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We passed around a baby last night at a dinner party. This kid was happy as a clam, unconcerned that his parents have been away for two weeks while a host of other humans care for him. The guy was a king with everyone mesmerized by his little bird mouth opening and closing for the food being shoveled in as he sat in a high chair plowing through his dinner. Ears craned against the party noise later on to see if that was the baby monitor squawking or the background music on the kid’s video games. The guy cooed and smiled and entertained us all while he rolled through his life full of willing faces.

This is not how any of my kids were raised. The extended family this guy was born into is huge and has arms outstretched to look after him. I’m even sort of in it. There were not so many clamoring hands outstretched towards my kids when they were growing up.

This is one of the great random happenings of life. Rich or poor, in city or country, or whatever the circumstance, you just might be born into a community of people who welcome children and support them, or you might not. You might be born into a place where nobody’s paying much attention. One of the things I’ve learn in life is that it is important to surround yourself with people who lift you up, whether that happens to you naturally or not.

It’s a choice. I used to adopt preschool teachers and kindergarten teachers, Sunday School teachers, neighbors, parents of my friends and any other willing participants into my world of folks who would lift me up and lift up my children with me. Well, actually, I still do this. I understand it is not something I missed out on so much as something I need to go get. My kids’ babysitter is in her thirties now, and just announced she’s having a baby. We will all be there, me and my husband and my kids, among the helping hands that pass around that baby and support him and help him grow in life. I simply owe that favor back to the world and certainly back to my babysitter.