Finding Support

Sometimes I wonder how my own mother did this. Or my grandmothers. You don’t often hear stories about exhaustion, meltdowns, the frustration of never knowing what to do. Did they experience these things, too? (If they did, they’re not telling … or maybe they’ve conveniently forgotten….) Or am I missing something?

Well, I think there is something I’m missing: a community of support.

They didn’t just live in nuclear families; they lived in extended families. They all had parents and siblings close-by. In other words, they had help. You know the saying… it takes a village. (Harvey Karp talks about this particular issue in his book The Happiest Toddler on the Block, pp. 24-26.)

My parents live in Florida. They try to visit often. But as much as they love visiting their “baby grands,” they also have full, stimulating lives in their gulf coast town. So they’re not always available to fly up to Philly at the drop of a hat. My husband’s parents live in the Netherlands – even further away! Despite being an ocean away, they make a remarkable effort to visit three times a year.

I love when our parents visit. Not only is it fun to see them interact with Aleksander, but I can actually get things done that have been lingering on a dust-covered to-do list.

However, a visit is not at all the same as having family live nearby. I sometimes find myself getting jealous of my friends who live close to their families. How great would it be to have built-in babysitters? (Okay, that can come with drawbacks, too. Like when you don’t approve of how your mother-in-law is taking care of your little one! But I think that’s another topic….)

My husband is a true prince and takes wonderful care of Aleksander when he’s home. But of course, he goes off to work every day. He also travels a lot for his work, so I sometimes have Aleksander 24/7 for a whole week. When PER is gone, I don’t get anything else done. It’s all I can do to care for Aleksander. I even go to bed right after he does. And I’m wrecked by the end of the week.

As much as I love being a full-time mother, I also know how important it is to have support and to sometimes get a break. I simply can’t do it alone. So what do I do when there is no built-in support?

I could call on my friends to help me out. But they all have babies around the same age as Aleksander. Maybe when they’re older, we can trade afternoons of child-care, but these little guys are a handful all on their own for now. So for now, I just look forward to our weekly playdates when I get to have some adult conversation and chat about what our boys are up to. It is such a big help to be able to talk about our issues with the boys, get new ideas, and compare and contrast them (not in a “my-son-is-better-than-yours” way, but in a way that assures us that they’re all unique individuals who are doing just fine). As much as I love our Boys’ Club meetings, they still don’t give me the break I need.

So I go on to Plan B…  That’s “B” as in babysitter. I’m collecting a list.

Aleksander has had a few different sitters since he was about 2 months old. But I never seem to have more than one or two on my list at a time, and they are busy with other families or other jobs or school, etc. It makes it difficult to get the help I need when I need it. It’s even hard to do something as simple as getting my hair cut! So I’m getting proactive. We’ve belonged to Sitter City for almost a year now, but I haven’t had much luck at finding sitters through their website. With our subscription about to run out in mid-January, I decided to take one last crack at it. And I’m getting a tremendous response! Almost 20 women have responded to my post. This week alone, I’m interviewing three college women. And I have the contacts of a few more to call on if I need them. That makes for a pretty solid list!

And that means I should be able to go to that weekly yoga class I mentioned earlier. And with PER’s upcoming travels, I’ll be able to get some real help. I can feel the relief of it already! It may not be a village, but it’ll work for me!

Question: Where do you find the support you need?

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gretchen
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 09:02:59

    ah Kate, I could have written this! I totally feel you on the “no family nearby” Oh, how I would love to be able to have my mom run over one afternoon to watch the boys or have my Dad watch the boys on a Sat morning so I could just get something done. Bryan helps out a ton so I am lucky in that way, but it is not the same b/c he needs a break too. Or heaven forbid if there is an emergency, seriously, I don’t know who we’d call. Many of our friends have moved away and it is so freakin’ hard to meet people. Count yourself lucky you’ve been able to keep up with the ladies you met in prenatal yoga, what a great thing:)

    I DO have a 1 hour window between when I leave work at 4:15 and when I need to pick up Matthew so I am often able to squeeze something in, like running to the store or something. But nothing really concrete.

    Wish I had better advice to offer, but I do commiserate with you:) I believe too that it really does take a village and mine is feeling pretty darn small at the moment:)

    Reply

    • KateR
      Jan 06, 2011 @ 10:19:05

      Thanks for writing, Gretchen! My first official comment (other than my mom – does she count?)
      I’m sorry to hear you’re in the same boat. I wish I had better advice to offer, too. After all, it’s great that I have these sitters, but it also costs money! So it isn’t the ideal solution. And like you said, what do you do in an emergency?
      As for meeting people, I always hoped that would get easier as my kids started going to school. Is this not the case? Maybe as they get a little older? Otherwise, the only thing I can think of to meet new people is to join something. But do you have time for that?? Tricky! Maybe we need to create some kind of e-Harmony for making friends as adults. Surely someone has thought of this already?!
      Hang in there!

      Reply

  2. Anika
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 11:45:11

    Kate,

    I so enjoy reading your entries!! And I can’t wait to read more. I think you captured the ups and downs of motherhood perfectly, and I’m so happy that I’ll get to share this special time with you! Keep on writing!

    Reply

    • KateR
      Jan 06, 2011 @ 18:41:04

      Thanks so much for reading and for commenting, Anika! I’m glad you’re enjoying it. And I, too, and so grateful to go on this crazy, magical journey of motherhood with you!

      Reply

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