They say it takes a village to raise kids, but what if you don’t have a village?
My husband has been out of town this week. I feel like I don’t have a village or a partner. It’s just me, my job, our nanny and my kids.
To those of you who do it alone on a day-to-day basis- stay at home parents, those who have spouses “married” to their jobs, military spouses, single parents- I have so much respect for you. I don’t know how you do it every single day, physically and mentally.
As I am caring for the girls on my own this week, I realize how difficult it is to be 1+ hours away from my close friends and family. When I need a minute to collect myself, if I am running late getting home from work, or if I need the kids dropped off at school- it all falls on my nanny. I feel very lucky to have a nanny, I recognize this is not an option for most, but it doesn’t change the fact that I’m missing my village. I have to be considerate of her time and remember that the kids are her job, not her life. She didn’t choose to birth two kids, I did, and her job is to take care of the kids so I can continue my career.
When my husband is away I feel very vulnerable. I am always one bad day away from losing my mind. Before he leaves I’m confident that I can manage. I have a plan, I have our normal routine, I have our nanny. It takes one incident to ruin my confidence and realized how it is necessary for more than one person to help care for these girls.
The crazy part is, I cannot even put my finger on the things my husband does on a day to day basis. That statement is not intended to be mean because I do value him and, clearly, without him I’m drowning. But, when I start anticipating his departure my mind jumps immediately to “awesome less laundry and I can eat cereal for dinner every night”– but it turns out that he provides a stability in our home that is very much needed.
This week started out with a night in a hotel room with the girls- they didn’t go to bed until 1 am. The following days were relatively normal. I’ve been exhausted because I get no reprieve. I go to work, come home and take care of the girls- stay up late catching up on work/cleaning and then start the next day tired. Well it turns out by today (Wednesday…it’s only Wednesday) I’ve reached my breaking point.
Last night, S went to swim class and could not be contained. She walked into the pool and made her way into the deep end. I could not get her to join her class. Her teacher could not get her out of the deep end because she had other kids in class, I was dressed in work clothes so I couldn’t retrieve her, and the life guards were nothing less than useless. I eventually got into the pool and with each step I took toward S she went further into deeper water. After pleading to the life guards for help, their supervisor went in and retrieved S. We immediately went home- she was put straight into bed which led to her screaming, crying, throwing things, and coming out of her room 100 times- finally our nanny had to take care of it. I was done. I had reached my limit. I was in tears sitting at the dining room table wondering how I would manage to take care of these girls for another minute.
I called my husband, told him we wouldn’t be going back to swim. I told him what occurred and he said “that sounds like a bad day.” I wanted to kill him…a bad day? I’m sitting here in tears, that’s the understatement of a lifetime!
But 12 hours later I’m reflecting on my day, and my terrible mood, and I can’t help but wonder if it is all just mental stress. Was it really that bad? Was my husband really that rude?
I wonder if I had a village would yesterday’s events affect me differently? If I knew that when I was running a little late from work I could have one of my siblings watch the kids, if I were ill my mom could take S to dance, or if one of her cousins could help S with her school project, would I be less angry right now? Is my anger all stress related?
This week I’m on my own, and I feel like a failure. Two out of the three of us went to bed crying last night. During that time, I recognized that I do have a village, but my inhabitants are living at a distance. I texted and called two of my distant village dwellers and they helped me calm down. I realize that when they say it takes a village to raise kids, it doesn’t necessarily mean these people are physically helping. My village is spread out, and may not be able to give me much-needed “me” time, but they do give me advice, a place to cry and support so that I can turn around and face another day.
My girls may never know my village exists, but they are benefiting from it everyday. I am a better mom after a bad day because of those who care enough to lift me up when I am at my weakest. My village shares with me their bad mommy moments so I don’t feel alone, the tears they have cried, and sometimes they say nothing at all- just let me cry and vent. There is no judgement in my village, only compassion.
I may never get a massage, a quiet dinner, or get to start exercising again without paying a babysitter, but that’s okay. I have a village that loves me whether I’m crying or laughing. I’m thankful for my village, and my girls are, too. ❤