We’ve all heard the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child,” right? You’ve probably even heard me champion in favor of bringing back the village. Lets face it: “Judgement Culture” is the ~thing~ nowadays. Its soooo much more entertaining, fun, easy, and profitable for your social media algorithm to just film and post a kid freaking out. I’ll always say it: I’m INCREDIBLY lucky that Nicholas doesn’t melt down like most kids on the spectrum. Its still not easy by any stretch, to raise a kid who literally doesn’t understand. He’s got the attitude, size, energy, and issues that a regular five year old has, but lacks the understanding and awareness. Just yesterday, while I was messaging with a classmate about our upcoming test and we were sharing notes via text, he managed to roll his stroller into traffic while I was just out of sight. I know, any kid can get into major trouble in the two seconds a parent looks away – but not every kid will get the eye-rolling-why-doesn’t-she-spank-him judgement that comes along with his bloopers.
Lately, with school, and just general exhaustion with life, I’ve been feeling like the village idiot, though. We want this group of friends who can rely on each other but can’t find it! Most moms in my age group talk about wanting the village. But our schedules are jam-packed. We live too far apart. We’re terrified that we will get taken advantage of by “that mom” who always dumps her a-hole kids but never returns the favor. Our parents aren’t able or willing or local to help shoulder some burden, or “they already raised their kids” and aren’t interesting in contributing again. Our schedule is so crappy with work or school that we’d always be leaving our kids with someone and never able to return the favor. Or we don’t know anyone we trust. Or we are so burnt out, we threaten to leave our kid on the side of the road with a hitch hiker, and still, no one is capable or wants to handle our kids for a few hours. Or maybe the only people able to help, do, and you’re tired of feeling so guilty for even asking anymore.
Either way, this sucks, doesn’t it? And as a really single parent, I don’t get a weekend off. I’m not talking about the married women who manage kids “alone” but have their spouse’s income and occasional physical presence. And if that offends you, get divorced and continue that life without your ex supporting you in any way, and then lets talk again, mmmkay? Its. Not. The. Same. and I will not even entertain the discussion. I’m even jealous of moms who get every other weekend child-free, honestly. Embrace it and enjoy it. I’d kill to know I can regularly send my kid someplace safe, and I don’t have to feel guilty for asking!
Its been a wild few weeks – these short semesters are not for the faint-hearted! Six intense weeks, and my brilliant a$$ decides to take science classes that include labs! So during this short break between semesters, I wanted to take some time to address these topics that have been eating me alive, having returned to school for the first time in nearly a decade.
This time around, I’m not just a mother, but a single mother with limited help. That’s not to say my mom and friends haven’t pitched in when I’ve been desperate. But can we be real for a second here: through the KEYS program, based on my income, we are eligible for at least a portion of daycare (if not all of it) covered; as of 8 weeks into my search, I am still unable to find anywhere that has space or can “accommodate” him. Let me rephrase: thanks to the somewhat hard-to-qualify-for government program for people who are actively working towards a stable, welfare-free income, we are eligible for PAID childcare, but there isn’t anywhere I’m able to send him.
Guys, if this ain’t the “rub,” I don’t know what is. Life is always a series of roadblocks, isn’t it? This just particularly twisted my niblets though, because there’s such an intense disconnect between the need for an education and the ability to obtain it. Its just like the “you need experience to gain experience” dilemma. I need childcare to be successful in school, but there aren’t any aides available till the end of August. He starts full-day kindergarten the last week of August!! Any student will tell you, being interrupted every 3.2 minutes is not conducive to learning or retaining a darn thing. Now, on top of being interrupted more times than is humanly imaginable, pile on constant noise, movement, frustration, and the extreme desire to be somewhere else (me too kid, me too). Its absolute insanity. I get two, 4-hour blocks each week for my truly “child-free” time. I mean, its spent in a classroom and occasionally I’d swing by the grocery store if class let out a little early…. if we are really considering that to be a huge boon to my education.
I’m not bringing all this up to make anyone feel guilty (although, if the shoe fits, lace that bad boy up). We do an absolutely horrific job of supporting each other, particularly mothers and fathers who shoulder more than 50% of the parenting burden, and then rub each other’s nose in the fallout. Rally around each other. Contribute however you can when someone is struggling. We’ve been trained to be stingy when we feel desperate and in need; instead, I propose we start giving more. Find little ways to help someone out, even if its only making them feel a little better about themselves.
Something I read the other day that spoke to me: when we are not getting what we want or not getting it fast enough, we need to start contributing more. Sprinkle compliments like the rain that won’t stop falling. Write someone a thank you note. Leave a genuine compliment on someone’s facebook post or their selfie, because you know they took 50 and deleted 49.
Sometimes, all we need is the sensation that someone is looking out for us, and we are all capable of providing that without breaking a single promise.
Have a sparkly Independence day, friends! ~ Jess