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It Takes a Village…

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

By Cortney Amundsen

Until about 2 months ago, the saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’  meant that family, friends, and community played a role in raising children. I have a greater understanding of the phrase now and I’d like to share my little spin on it.

I relocated to Seattle, WA from the Twin Cities of MN for graduate school in 2009. I studied ecopsychology and it changed the way I live my life. I care deeply for and have a vivid awareness of nature and how humans are connected to the ‘Whole.’ Embedded in the ecopsychology program, I studied mindfulness and outdoor recreational activity/wilderness restoration and became aware of my environmental identity. I attributed much of my newly found identity/lifestyle to Seattle and the sense of place I became very attuned to while living there. Therefore, I was sad when I moved back to Minnesota, although, I always had one foot in MN as my family was wrapped around that one leg. It was family after all that brought me back. Family and the trauma that accompanies it.

So I was thrilled when my colleague and good friend Tiffany sent me the link for a job in Seattle that aligned perfectly with my educational background, experience, and interests. After a long hiring process, I was ecstatic to be moving back to the city I loved for a job that I thought was my dream job. My partner and I drove to the West Coast with our 12-month-old in the backseat with as much ‘stuff’ we could fit in the car. My MN family was sad to say goodbye but supportive. My Seattle family (all 5 college friends of mine) were excited to have me back around and to meet my daughter. It was all great…for the most part. There was the difficult part about my partner flying back to MN to our home and his 11-year job and daughter. We would miss him but we’d both make visits as often as possible. I found daycare and as hard as it was both my daughter and I started settling in. Then the travel started. I was traveling constantly and overnight and weekend daycare was a must. I loved the job, yet everything that I thought was going to be so great about being in Seattle was not happening. I wasn’t there enough to spend time with my daughter and bring her to all the parks I loved. Nor were we able to spend time with the people I wanted her to grow close to. She was at daycare most of the time and while I adored the provider, not seeing her for 6 days at a time was breaking my heart not to mention my paycheck. My MN family missed us and we missed them. When the stress of the job became too much it had to end and I was heartbroken to leave Seattle. A piece of me always vanished when I left Seattle.

Then I came home and started putting the pieces back together. I realized that I could live that lifestyle regardless of the geographical location I’m in. When it came down to it, it was the ideas and perspective that I gained while in Seattle that I was scared I would somehow forget or fail to see while away. And if I forgot how would I show my daughter?

That’s when I started thinking about community. A close friend of mine in Seattle shared her insight about community with me. She said that it was important to decide what my idea of community meant and that I could build my community around my ideas of what was most important to me. I knew that family was important but family meant something different.

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