Christi Braschler ponders the challenges of having kids without the support of extended family to help.
It takes a village right? That’s what we hear about raising kids.
But what happens when you don’t have a village?
Because not everyone does.
I once had a hairstylist make me feel bad for having to change appointments last minute. I actually gave her a week’s notice, so it wasn’t like 15 minutes before my appointment, but it wasn’t as advanced as two months' notice. I explained that my sitter fell through and I could either bring all four of my kids, or reschedule. She told me her salon space was too small for more than two people, so I had little choice left but to reschedule. She was so upset, she told me that I could only make an appointment the same day from now on.
So I canceled completely.
I understood her frustration, but I don’t know that she fully understood my position because she didn’t have kids.
Yes, I went there.
It’s hard having kids without the support of family to help. I can’t just call someone and have them zip over at the drop of a hat. Her response hit a chord with me because I do the best I can with what I have and often people don’t understand that. It’s not easy having to coordinate a dentist appointment around Grandma and Grandpa’s visit in four months with approximate dates.
Here’s the scoop: we don’t all come from a village. Many of us have to make our own village, and that takes time.
- Not all moms have family who live close by.
- Not all moms have family close by that they want watching their kids.
- Not all moms have good enough ties with family to ask for help even if they did live close by.
- Not all moms have family who will actually help.
- Not all moms have loving, nurturing parents who want to help.
And you know what?
It kind of stinks.
I’ve been on the envy-end of having no help and wishing I had someone, anyone, just to go and get my teeth cleaned or even grab a gallon of milk without hauling multiple tiny tots in the store when it’s snowing. You don’t know stress until you have a busy 2-year-old that has to accompany you to the dentist and you can’t jump up and grab him as he’s reaching for a drill in the next chair. With his foot.
Of course, I’ve also grown past this with the years I’ve been a mom because it just becomes how life is for you.
- You learn to rely on yourself
- You learn to trust yourself
- You teach yourself
- You do the best you can with what you have
There’s a lot to be said in that.
There’s a lot for your children to learn from that.
For us, it’s just become the season of life we are in. The one we chose to be in when we decided to relocate someplace new. The one we chose to be in when we said yes to each child.
Without external help, we rely on each other and we do more together. My older children learn more about the responsibility of helping, even if it’s just helping themselves. Anniversary dinners often have to include the whole family—which really isn’t such a bad thing.
You learn a lot about yourself when you’re the only one there is to rely on.
You learn a lot about your spouse when they’re the only one who actually can help you.
You learn a lot about each other as you navigate the world of parenting uninterrupted and without disruption.
And ... that’s a village.
Eventually, I found friends that I had things in common with through my kids going to school and through their friends. Occasionally, we are there to help each other and while I now have the emotional support of close friends who experience the same challenges that I do, it’s still mostly up to me and my husband to keep things rolling as usual. We now have emergency pickup people but those people don’t babysit our kids, they don’t coordinate their activities and they don’t come over when we get sick. But, they’re there to support us and just knowing that, well that’s a village too.
Eventually, I found someone else to cut my hair, a mom with all adult children. I’m happy to say she’s happy to reschedule if I need it, but she is also welcoming and encourages my littles to come with me so that I don’t have to put it off. Maybe I don’t know her as well as my best friends, but that doesn’t make her any less a part of the village I’ve created.
So, moms in the throes of feeling lonely and alone without help, hang in there. Your village is already beginning with your own family. Embrace it. When it gets hard, take a breath and remember that some of us have to make our own village and that takes time. Be patient with yourself and when you finally do get to that dental cleaning, make sure you warn the hygienist about your 2-year-old in advance.
That’s a village, too.
Copyright 2022 Christi Braschler
Images: Canva Pro
About the Author
Christi Braschler is a wife and mom. She was also a lifelong member of the Catholic In Name Only Club until a few years ago when she realized the Practicing Catholic Club had better t-shirts. When she's not folding ridiculous piles of laundry, or roaming the house in search of single socks, she's writing, learning about her faith one misstep at a time, and probably burning dinner. You can follow more from her on her blog: Francis and Squeak.