I grew up in a small town in Northern Illinois. There, my parents and their friends basically had what I lovingly refer to as an “Irish Economy.” Basically, it’s the village concept. Everyone pitches in however they can, money never changes hands, and amazingly, everyone’s needs are met.
My best friend’s parents and mine swapped us back and forth. When my parents built me a bedroom in the basement, another neighbor/friend who happened to be an electrician wired the space for us. In return, my dad provided grunt labor on one of his job sites. The list goes on, but you get the idea.
I’ve always been an independent person. I like being self-reliant.
But now that I have kids, the truth is that I just need help. Help that I don’t have.
I do have friends here, but they are all fortunate enough to have a ton of family in the area. I feel awkward and awful asking for a favor I know they’ll never ask me to repay. My kids don’t have grandparents in the area fighting over time with them. If I want a date night, I need to hire a sitter. Sitters are getting expensive these days, so I rarely allow myself to get one. As a result, I’m scrambling to find sitters because they (understandably) want a more consistent gig.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I feel like the responsibility of raising my kids is entirely on me.
If someone is sick, I can’t take just that one kid to the doctor. If I am sick, I still need to parent. When I need an hour to go to therapy, I end up hiring a sitter. That comes out of the date night fund.
That’s not to say I’m entirely without help. If things are ever truly awful, I know I have backup. My parents would come to town for a week or two and my friends would pitch in.
I have so much guilt about asking for help, however, that I won’t do it unless I’m desperate. I mean, I am the one who chose to have these children. My children are no one else’s responsibility.
So I guess I need to hire a village.
That, or find an existing one that is in need of my skill set. I’m a former high school math and special education teacher willing to trade tutoring, babysitting, and a boatload of barbecue (my husband loves his smoker) for an occasional break. Know anyone looking?