Reestablishing the Village

Last year around this time, I was in Guatemala. The families we visited had nothing but each other. The chickens ran through their dirt floored living rooms where the children played, huge smiles spread wide across their little faces. The women, draped in long skirts, wraps in their hair, dirty aprons tied around them tight, their expressions were less jovial. Creases in their brows told stories of strife and struggle, smoothing at the sound of their children’s laughter, or the promise of seeds for their garden. We drove past the one area in town that supplied running water, a covered area with cement tables for washing clothing and filling buckets. Women stood shoulder to shoulder, talking and smiling, all of them working in a line doing their own and each other’s laundry.

I think of these women often. I remember feeling envious of them, even. Me, a white American women encased in my North Face jacket, clutching my iPhone, not worried about my next meal or when I will shower or how I will feed and clothe my children. These women have something that I don’t, something that as Americans we’ve sort of lost touch with; the tribe mentality of helping our neighbors. The notion that we’re all raising our children together, not in competition with our sisters to be the smartest, have the most, excel infinitely, to be better than.


A friend of mine had her fourth baby last week. I don’t know her especially well, as we only met after I moved to Santa Cruz, I hadn’t been to her home before yesterday, and she hasn’t been to mine. I thought of those women in Guatemala though, and resisted the urge to go to her home and gather her laundry, do her dishes and sweep her floors. I did make her family dinner though, what felt like the very least I could do. I’m not even sure if her kids like lasagne, but it was actually good for me to at least try to help her, and to contribute to a collective goal of reestablishing the tribe. A couple of neighbors made meals for my family after Evangeline was born, it was overwhelming to feel cared for… To feel as though I wasn’t in this alone.

Motherhood is so much more about community than it is simply about raising one’s own children.


I began writing this blog way back when to serve as something of an online journal of our lives. It was for me, it was for my family. It still very much is.

If you’ve been reading for some time, you’ll know that I treat it that way, especially with my personal posts. It’s a place for me to dump my brain about the universe of my family that exists under my skin, because when it’s just me and my keyboard I can focus on them, and I can focus on what’s good for me.


Lately I’ve been finding myself in a bit of a tailspin. Between the travel, work, the kids and their activities and of course a new baby, I’ve really needed to figure out how to make time to care for myself. Writing is good for me. Taking photos of my children is good for me. As it turns out, taking care of others is good for me, too. The nights that I’m able to cook meals for my family and others are really therapeutic. The ingredients, the churning, the smells… I’m literally filling my home full of love and comfort and it is better to me than an hour at a spa.

What I didn’t expect, was finding such comfort in the community that has been congregating here with all of you. In a way, we’re all doing the laundry, shoulder to shoulder. Laughing, talking and sharing our stories. It feels like the village I never had.

The bond that we share as mothers and the landscape on which it commiserates is changing though, and while we might not be actually sweeping each other’s floors, we are connecting digitally and that’s a start. And I’m really grateful for that.

Photos by Ana Schechter

Join the Conversation


  • I’m not a mom, but someday I hope to be. That was a really beautiful post. Thank you.

  • I am expecting my second baby boy in January and I truly enjoy reading your blog. I read your reviews on baby products and I feel like I can trust your opinions and recommendations. Even though I don’t know you in person and probably never will, I truly appreciate this community that you have established. Thank you for sharing with all of us! πŸ™‚

  • Thank you for making me cry at the end of my workday! Seriously though, so much of what you always write is so true to me, but this one especially hit home. I only have 1 child, but those times I am able to escape to the kitchen and make food for the ones I love… I love it. I like the glass of wine that normally accompanies it as well πŸ™‚ That is my relaxing time. The chopping, stirring, and mixing is the way I relax.

    Your family and stories are beautiful. Thank you!

  • I have never had the privilege to birth a child, though I greatly wanted them. But your post resonates with all women, no matter what age, marital or child status. We are wired to be part of community, with other women, to support, encourage and help each other. Feeding people, no matter what the fare, feeds and nurutures our own spirits and I love this digital forum! Thank you for sharing. always brightens my day!

  • what Carol B. said – so beautifully.

  • My kids are 23,19, and 17. When they were small, my neighbors and I watched each others kids, made dinners when needed, sewed Halloween costumes together, provided shoulders to cry on, and so much more. My next door neighbor (whose child was grown) used come over at the crazy time (5PM) and feed my baby a bottle so I could have 2 hands free to fix dinner and deal with the other 2. Savor this time and get to know your neighbors! Your kids and dog are so precious. Thank you for the dose of cute every day.

  • Jessica, I love your blog, the pictures, the content – especially when not sponsored, your writing style, choice and use of words, and content. It’s a warm place to check in. I don’t have children, but have my 4 legged joys, and still enjoy it.

  • This is one of the most beautiful posts I’ve read online. Thank you. <3

  • I enjoyed this post and it resonated with me. I am Latina and a Mom. I was raised not only by my parents, but also my tias and abuelas. It such a beautiful thing to be able to count on others and help others.

  • Thank you for always making me smile. I love your blog and the way you write. My kids (now 14, 16 and 18) grew up in a tiny village in the Netherlands where everybody knew everyone, that is such a safe way to grow up. There was no bullying in school and all the kids played together. We took turns driving the kids to swimming lessons or various sports and when it was your turn to drive the other moms watched the other kid(s). But even in a larger town you can have that same feeling within your neighborhood. You can’t do it all alone and you’re lucky if you have others surrounding you… Family, friends, neighbours…

  • I am a new mom to a baby boy and the highlight of my day is reading your posts. You have such a gift for capturing the highs and lows of motherhood with eloquence, honesty and grace. I too have been longing lately that we lived in a time where women congregated during the day with one another and their kids to share space. Your blog has been that safe haven for me – I’ve found commonality and reassurance. Thank you so much for creating that kind of space for so many of us!

  • Thank you so much for sharing you and your families lives with us. We are all in this together, something that I think we forget in the rush of daily life. We are here to help each other and to allow others to help us, which is hard to do sometimes but feels oh so good when we do! Enjoy this beautiful day from across the bay in Carmel.

  • love this Jessica ❀️

  • Dear sweet Jessica, might I recommend the great practice of yoga and Aryuveda? Balance is critical during this season of transition. Many oms to your family.


  • Another wonderful post! I never tire of reading your blog. Thank you for taking the time to allow us to be a part of your family! It really does take a village…

  • Thank you for this post, it was very refreshing to read. I just had a baby and I live in Dubai, away from my family and sometimes I feel that I miss the family warmth. I always share pictures and stories with them and it makes us feel closer.
    I love reading your blog, it makes me realize that someone somewhere is going through the same every day experiences and it helps πŸ™‚

  • My kids are 20 and 16 but I never get tired of coming home at the end of the day and cooking for the family. I even spend most of my week planning the big family meal on Sunday that we invite members of our “village” here in Houston.
    I am lucky because I truly do have a village (sister, brother-IL, & close friends) who were there for me when I was a single mom working and when I went through medical school. I was blessed with marrying an amazing man in my 4th year of med school and getting to help raise his son too, but I could never have accomplished my goals without my village and my daughter is a product of everyone in my village and I as so proud of the woman she has become.
    If I could I’d ship you a big warm meal for your lovely family. Thanks for your posts.

  • OMG that picture of Evvie looking over your shoulder is the most precious thing I’ve ever seen. I agree we could all use more of a tribe in our lives. I’ts so important to have support in our friends and other mothers.

  • I absolutely love your photos and the way you share your life so transparently. im relocating with my husband and kids next month. I long for a tribe to join in my new city! But just knowing other moms are on this journey with me is so encouraging. πŸ™‚

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