3 min read
I grew up in an old-school Italian family where my grandparents lived with us, and our house was never without laughter, chaos, and most importantly, food! Growing up, my best friends were my cousins and I had plenty to choose from—we all fell around the same age and spent weekends having sleepovers, trading secrets, and becoming who were… side by side. This was the only reality I knew—a life full of people, bonds, and support.
However, as I grew up and became a citizen of the world, I realized that not everyone had what I had… a village, a community, a place where you belong. And, in that moment, I felt immense gratitude but also profound sadness. It’s not fair, I would think, as I watched a child eat lunch alone or see an elderly gent eating dinner without company at a restaurant. I wanted to swoop in and always fix it, but I didn’t know how to do anything about it at my young age.
Relationships, family, and children have always been important to me. I have always felt drawn to those dynamics and subject matter, as well as very curious on how you raise the next generation to become good, kind, tolerant, and empathic beings.
As a little girl, I would ask my mom to take me to the hospital to “have my baby.” And by that I meant: please take me to the toy store and buy me a baby doll! I would come home and make birth certificates for all my “children,” and as soon as I was allowed, I became a mother’s helper at age 12. From there, I became a babysitter and then ultimately a nanny of over 14 years. The connection I had with children made my heart flutter, and it taught me some of the greatest lessons I would ever learn in my lifetime.
As a nanny I had an inside look at what makes a family work (or not) and that led me to write my first book, Nanny and Me (2015). A children’s book that explains to children why they have a nanny or caretaker in their life. I felt we were doing children a disservice by not explaining this transition, as it affects over 65% of the United States! It was such a joy to connect to families and children with this book, and it was the catalyst to me building my platform as a childcare and village advocate.
For the past several years, I have accumulated over 500 media appearances discussing topics that affect children and families—from how to hire the right nanny to creating boundaries with grandparents and to building your village—I have explored it all and continue to have my finger on the pulse of family matters in the new millennium.
But something has always been tugging at me… a tug on my heart strings, a tug to my roots. We have all heard that phrase: “it takes a village to raise a child.” While I agree with the phrase, I find it to be too ambiguous and also exclusionary. Don’t we ALL deserve a village… whether or not we have children? The answer is a resounding YES! But where are the directions to the village? Well, it’s time someone gave those directions, and I decided that person was going to be me! That tug on my heartstrings turned into my book Build Your Village: A Guide to Finding Joy and Community in Every Stage of Life.
In BYV, you will meet six villagers that you will identify with and will help you decide who you need in your village, and who you are in other people’s village. This book serves as a step-by-step guide, complete with quizzes, gut-check questions, and action steps to help you discover the importance of support systems, as well as how to nurture them and find meaningful connections.
It is my hope that this book can help combat loneliness and give everyone a chance—no matter the family or environment they were born into or the life they choose—to find their people, to discover the family they choose, and build a life that comes with immeasurable love.
~ Florence Ann Romano
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