I am currently preparing for reasonably major surgery.
As the main caregiver for my 6 and 3-year-old children, this has turned out to be harder than I expected. You know that saying, “You don’t know what you’re missing until it’s gone?” That applies here but to myself. I didn’t know how much I did until I had to tell someone else how to do it. (I also have a part-time job outside the house, but that’s another matter)
First, I started to list all of the things I do in any given week for our family.
I do most dropoffs and pickups for two different schools Monday through Friday, make breakfast and lunch for a child, cook half of the dinners, do dishes, washing and putting away laundry for three of us, pick up 8000 things a day around the house, grocery shop, keep the family schedule (piano lessons, birthday parties, school activities, etc.), keep a kid doing homework and practicing piano most days, pay the bills….
At that point, I stopped making the list because it was getting too long and just compiling it was stressing me out.
Don’t get me wrong, my husband is very involved and hands on.
He likes to cook when he isn’t working, he takes our son to school in the mornings and makes him breakfast, and much more.
The problem is that I am the scheduler, the keeper of all the family knowledge.
The kids aren’t his main job, they are mine simply because I am home more and it’s what I’m good at.
When someone can’t find their shoes, they ask me. When someone needs lunch, I know what they like and will eat. And when someone wants to wear their favorite shirt, I can tell them that it is in the dryer and they can wear it tomorrow if they put their clothes away.
Right now I would ace a test on what my son should be practicing for piano and how soon my daughter will need something for show and tell.
Is this useful for the greater world? Not at all. But it is essential to keep our family running smoothly.
I am finding out that this is my value, the glue that holds our family together as my husband takes on the world at work mostly outside the home, and my kids continue to grow and learn new things at home.
Maybe this is all different if you have family permanently in town and they want to help out. We had no family nearby for the first 5 years of parenthood and now we have some in town for only parts of the year.
But without family in town, it takes a village. And boy do I have a great village.
Friends have stepped up to take turns watching my kids on surgery day so that my husband can be with me. Other friends have set up a meal schedule including my “liquids only” diet for a while. Yet more friends have already started giving us food and signing up to bring some over. And many others have messaged me their thoughts and prayers.
All of this goodwill is both amazing and humbling.
What competent person wants to ask for help? But sometimes we have no choice and the extra beauty in our friends is an incredible blessing.
So, Mommas, know that you are doing so much for your families and that no one can replace you. Maybe even two or three people couldn’t easily jump in and do all that you do.
And me? I’ll be over here trying to recover physically, but knowing that I am so loved and cared for.
And that is a beautiful thing.