“How’s everybody’s baby doing?”
That’s what the Mayor of my hometown asked me at a community meeting last night.
Only in a small town would the Mayor (who is also a family friend) be so genuinely interested in the newest member of the community.
He was about the twentieth person to inquire about our little one that night. Business owners, column readers, classmates, old teachers, cops, waitresses, bankers, and so on and so on asked about her, because that’s what it’s like when you live in a small town.
Your baby is everyone’s baby.
I’m sure my friend who had a baby a few weeks after me had the same experience that evening.
Her baby is everyone’s baby too.
And while every mom documents her kids’ to an extent, I couldn’t help but be reminded last night just how reported Edie’s little life story actually is.
Because I’m a writer. A blogger.
And a newspaper columnist.
Which is not something I think about weekly, because I don’t want to induce a sorry case of writer’s block, but the words I write go out to half a dozen newspapers all across the state every week. Take that and add it to the support I get from you loyal readers on this trusty blog, and, well, Edie’s story has a substantial fan base that dates back to a time we didn’t think we’d ever meet her.
Yes, every week I get emails from people rooting for us, cheering us on, sending love and prayers and positive energy and sharing their own stories of what it was like to be parents to a baby as wiggly and wild.
Those thousands of people read about her birth, her first smile, her large shoe collection and her big farts…
(Oh, she’s just going to hate me when she’s a teenager…)
And while I know this baby is loved by me and my husband and all this family that surrounds us, I can’t tell you how overwhelming it is to realize that she is loved by so many others.
Maybe it was the energy in the room at a party dedicated to celebrating how far this community has come in the last year, despite the boom and in the face of a current and unforeseen oil slowdown. Maybe it was the fact that I was out doing my job again knowing that my baby was snuggled up at the ranch with my husband while I drank wine and chatted with familiar and new faces, but the mayor’s comment hit me in the heart last night, and got me thinking.
To be everybody’s baby. I wonder when she’ll realize it? Growing up in a small rural community you sort of take it for granted that there are caring eyes pointed at you at all times. You feel secure in knowing that the stands are full of your supporters at a football game, or a spelling bee, or your first choir concert. And if your parents are late in picking you up after a 4-H meeting (not that that’s ever happened to me dad…) in a small town you get to not worry, because it will be ok. There will be someone there to wait with you, because in a way you’re their kid too.
Edie has so much love and support here for many reasons, being the 5th generation community member and a child of a columnist are a few, and I am so happy that this is true for her. That she’s everyone’s baby.
But last night we reflected on how our town was getting bigger. We just completed and opened a new multi-million dollar high school. And despite the oil slowdown, families are still moving here with their young children. And as the elementary school classes grow and new babies are born to this now young community, I can only hope that the love and support we feel as new parents to one of the youngest members is not exclusive to us.
This isn’t a new concept. It’s the traditional “It takes a village” mentality. But just because it takes a village, doesn’t mean everyone always gets one.
I hope we’re doing a good job out here. I think that’s what everyone in that room was hoping for last night. I know it’s one of the biggest concerns we had as a community watching our town boom from twelve hundred people to somewhere closer to ten thousand in the last five years. We didn’t want to let go of our small town spirit. We wanted to fight for the ability to not lose one another in a crowd.
The kids in this community today are different than we were growing up. Many weren’t born here to parents who were born here. In fact, it seems it’s more common to be the new kid in town these days than to have roots here.
More languages are spoken, more perspectives are given, there are more miles driven to see the grandparents and more new names to learn. But I hope none of that makes a difference when it comes to missing the bus or forgetting your practice clothes for basketball or having to keep the library open just a few minutes longer because your mom was stuck at a meeting and couldn’t get to you in time.
As a new parent to a new kid in town, I can only hope that, regardless of how big this boomtown gets, each kid gets the chance to take for granted that she or he is every body’s baby.
And I would venture to guess that everyone in that room, the Mayor included, feels the same way.