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Things I’ve Learned from my Village

village2This holiday season, my heart is full. For the first time in a long time, I have a village.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always had family and life-long friends I could count on in good times and in bad, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had a solid, strong, local village.

In full disclosure, building this village took some effort. I had to open my heart, learn how to ask for help, admit failure, learn to let go, find balance, and model the village philosophy by providing support to others even when I might have been stretched a little too thin. While it hasn’t always been easy, the effort has paid dividends, and I’m so grateful for everyone in my life.

This year, I’ve learned valuable lessons from everyone in my village and I wish I could share them all with you. But, in the interest of time and space, I’ve decided to share with you some of the many things I’ve learned from the part of my village in which you are familiar – my fellow RMB contributors.

Focus more on the success
“I realized that I’ve spent too much time stressing over the areas where my son struggles and not enough on the areas he excels. I need to change my thinking, to stop focusing so much on the failure and start focusing more on the success.” – Lauren Bradfield

Let it go
“The kids brought out every ornament I have, 25% of which I’ve never ever used because they didn’t match the color scheme. Ornaments they’d made as toddlers in day-care; ornaments my parents had bought them as Christmas gifts; ornaments from my grandma. I smiled, put hooks in ornaments, cut pieces of tape, and made hot cocoa for the kids. I quietly hummed a morphed Christmas carol, an ugly stepchild from the marriage between the classic “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow” and Elsa’s “Let it Go.” When they were done, we all cuddled back on the couch and looked at the tree. With my kiddos on my lap and in my arms, I felt my evil OCD nagger quieting. The children were so darn proud of their tree. The entire room was filled with so much love the stockings themselves were nearly bursting at the seams.” –Fayth Ross

Think kindness
“Legislation around gun laws and mental health may be slow and difficult to change, but the message of kindness is something we can all teach as a grassroots effort to prevent future senseless acts of violence.” -Lynnette Bellin

Give myself a pass
“I admitted that I couldn’t do everything all on my own, and I gave myself a pass. I surrounded myself with a support group here in Nevada that I know would drop everything to help me if I called.” – Tracie Barnthouse

Remember husbands and dads are capable (even ex-ones)
“You don’t need to ask me if I worry about my kids while I’m gone. They’re in the more-than-capable care of their dad, so my worry is as much as any other mom’s when she’s not in the direct vicinity of her children.” – Bethany Drysdale

Paint a masterpiece
“In the end…I am the only one who can give my children a happy mother who loves life. Me. Not a character in a book, or an actress on TV—only I can paint that picture. And dammit, I want it to be a masterpiece.” –April Garcia

Let kids be kids
“Kids have enough things coming at them from society telling them to grow up without their parents adding undue pressure. Let’s allow our kids to be kids. The time they have in this space is so short as it is.” -Jessica Grundy

Ask for help
“The things we don’t see-people’s situations, unexpected medical things that come up, job loss, etc. are real.  We never think those things are going to happen to us.  But sometimes they do, and it’s okay to say, “I need a little help.”  It’s an absolutely humbling experience.” -Jessica Locke

Be patient and less critical
“(I’m on) a mission to become more accepting, more patient, and less critical. Because in the end, I don’t want to be remembered as the horrible stepmom who never showed love, who never expressed her pride.” -Betsy McDonald

Seek understanding
“While autism means different things to the people who live with it, for A. it means that she struggles with daily life. It puts her in a place where self-injurious behavior is comforting, where simple things like working in a classroom setting are impossible and where placing herself in constant danger makes sense. This is just a small glimpse into the day-to-day issues she encounters.” -Shelle Murach

Take care
“We can’t thrive without our self-care time. Without time for self-care, one cannot care effectively care for others. It’s something I see moms and families prioritizing out, stacking activities, chores and obligations until they blur into a ball of dread. Thriving means time to devote to yourself, time for the thing you’ve wanted to make, the hike you want to take, a bath or a video game. I know that I am a better mommy when I spend just a little time alone with my nose in a book.” -Jaime Schnell

Respect relationships
“I have a self-imposed rule in my life that I do not complain about my husband with groups of women and it’s rare that I say anything to even my close girlfriends.” -Jenny Petty

Appreciate strong will
“We have power struggles all the time, but I am determined to resist the urge to break her will. The character I see in her at two would make for a strong and independent woman. She is fierce, strong-willed, persistent, determined, stubborn and challenging, but deep down I love it. She is everything I want her to be in 16 years. I cannot and will not break that.” -Meagan Sabich

And my all time favorite…

Pinterest is ruing everything (and homemade frosted cupcakes should rule the school)
“I remember my own mother being a room mom, and she handmade and (oh, the shame) hand frosted cupcakes with a butter knife for my class parties, and those things were freakin’ delicious, and all I remember about those parties was that my mom was there and we had fun. But now we have Pinterest and we can’t just show up to a damn party anymore, ever, at any place, with a snack that isn’t in the shape of something. We can’t ever go to a kid’s birthday party where somebody’s aunt didn’t make a cake, from scratch, in the shape of a Frozen-themed ice castle.” -Jessica Santina

 I hope as a Reno Moms Blog reader, you enjoy these ladies as much as I do. Happy Holidays!


About Jennifer Woodbury Duval

Jennifer Woodbury Duval
A right coaster now living on the left, Jennifer Duval is a mom to two rambunctious boys, and works full-time in the communications department at a Fortune 500 company. Fueled by logic, she is a no-nonsense type of gal who doesn’t buy into the latest trends, but does like to try new, trendy restaurants. An avid reader, she also loves coffee, chocolate, Zumba, and discovering new places.


  1. Jessica Santina

    I love this post…we have a really great village, don’t we? I think it’s telling how moving and sweet everyone’s posts are, while mine is so snarky. 🙂 Glad you liked it, and I have REALLY enjoyed working alongside you and being in your tribe!

  2. Jenn

    You had some sweet ones too, Jessica, and I thought about including them. But I just love the Pinterest post so much! I also loved your 24 hours as the worst mom, and the dating other parents one. But Pinterest won out!

  3. Love love love love love this post! So true. I’m blessed to have such a strong village here in Reno.

  4. Thank you for letting me be part of your village!

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