They say it takes a village, but I’ve found this to be one of the few parenting quotes that isn’t true for many parents today, myself included.
I snapped this photo yesterday, my son’s second day home from daycare. My laptop was to my right, too many tabs open, too many unanswered emails, too many reminders for meetings I knew I’d be late for or attend distracted.
On a normal week, my husband and I are just managing. It’s a delicate balance with both of us working now that we have William, but we are doing okay. The days when I manage to feel a semblance of balance feel like such a triumph. But if one thing gets out of whack, it’s hard to recover. This week Ian was traveling, so the balance was already off. Tuesday night he was up on and off all night – rare for him – and it went downhill from there. He was sent home from daycare with a cough Thursday and stayed home Friday, barely sleeping each night.
The question I kept asking myself this week was how, if it takes a village to raise children in normal circumstances, are we supposed to manage when we’re available for work 24/7, when we don’t live close to family, and when there’s still a pandemic raging? I was alone and had to just muddle through the week. I wanted it to be like the movies, when the lead in the romantic comedy has friends who are able to drop everything to come to her rescue. To pour a glass of wine while her son splashes in the bath. To make sure she’s eating while working long hours. In reality, the majority of my friends are trying to strike the same balance we are each week, and dealing with sick kids of their own much of the time.
I have a text thread with my close college girlfriends, the content of which has shifted since we all became moms, and another with two coworkers who live across the country but have kids close to William’s age. I have a Slack channel with the moms I met in baby group moms and dozens of Instagram DMs with moms I know from various stages in my life. We all share the same struggles.
Ian arrived home Friday evening and last night William finally slept through the night and woke up without a cough. It was such a relief but I still feel battered and bruised from the week. My eyes hurt from so much time spent working in darkness, just the glow from my laptop lighting the room as my stomach growled, reminding me I hadn’t yet eaten dinner. One night I held William’s hand through the crib slats until he fell asleep and my shoulder is still sore.
I know even just weeks from now all I will remember is his sweet voice asking to hold my hand, the weight of him in my lap during a work call, and maybe even the pride in managing it all. I also know I’ll still be waiting for that village to turn up.