It takes a village.
Say what you will about Hillary Clinton, she is right about this. It does take a village to raise a child. I think a large flaw in today’s society is the fact that we don’t raise children this way. Parents are largely left on their own to sink or swim, making life harder for them and their children and by extension, the whole society.
Many of us, me included, are fortunate to have helpful families and/or friends but some are not. And even us fortunate ones struggle to ask for or accept help, even if we know people who are willing to give it. I wish we could get to a point in society where we don’t have to ask for help. Where the village mentality is a given. You just jump in and do for each other what needs doing.
To get to that point, we of course need to let go of selfish tendancies and be willing to GIVE what others need. But even harder than that is to let go of pride and be willing to ACCEPT what we need.
This weekend, my two college roommates spend 24 hours with us. Us girls spent the day chatting while Mark went out to buy a mattress for Grace (she gave hers up to Connor when he got a new bed). Then Mark and I went on a date (Cork’s Irish Pub in St. Paul and candlelight skiing at Lebanon Hills in Eagan) while the girls, along with my sister, babysat. And as if that wasn’t wonderful enough, Gillian did laundry, helped Grace clean her room, washed the kitchen floor and some mirrors and windows. Mandy held the baby. It’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it.
On Sunday, my best friend from high school came over with her husband and three kids to visit, eat pizza and watch half the Superbowl. After we ate, she cleared the table, opened our dishwasher and started loading it, yelled at Mark when he got up to try to help, then handwashed what can’t go in the dishwasher. Her husband joked that she should save some of that ambition for their own house. Later, she gave Ellie a bath and lotioned her up.
I had no problem accepting help from these three as they are practically family to me. I also have no problem accepting help from my parents and sister and a close friend who makes a point to see me every week. But it is sometimes hard to ask for the help. I hate that I’m unable to fix anything in our house or cars and have to always be asking my dad for help. I know he’s glad to help (provided I thank him enough) but it’s still hard to ask.
Even harder is asking for help from people I don’t know as well. But as the kids get older and involved in more things, I think I’m going to need to learn to do this. Grace has a classmate whose mom has been very helpful to me since Ellie’s birth. She takes Grace to school or picks her up from school once a week. She babysat all three kids for a morning last week. I would love for her to take Grace to and from school every day but I feel that I can’t ask her to because I can’t reciprocate. She has two kids at Grace’s school and I can’t fit both of them in my car so giving rides to/from school is out. I could offer to babysit so she can run errands, etc., during the day but I doubt she needs that as she is already alone 5 hours a week during preschool.
I know it wasn’t long ago that she was in my place, with a baby and two older children and that she probably needed the help. And it won’t be terribly long before my kids are all in school and I’ll be able to offer help to someone. There is a season for everything and I guess I just need to accept that this is my season to accept help and (with some courage from Above) ask for it.