I’ve thought about this a lot since becoming a mom. I want to be more than my sons’ mother.

No, it’s not dissatisfaction with my life. Quite the opposite: I want to take the deep love I feel from being my sons’ mother and share it with the world.

For as long as I can remember, I always had at least one other mother figure in my life. Whenever I hear the old saying, “It takes a village,” I think fondly of my expansive, modern-day “village,” and of how it shaped the person I became.

In elementary school, all the neighborhood moms (mine included) would open their houses up to sleepovers on countless weekends. They just couldn’t resist our puppy-dog faces as we begged for another sleepover (or perhaps caved when they just couldn’t take the pestering anymore).

Our moms spent countless nights listening to late-night giggles and (I’m sure) wincing at the sheer amount of sugary late-night snacks we consumed, all so we could make memories with our girlfriends.

In middle school, we made friends with the mom down the street we babysat for. She was younger than our moms, therefore (so we thought) cooler.

Beyond babysitting, we’d show up unannounced, play with her daughter, and chat like we were friends. But I know deep down she had our moms’ backs and was looking out for us.

As we got older, several friends’ moms opened their houses up to all their kids’ friends, any time of the day or night, so that we’d have someplace to congregate when we either needed our friends or didn’t feel like being home–often both.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, there were times we felt way too cool for that and would rather sit gobbling fries and getting endless refills of coffee at Denny’s. But for the times we just needed somewhere to be, somewhere to play board games or watch TV or chat, there was always a house waiting for us.

And that is the kind of mom I want to be. More than my sons’ mom, I want to be the mom who invites all the neighborhood kids in and the mom whose house is the home away from home.

Growing up is hard. It’s meant to be. So I dream of being that safe space so many others gave me decades ago: the space to laugh and grow, the space to always be seen and heard–a safe space with snacks and friends where the door is always open.

I promise to be that space, because it takes a village, and this world already has enough hate and drama.

Image by Amit Sodha from Pixabay