Friday, January 14, 2011

Put Me On That Casserole Train.

Wow, Friday already and I've only written here twice this week? Sorry about that. Let me tell you, there's nothing like coming off a week of illness only to run smack into school volunteering, an unexpected trip to the pediatrician for the pinkeye you gave to your child, and two days of said child staying home from school sick to make you realize there just aren't enough hours in the day. Because how are you supposed to get the paid work done that you normally do during the few hours both children are in school, if you're otherwise occupied dealing with child illnesses and unexpected doctor visits during the time the children are normally in school?

Yeah, not so much.

So let's talk for a minute (yet again) about not having a back-up, a safety net so to speak, a village. Most of you know, because I gripe about it ALL THE TIME, that I do not have any local or nearby extended family available to step in and give me a hand when, five minutes before the school bus comes for child #1, thus freeing me to go to nursery school with child #2 as her Special Visitor for the annual Visitors' Day, child #1 begins to cry over her cold and her (continued) pinkeye and says her stomach hurts. And so I am forced to bid goodbye to my fellow bus-stop mom friends, take both children by the hand, turn around, and walk back home to call child #1 in sick from school, with child #2 quite understandably sobbing heartbrokenly because now she will not have a Special Visitor for Visitors' Day. Because Daddy is at work, Mama has to stay home with sick big sister, and there is no one else available.

Listen, I realize there are families all over the country who don't live near extended family. I realize plenty of current grandparents raised their now-adult children back in the day, with no help either, and they just sucked it up and did it. I get that. I do.

But it seems to be a unique characteristic of my lovely small college town that there are tons of families here with local extended family. What, does everyone love this town so much that they grow up here and stay? And thus, when they have children, their parents and in-laws are a mile away to help out? I don't know. I just know that an awful lot of moms I know have parents, in-laws, or siblings in town, next door, or a short drive away. Sometimes all three. It's very different from the city, where we used to live. There, pretty much no one had grandparents nearby. Everyone had relocated to the city after college, or for graduate school, or for jobs.

And no, we can't just move. There is nothing for us up north, where grandparents and siblings live. There are no jobs for my husband, the schools are worse, the weather is (even) harsher. It's not known for its fantastic family resources, like our town is. We'd never sell our house in this market. Plus, we looooooove our town. LOVE IT.

But this is the deal: This week, amidst my own virus recovery (read: scrambling to re-stabilize my dirty house and empty pantry and long list of professional writing I had not gotten done the week before when I was sick in bed) and two sick children and a sudden trip to the pediatrician first thing one morning (always fun!) and nursery school Visitor's Day, I was on tap to cook and deliver dinner to a family in town who recently had newborn twins. I didn't get it done early like I'd planned because I had a sick kid on Wednesday and could not get to the grocery store, so I ended up running around on Thursday with Genevieve in tow, shopping and chopping and cooking and delivering, around Julia's school schedule and my own other obligations. And don't get me wrong--I was happy to do it, truly--love you, Tricia!--and those babies are angels and this family is wonderful and I was more than willing to help out a friend with two new babes--voluntarily signed up to help, in fact. But I hope the irony is not escaping any of you, that I need someone to deliver ME a freaking casserole!


Coming soon: My girl-crush on Gwyneth Paltrow, and how I justify it.


Angel said...

Oh my gosh. You 3 looked so sad walking home this morning. :( What a bummer to get all the way out there and have to go home with 2 crying girls! Hope you were able to salvage the day and have a better afternoon. We have no plans today, so holler if you need anything!

Mnmom said...

Interesting. When I was a SAHM here none of my friends had family around. So I didn't feel left out. I remember putting John on a plane for NYC one afternoon, then getting deathly ill with pneumonia by 4pm. The kids were 2,7 and 7. I plugged in a movie, then crawled in bed with the walkie-talkie. I told them if Mommy quits making sense to call one of my friends.

Shannon said...

A LOT of my fellow moms in my particular preschool/early-Sibley cohort have family in town (or within, say, a 30 or 40 minute drive). I know those who don't, of course too, including my closest friend, but it seems like more do than don't.

Shannon said...

Oh--and get this: The past few weeks my closest friend and her family have had as many illnesses and emergencies as I have, so she's not available to bail me out, and the friend for whom I delivered dinner has in-laws in town who help tremendously. (Again: HAPPY TO HELP. But wish I had that kind of support.)

Heidi Mann said...

Be thankful for the support you DO have, Shannon. Some parents don't have family OR friends nearby. Some have jobs they would LOSE if they got in a personal-illness/sick-child string of days. Some have special-needs kids that add a whole OTHER aspect to the mix.

And I would think, if you explained the situation to G's teacher, that she could likely have her OWN Special Visitor someday next week to make up for the fact that you couldn't attend yesterday. I know you have supportive teachers, too -- yet another thing to be grateful for.

No need to reply; I know you won't appreciate my sisterly advice. But we ALL have days like that which are frustrating for multiple reasons. I bet you'd find that, very often, your mom-friends have to rearrange their plans for lack of immediate back-up, too. (SH)It happens. And it's usually the mom (regardless of professional circumstances) who has to suck it up.

Shannon said...

Yep--we all have days like that. I'm just telling it like it is! And as every overworked, under-helped full-time stay-at-home mom knows, you can truly hate the fact that you have no extended family support AND be grateful for other things, all at the same time.

Mom said...

Well, this gramma wishes she could be closer at such times but it isn't possible. If it were, you can be quite sure I would have left the germs at your house and gone to be the Preschool Special Visitor!

Rita said...

Between my neighbors (OMG I love my neighbors!) and my mother, I am almost never completely without options if I get in a major bind.

And thank you for reminding me how truly lucky I am.

Also? In reference to your comments about my hair - I *do* have good hair, but I have really, REALLY fat thighs. God *had* to give me good hair to make up for the thighs.

Anne said...

As one of those in your town with no extended family around, I can so empathize. We have a lot of good close friends here, this is a great community, and I sure appreciate all the meals friends and neighbors delivered to me when I was sick while pregnant. But like me, they're all overworked, many of them stay-at-home moms and you can only ask for so much.

Now that we're both scrambling to find jobs seeing we're running out of $ I'm both fretting about not getting a job AND getting a job, because what will we do with Lilly? It'd be SO nice to have family around to ask for help with child care.