By Wanda Curtis
Special to The Weekly
It’s been said that, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Dedham resident Cheryl Morrill found that to be true as a young teenage mother raising three children. Her sons Zackary, David and Gregg are now in their 30’s.
“I was the only girl in a household of boys,” said Morrill. “Even our cat was a male.”
She said that because she and her husband, David, were both very young when they were raising their family, they didn’t know everything there was to know about raising children. So they relied on family members and friends for help.
“My sister-in-law — who was the same age as me — helped a lot,” Morrill said. “When I wasn’t feeling well, she helped me take care of the boys. She physically helped us to raise them. To this day, if the boys need someone to talk with, they still go to her.”
Morrill’s mother lived on the West Coast but offered her 24-hour a day telephone support.
“She was the person that I could call and say, ‘Why is this child screaming 24-7, I need help!’” Morrill said. “My mother is a seamstress. So she also helped by making clothing and blankets and things of that sort.”
Now that Morrill’s sons are grown, their grandmother still stays in touch with
them and their children — her great-grandchildren.
“She stays involved by Skype and phone,” Morrill said. “She also comes to visit for a few weeks at a time.”
Morrill has fond memories of her own grandmother who played a big role in her life growing up. She thinks it’s important to nurture relationships between grandparents and grandchildren.
“My grandmother lived behind us,” said Morrill. “There was a pathway behind our house and hers. I walked that pathway many times going to visit her.”
Morrill has two grandchildren of her own, both of whom she adores.
“My grandaughter Mara is 10 years old and my grandson Chase is 6 years old,” Morrill said. “Chase’s mother has to work and my son travels with his job. So I’m glad that we’re here to get him off the school bus each day. I often fix his mother dinner when she gets home.”
Morrill is glad that both sets of Chase’s grandparents live nearby so that they can help to take care of him.
“We’re raising him together,” she said. “We’re a village raising our grandchildren.”
Morrill recalls that when her children were growing up in Orrington, she was part of a group of four or five mothers who raised their children together. The mothers shared responsibility for watching after the children.
“They [the children] went to school and Sunday School together and they played sports together,” Morrill said. “If one of the mothers got stuck in town, then one of us would go get that child off the bus. I heard one of the boys say , one day, that if he did something wrong, he knew he better get it right before he left school because all of those mothers would know about it before he got home. No matter whose house they got off the bus at, they would get talked to about right and wrong. All of us praised them, too, if they did something great.”
Morrill encourages mothers today to reach out to others for help if they feel alone.
“I don’t know how I could have done it without all of the different people,” Morrill said. “I couldn’t have done it by myself.”
Morrill also urges mothers to spend as much time with their children as they can while their children are young.
“Life goes by in a moment,” she said. “Some of my boys’ fondest memories are of Sunday afternoon family times. I would make a roast chicken with all the fixings. Then they would watch a football game and at halftime we would go outdoors and we’d all play touch football together. I’m glad that I was young enough to do that with them. There are benefits to being a young mother.”