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