By: Anonymous Columbus Mom
When you get home, take a long, hot bath with a glass of wine.” I’ve heard these suggestions before, self-care after a trying day of parenting. These well-meaning suggestions usually come from moms who have a support system; in-laws who pick their child up from school, a sister who hosts dinner weekly at her home and a grandmother who insists on a sleepover at least once a month. Date nights are a regular occurrence with numerous family members available to take your kiddo for an evening. Your vacation time isn’t wasted on school holidays and sick days because you have backup family to stay with your child. Now, don’t get me wrong, a hot bath can’t hurt, but it definitely isn’t a solution to my underlying problem, I’m missing my village.
I moved away from my family and the only home I ever knew to embark on a new journey. I saw a promising opportunity for growth that couldn’t be had in my hometown. When I left, I didn’t realize the toll it would take on my family dynamics and my own mental health. I took my son away from his cousins, some very close in age. We left his “Gawa” and “Ganpa.” My childhood friends, who have children the same age as me, partake in the traditional activities I did growing up, visiting the same playgrounds and spending their summer evenings at the local ice cream joint. I long for these moments, but more importantly, I long for the support. I’ve been in quite a few binds with needing someone to watch after my child when I have an appointment that runs late, or I come down with a crippling case of the flu. Trying to survive Type A influenza with a 3-year old climbing all over you is torture. The times I miss the support most is for my son.
We go to soccer games and many kids have both sets of grandparents cheering at the sidelines—every week. My son doesn’t have any adults in his life who volunteer to take him to build their relationship. I recall these tender moments growing up, my grandfather picking me up just to go “cruising.” I had an older cousin who would plan fun days away; she had nothing to gain but cultivating a long-lasting relationship with me. Since my son lacks these relationships, I feel the need to compensate with numerous fun adventures and putting in more time and creativity to keep my son engaged. I often receive compliments on my son’s busy agenda. Although the trips to Chuck-e-Cheese and picnics at the gardens can’t replace the times he asks to go to “Gawa’s” house, I know I’m doing my best. Don’t get me wrong, in the time I’ve been living here, I’ve made some friends who I can depend on for trade-off babysitting, but they can never replace having grandparents who will expose themselves to the flu so you can get some rest.
So, the next time you see a friend struggling to be everything for everyone, don’t suggest self-care, insist on some family support—take her child for a few hours, invite her family over for dinner, or execute a girls’ night out. She will appreciate your thought more than any hot bath or facial.