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What’s a Villager to do?

Note: This is a rant. And a plea for advice. So please bear with me and share your thoughts?

It-takes-a-village-quote-differentYou know how they say it takes a village to raise a child? I agree. I have a wonderful village helping out with my three kiddos. Between my in-laws and the supportive network of friends, my kids have opportunities to learn and grow that my husband and I never would be able to provide. We both work full-time and finding time to feed our children and provide clean clothes feels difficult enough, let alone all the extras.

Examples: The eldest son who’s active in martial arts. If it wasn’t for his friend’s mom, who’s ushered him to and from class more times than I could count, he wouldn’t be advancing at the rapid rate he is.

The daughter who’s in Girl Scouts. Twice a month, every month since school started, her friend’s mom takes her to and from troop meetings, troop adventures, and service projects. If it wasn’t for this mom, my daughter wouldn’t be a Girl Scout.

The youngest son who is learning how to swim. My mother-in-law takes him one-two times every week. I hear he’s doing really well. I just added an upcoming swim lesson to my schedule so I can leave work long enough to go and see him in action. If it wasn’t for my MIL, I don’t think the little guy would be learning how to swim yet.

I am so appreciative of the people who enable my children to participate in really cool activities. My kids are learning confidence, are getting socialized, and gaining fantastic skills. And to those folks who help so often, and so willingly, THANK YOU.

But I have to confess. I feel like a really shitty villager.

I’m all about fairness. I went out with my friends last weekend, so now it’s my husband’s turn. I spent $50 on my mom for Mother’s Day, so I’ll spend $50 on my mother-in-law. It’s just a hard-wired thing for me, but I feel best when things are equal and fair. I can’t lie in bed reading a book if I know my husband is vacuuming the house – it just isn’t fair. If he’s working, I should be too. This same thought pattern applies to my kids. You had my kid over for a play-date last month; now I invite your kid over this month.

tipped_scalesBut with three kids, working full-time, and the insanity of life, the fairness scale has tipped and completely crashed. I can’t keep up. To be transparent, the dear women who cart my kids to and from martial arts and Girl Scouts and swimming are stay-at-home-moms. They’re incredibly busy with being super moms, volunteering at the schools, and being amazing villagers; I don’t know how they do it all. And sure, I’ve had their kids over to hang out and to do special things…but we’re looking at 10 to 1 ratio here and I feel so damn guilty.

I can’t have their kids over every weekend to help even out the scale and make things fairer. Weekends are when I do stuff like laundry, grocery shop, or – gasp! – spend time with my kids. So what do I do? How do I become a better villager? I’ve thought about writing thank-you cards and including gift certificates. I’ve thought about offering money, but that feels oddly demeaning, like I’m paying them for their services. I don’t want to refuse their offers to help over my pride and “fairness factor”; then my kids are the ones that would suffer. One friend said that my villagers wouldn’t offer to help if they didn’t want to.  I hope that’s true, but I can’t stop this nagging feeling that I’m using them.

Does anyone else feel this way? How are you handling being a villager? Are any of you the giving SAHM that can share thoughts on how I could thank you and equal out the scales a bit? I’d love your insights and suggestions.



About Fayth Ross

Fayth Ross
Fayth moved from a no-stoplight town in rural Utah to Reno in 2006. She’s happily married with three kids ages 11, 6, and 2. Fayth is a Director of Development for a Reno-based non-profit. When she’s not working, doing endless amounts of laundry, or helping with homework, Fayth loves her Keurig, reading, pedicures, baths without children, naps, Mommy juice, and dancing to 80’s music while cooking. Fayth embraced life in the biggest little city and, despite the multiple stoplights on her daily commute to work, loves living in Reno.


  1. This comment is coming directly from your villager. Please do not feel guilty, do not worry about “the scales” – and if you hand me money…I’ll kick your butt! 😉 Here is the thing with villagers as your friend pointed out… no one (especially these days) does anything for anyone unless they truly just want to do it.
    I think all SAHM’s will agree, working moms ARE the super moms. I don’t know how YOU do it. I get five days to do laundry, go to the store, shop for my family, clean my house, etc. You get (generally speaking) 2 days. SAHM’s don’t worry about “time on the weekends” because we can juggle and shift around what we need to do during the week, so our weekends are just what we want them to be. This also holds true with everything we do during the week as well; we juggle and shift around what we need to so that our time to do things for our kids (like play dates, letting kids play at park after school, sports stuff and fun stuff) can happen. Unfortunately working moms, you don’t have this luxury. You can’t juggle and shift because of your responsibilities at work, because the laundry still needs to get done (sometimes at three a.m.), because dinner needs to be prepared, homework needs to be completed, etc.
    SAHM’s are so aware of how hard it is for the working moms. So I think we are always the ones to jump in and say – we can do that, because we know the guilt that you feel…. We all worked at some point in our lives and we can all relate to those feelings.
    But the most important point that you need to remember is this: when I pick up your child for martial arts, to hang out for the day, whatever it might be, it means mine will get to hang out with his best friend before class, during class, after class, for the day, etc. This makes my kiddo very happy, which makes me happy plus your child is happy ….. This is a win / win for everyone!! It’s the one thing to keep in mind when the guilt starts to form… when I say – I can do it – I’m doing it for MY kid, not yours… get it… the reality is, I’m using your kid to make my kid happy!! See, my kid gets to have the enjoyment of having a buddy with him, so I’m not thinking of it as a chore, or one more thing that I did for you, I’m looking at two happy faces in my backseat! So please never worry about fairness, equality, and how you can be a better villager. At the end of each day, we (working moms and SAHM) are all just wanting the same thing…. happy kids. So when a friend says, I can do it…. Let them….

    • Oh Tasha, thank you so much. I love your response and am so grateful. I know what you mean: it is easier when you know your kids are happy and having fun. And thank you re: your comments on working moms…it is hard and you can relate because like you said, you’ve been there. Thank you, again. I am so lucky and appreciative to have you as a villager. 🙂

  2. I only feel taken advantage of when it becomes expected and unappreciated. Sometimes just knowing that if I was in a bind you would make some accommodations to help even if it was a 10:1 ratio keeps it okay. I have helped people out and known it was their concern and they were extra careful and cautious about it and I didn’t mind. Then there are others that I have helped and there hasn’t been any flexibility on returning any kind of favor ever. I totally know it’s hard to be flexible – my schedule is like that, but nothing ever works for them to help with anything. It requires sacrifice on one end it is okay if you make a sacrifice once in a while on your end. I have a friend that works full time and once in a while her daughter comes to my house after school. I am not a babysitter, but when she’s in a bind I don’t mind if her daughter comes to my house after school. While she can’t return this favor for me (and doesn’t need to) she does take care of my dog if we go out of town and leave her. I know she’s tired and it’s just once in a while that she has to do it like once a year, but she’s always willing. So it’s probably a lopsided help but I know she’s available and I know she would help me if I needed it and that’s enough for me.

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