If you’ve spent any time on TikTok lately, you might have seen Maia Knight and her bright-eyed daughters, Scout and Violet, pop up on your For You Page. Maia is known for her dry sense of humor and her incredible arm strength, often holding both of her eight-month-old twins in one arm as she prepares bottles. But she’s also an example of someone who has created a modern motherhood “village” as she raises her children.

What is a village?

The concept of a village comes from the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” which means that everyone in the community - not just the child’s parents - contributes to a child’s upbringing. The aphorism rings true in diverse cultures throughout history and in some parts of the world today, but it is notably weak in modern American culture, especially in recent years. As our own Abby Jorgenson wrote, “Whatever semblance of a ‘child-raising village’ that American culture encouraged pre-pandemic was stripped down by COVID.”

Staying home with children, especially pre-verbal ones, can feel lonely and isolating. With the support of a village, parents can hand off the baby to a neighbor so they can take a break or focus on a task. They have someone to exchange a glance with in moments of annoyance or giggle with when their child says something hilarious. Daily tasks like feeding and changing babies aren’t as tedious if you can chat with a friend while you’re doing it.

But, with the exception of occasional playgroups, our world isn’t set up for this type of connection. Enter TikTok.

The TikTok village raising Violet and Scout

Maia sets up a camera as she makes bottles, chatting about how many times she was up with the babies last night and her plans for the day. She films her daughters’ sweet excitement upon seeing her after they first wake up. She squishes their faces for the camera, making her signature “goosh goosh” noises. And her followers go wild.

TikTokers joke in the comments that they check in on Scout and Violet more than their own families, and they feel like they are Maia’s co-parents. They shut down anyone who tries to mom-shame her, drowning out the unsolicited criticism with joking critiques like, “I can’t believe you’re still giving them bottles. Aren’t they old enough to make their own? They affirm her in her natural mothering ability and give her a network of friends to share her world with as a full-time mom.

This is not to say that social media is a replacement for real-life social support. Maia is open about the fact that she does not actually do it alone, but rather relies on a supportive village of friends and family. Her page features visits from aunties and uncles, and her parents frequently help out with childcare, allowing Maia to run errands, spend one-on-one time with the girls, and go out with friends from time to time. She is currently living off her savings so she can stay home with the girls. Her family also helps her out financially, and she frequently expresses how grateful she is for that support.

Everyone benefits from the village

It’s not just mothers like Maia who benefit from having a village - the village gains as much as it gives. Often, if we don’t have children in our close circles, our only exposure may be seeing a screaming child in a restaurant, causing many people to think, “I could never deal with that. I’m never having kids.” If our exposure to children is so limited, it’s no wonder why people are increasingly choosing not to have children.

Spending meaningful time with other people’s children allows non-parents to experience how delightful children can be: their faces lit up when their mom picks them up from grandma’s house, their rosy cheeks after their first sled ride, and their raucous laughter as they learn to interact with each other. Importantly, Maia seems to give a fairly unfiltered look into her life: a sink full of dishes, spitup on the crib sheets, and a mountain of laundry on the bed. But people keep coming back because it’s clear that the joys outweigh the struggles.

Maia is open about the fact that her road to motherhood was not an easy one. She had an unplanned pregnancy and her then-boyfriend told her to get an abortion. When she chose not to, he left her at seven weeks pregnant. She moved in with her parents and suffered from severe depression during the pregnancy before delivering the girls early due to pre-eclampsia. She is now raising them as a single mom. “I didn't make the decision [to raise them alone],” she explains, “he did.” Still, Maia has accepted the situation and maintains a sense of humor about it. (“I’m mom and dad,” says her TikTok bio.) She recalled how she gained confidence in herself as a mother: “I had two AMAZING little girls that are my best friends and realized I could do this. I had my friends and family to support me. All my dreams are coming true.”

While her daughters changed her life, Maia is still exceptionally normal. She posts ‘fit checks and her own versions of TikTok trends. She drinks White Claw, goes out with friends, and has even started dating again. She is in the process of getting her Master’s degree to become a high school chemistry teacher.

Seeing such a normal person thriving as a young mother is inspiring to her followers. One commenter wrote, “You are the only woman who has ever made me believe it’s actually possible to raise kids. Everyone else makes it look so daunting.” The comment clearly resonated with others, receiving over 10,000 likes.

A village that empowers women

Maia loves being a mom and says, “I’m so thankful because motherhood is the most empowering experience.” She recently posted a video to Emmy Meli’s “I AM WOMAN,” a trend where people post pictures of themselves feeling beautiful. She includes pictures that show her belly both pre- and post-pregnancy, action shots of her with her babies, and a video of the three of them dancing together, as affirmations cycle through the audio: “I am woman, I am fearless, I am sexy, I am divine, I am unbeatable, I am creative.” The video received over two million likes.

The popularity of Maia’s TikTok gives us insight into what pregnant women and mothers need to feel supported: a village. Be that village for a mother in your life. A village that helps her out, watching her kids to let her have a night out - or a nap. A village that shares in the joys and struggles of parenting with her. A village that offers support and solidarity through it all, in person or online, reminding her that no matter the circumstances of her pregnancy, she is woman - and she is unbeatable.

Mary Grace Cebrat

Culture Section Editor

Mary Grace Cebrat attended college at Washington University in St. Louis, where she studied religion and politics, with a special focus on 21st century Catholic feminism. She now works with K-12 students as an academic coach and is back in school to get her MSW. When she's not working, you can find her roadtripping across the Midwest with her newlywed husband, Tomek. Her other hobbies include playing New York Times word games, baking sweet treats, and looking at aspirational houses on Zillow.

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