online with other mamas, near and far, in between filling my modern washer and dryer (which, after washing by hand for six weeks in Uganda last fall, I will not take for granted again). Even as I get frustrated at times at all the lack of listening and lot of yelling online, I don't buy that those same behaviors wouldn't be present in the village too, even if they would be much less public.
Here's how my village works. I posted, with great vulnerability, what I was feeling on Monday without any pretense or facades.
What happened? My online village rallied with likes to affirm that I wasn't the only one and comments, messages, and texts to encourage me in this mothering work. A fellow mama of many whose youngest is about to turn 18 asked if she could bring me Starbucks and then stayed to join in the sorting, folding, and hanging of little girl and boy clothes, making heaping baskets seem far less daunting as we tackled them together. A couple friends asked if we needed food (after all, that's how we show love here in the South) and another - after seeing a couple posts on Instagram about our summer colds - offered to run an errand or two if that would help.
Does Fakebooking happen online? Yes. Does wearing a mask and pretending all is well and then crying in the confines of your own house or hut or tent happen in the village too? Yes.
Community doesn't have to be the village. Community can be an online forum or a group of adoptive parents at a guest house in Uganda or the passing conversations in the halls of the elementary school as we meet the teacher and drop our children in classrooms and head off to homes or jobs or the discovery of who we are as women after the years many of us spend primarily as moms with little ones underfoot until they're school aged and we're not quite sure how to fill our days without those grubby hands ever present. Community is a homeschool co-op or a Bible study group or a series of group texts. Community can be Twitter or Facebook or blogs, and community can be coffee shops and laundromats and mealtimes.
I refuse to buy into the notion that present day villages can't be made, that community evaporates in the presence of doors that lock and machines that wash clothes and other modern conveniences, and that today's motherhood has to be as isolating as that HuffPost blog writer describes.
What would our parenting experiences be like, I wonder, if instead of wistfully waxing about the village of days past, we chose to create our own modern villages using the technology from afar and touches near that this day and age has to offer?