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It Really Does Take a Village

By Jeana Lee Tahnk

Raising kids is hard work. Actually, it's really hard work.

When my husband and I found out we were expecting for the first time, immediately we started thinking, We should move closer to our families. Itwas the best decision we ever made. Initially and admittedly, we did itto have those over-eager babysitters in place, but since that time, ithas evolved into so much more than that. Being close to our families hasbeen one of the biggest joys in our lives, and in our kids' lives aswell.

I grew up with little to no extended family around. We would get theoccasional visitor from overseas every couple of years, and mygrandmother would visit annually to keep her Green Card active, butaside from that, our holidays primarily consisted of the four members ofmy family. I was envious of my friends who had the big, raucous holidaycelebrations and family gatherings. Our quiet Thanksgiving foursome,while lovely, seemed so muted in comparison.

Fast forward to today, with our three kids, grandparents, cousins,aunts and uncles around, and I now relish every family gathering, everybig sports game we convene at and every birthday celebration. Not onlydo I feel so lucky to have such a strong support system around, but I'malso so thankful for the relationships my kids have with theirgrandparents and extended family. That's something I never had thepleasure of experiencing myself.

And I'm not going to lie-the help is wonderful, too. My parents havebeen the only way that my husband and I have been able to sneak away forthe celebratory night away or mini adult vacations. Three days ofkid-free time? Thank you, Grandparents! Taking the kids to see thatanimated Pixar movie for the fourth time? Thank you, Auntie!

Between family and the wonderful friends we have, many of whom we have met because ofour kids, I've come to realize how important it is to have a supportsystem in place. Having people to rely on, vent to, ask questions to andexperience all the joys of having kids with makes a really difficultjob so much easier.

And the adult-only nights away every blue moon certainly don't hurt, either.

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