"It takes a village to raise a child," they say. Well, living as an expat with children certainly emphasizes how right "they" are. Being isolated from family and loved ones, especially in a transient location, makes it hard to rely on anyone for help raising your kids. Your community members are either 10 timezones away, leaving after the school year for a new job, or completely overwhelmed themselves.
So when my husband asked me (several times) if I like doing things like this - the awards, the decorations, the food, and even the lessons themselves, I honestly answered yes. I do enjoy it, but I also acknowledge and appreciate his trepidation at my involvement in these sorts of things - and at my own behest. He told me, as I sat hunched over my computer screen searching for free svg files of pianos and music notes, that I would be a great American elementary school teacher. I understand where he's coming from. I was going beyond my pay, beyond my time availability, and beyond my sanity safe-zone voluntarily and at the expense of myself and my family. If I stay up until midnight making piano award graphics and texting teenagers to convince them to come and play, my sleep-deprived self won't be my best self for my family the next day. I get it. I need to put my own family first; true to survival tactics 101, my family needs to have our oxygen masks on first.
Yet as I was hauling my kids to each week's piano lessons and coordinating childcare, keeping up with the practice charts, getting stuck in traffic with screaming kids in the car past their bedtimes, and all for just enough pay to keep it mildly professional and turn around and spend that money on refreshments for the recital... I have been oddly able to cope. I think it's because deep down, I know that I have been doing this because I'm a mother, and I value music, and I would want someone to do this for my child.
Because as a parent, you hope your child has that teacher who stays up late at night preparing amazing lessons and using their own low wages to do so. Of course you wish it weren't necessary, but you want the best for your child. You want those who are passionate to pass that love on to your child. You want your child to have support from adults outside your family. You want your child to learn new things and learn how to learn so they can become the best version of themselves.
And this is where that foster village They talk about comes in. For those parents whose kids won't listen to them, for those parents who don't know diddly squat about their child's interests (if my kids like science and math, I'm toast), for those parents who have a gaggle of geese running around and not enough arms to juggle it all, we need a village! And today's villages are not very warm or welcoming. Today's society has told me and many other moms that a village isn't needed at all because as a stay at home mom, it's my job to raise my kids myself and have everyone come out of that gauntlet perfect.
I can't do everything. You can't do everything. But we can all do something, mix up our somethings, and soon enough, perhaps a village will develop.
So if you are in my position, scouring the web for awards and such, here you go. Here's a drop in the village bucket from me. Take these and use them so you don't have to stay up late making your own. Use them to make a child feel special, appreciated, and ready to continue learning. Use them to show your kids how to create a village so their generation won't be as screwed up as ours with depression, anxiety, and shaming each other. They are 100% free, no logos, no hitches.
Use them to make your own life easier, for the love of reason!
And in case you missed the caption, here's the link to the program I used - also free. Just edit to include your info!
I love herbs & spices, cats, low brass instruments, international relations, culture, traveling, writing, and most of all, my family.