Vive La Village!

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In Grey’s Anatomy, they have a real group effort when it comes to bringing their children up. I have it on good authority from a TV production student friend that it’s a common method in TV series of realistically bringing a child into a show. Apparently in ‘real life’, when you have a baby, parents tend to disappear; for at least a year, you wouldn’t see them at the hospital apart from maybe a cameo in one episode when they may pop in to say hello. However, in several episodes of Grey’s (I promise I don’t base all of my life decisions according to Grey’s Anatomy storyli…oh forget it, yes I do.) they talk about their tight group being a village.

Another common TV series theme is apparently having distant family members, for various reasons, and it means that they don’t have to write in family as a regular feature. And in Grey’s, they all have their fair share of family issues (and of course the title characters tend to all become very closely intertwined!)

Now, I don’t have family issues (Ha! As if any family has NO issues!) what I mean is, I know all my family and we’re all very close; and they are a frequent feature of our lives. BUT, the notion of having a village 1) hugely appeals to my ideal lifestyle and 2) can also apply very well to people in our lines of work/lifestyle. I know that sounds a bit like I want an entire workforce of people to take care of my children but that’s not what it’s about (I wouldn’t say no to a workforce some days but still..!).

When you bring up children you start to decide how you’d like them to grow up, what sort of people you’d like them to be, and it makes you think of the type of people you’d like them to be surrounded by. In Grey’s, (listen, just deal with it, this blog entry is practically sponsored by Grey’s, so there’s going to be lot of references..!) the kids will grow up surrounded by surgeons, hello fantastic role models. Admittedly they all keep nearly getting blown up, or shot, or in plane crashes but luckily even real life doesn’t tend to be THAT dramatic! In our life, we have a very theatrical and liberal/freelance group around us. And we have an open household, and a very busy/social lifestyle. We’re considered to have kind of a ‘different’ lifestyle; but the more people we meet, the more I’m starting to think that we’re not all that different really. BUT…we do have a village.

Meredith has a house where, at several points, colleagues/friends and family members stay with her and/or come in and out of the house. And in one episode when someone asks about it she says ‘They are family, and I love my family, and they will always be welcome in my home’. And I feel EXACTLY the same. Some of our ‘frequent flyers’ ARE family…like, by blood and everything. But the other people who are frequently with us or a big part of our life are also our family, it’s who we choose to be around our girls, around us and generally a part of our village!

As in Grey’s, (seriously get over it, I just flipping love this programme) not everyone suits that kind of lifestyle, and that’s fine, not everyone in our life has to be family OR ‘family’! I’m a big family kind of girl, all in, all welcome, if things get bad, turn up at our door kind of deal. It goes both ways, the people in our village bring a huge amount to our lives. (I now realise that as I type I sound a bit like we’re part of a cult…it’s not like that I promise, it’s just a one off vial of blood we require when you join…I’M OBVIOUSLY KIDDING)

Anyway, it’s true, the first year of having a baby is quite crazy, and your lifestyle definitely changes dramatically. But personally I feel like we owe it to our girls to show them more than just a life of baby groups and women as Mums and wives. (VERY IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER – thousands of people CHOOSE to be stay at home Mums and there is NOTHING wrong with that, part of what women at the turn of the 20th century fought for was that choice. I personally want to show my daughters as many different options as I can. If either of them, or both of them choose to be stay at home Mums, I will be thrilled, as long as they’re happy, I’ll be 100% behind them. What’s important is the choice.) Which brings me to the next part of todays blog post, my gratitude for my village, and specifically, the women in it.

The choice for women used to be very simple, have children and take care of them at home, or be a hard hitting career women and be a secretary with no children. This is obviously hyperbole, there are some amazing figures in history that defied the options and paved the way. My point is, there were not very many options for women to take. Now, we can do anything! AND have a family…I’ll pause for the shock to sink in…

There are some brilliant parents in my village. Much the same as some of the female characters in Grey’s (props to Shonda for some AMAZING female role models) Mum’s are badass. I love all the Mums in my life and their varying parenting styles have become the manual for what I’m doing. But there are also the women in my life (who have children or don’t, being a Mum isn’t a ‘one option’ choice); but are inspirations for different reasons. Whether because; they’re passionate about education and are working incredibly hard to get to where they want to be; or they’re abroad travelling and we only get to speak on Facebook every few weeks to swap stories; or they’re working on a scientific study despite the EU funding being dropped; or they’re running a Montessori style nursery and giving my daughter the best start in their schooling; or many other awesome things. My point is, there are some really kick ass females in my life and in my village and I LOVE that. And what’s even better, is the strength and support between all those women. I will go to the ends of the earth for whatever my daughters want to achieve, and they will know that that’s how women are with each other because they will have grown up seeing the people around them succeed, and support each other, and help each other in the inevitable tough times. And so it will be second nature to them.

So my TV student friend is correct to a point; TV shows use a variety of techniques to work round any filming issues they may face, but she was wrong on another account – becoming a parent isn’t a resignation from ‘real life’, it really depends what you want your real life to be. Now I’m fully aware that Grey’s Anatomy is not real life – or at least that’s what I tell my therapist to keep her off my back about her ‘living through a TV show’ theory…! But one of the reasons I really love the show is because of the ethos, the role models, the themes and the relate-ability (relate-ability to a point of course…remember that time it turned out I had a half sister who was a first class surgeon but then she died in a plane crash a year after I was shot..? Yeah me neither!). And I LOVE the village analogy the programme has given me, I love the idea of a community. Do I want my daughters to grow up with their only influences being just me and my husband? Hell no! I have no problem admitting that we are both very flawed! Don’t get me wrong, so is everyone, but at least within a community, they’ll have plenty of help getting on top of any inherited flaws!

In the programme (last Grey’s reference I promise!), they are all very involved in each others lives; a lot of the people in our village are extremely busy, or in a lot of cases, don’t live close to us to be in and out of our lives more than a couple of times a year but this distance doesn’t make them any less important in our life. Similarly, we don’t have to be in each others pockets to know we’re all there! In fact often, such a busy schedule makes us appreciate time to ourselves all that much more, it enables us to really cherish time as a couple or time as a four. And certainly the other people in our lives have their own stuff on when they’re not here playing games or working with us or dressing up in silly outfits because we’ve decided on some ridiculous theme (which happens more than I care to admit but I LOVE how much people join in and embrace our ways, it’s why their our family!) so we don’t expect to see them all, all the time!

Anyway, it may be a fictional series with fictional characters, but our village is real, its awesome and I wouldn’t have my life, (however left field it may sometimes feel!) any other way! *Credits roll and theme tune plays*

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