(for part 1)
"It takes a village to raise a child." - African Proverb
I have to admit that I often smile a huge, kool-aid smile inside when someone tells me how well behaved Bobby and Maya are, or that they eat so well, or are so healthy and smart. I beam when people marvel at my house being clean or that the kids are homeschooled (for that whole hour a day, but let's be honest, learning takes no time off!) or that I have the patience to take them to the library or church or that my homemade meals are delicious. It's a great boost to my self-esteem; it's prideful, too, I know. But, I have to be honest, it isn't just me. It wouldn't get done without others people, my village so-to-speak.
Peter is the most amazing husband and father. I know that I'm biased (as I should be) but he is. He gets up in the middle of the night to comfort a teething child. He rubs my sore shoulders. His morning starts with snuggling a baby before he gets showered and dressed for work. I make his breakfast, we eat and share (sometimes the only of the day) quiet time, he takes his lunch (which I've packed), and off he goes. After working a long day as the sole breadwinner, he comes home, with a smile, to snuggle a baby and hug his wife. Two nights a week, he loses me immediately to the gym; two other nights, to a run. All four of those nights, I'm gone for at least an hour, sometimes an hour and a half. He's tired, he's worked all day, and now he's on solo-daddy time. The kids adore it- and him. Getting Daddy all to themselves is a highlight of their day. I get home and he continues playing with the kids until dinner is ready, then we all sit around the table and eat. One of us bathes the kids while the other straightens the kitchen. When the day is said and done and the kids are in bed, we usually watch an hour of football or Psych or something we've DVR'ed (Law and Order: SVU? LA? UK?) His payback for his nonstop day? He likes to bikeride for a bit on the weekend. But if it is busy, he stays home and doesnt complain. He hasnt touched a videogame since we moved and rarely spends more than 5 minutes or so on his computer (when he's not looking something up for me). He works hard, rarely plays, and usually has a smile on his face. That's not to say we dont have our moments or disagreements; we do- we're normal. But when I look at him, I can truly say that our family is blessed. I am blessed. When you see a well behaved child in church, see Peter.
Sarah and I have only known each other for about a decade. We met in church just before she got married, and we clicked. We were both new to an area, were far from our families, and had few people in our lives. She's my best friend. We've been through good times and bads. Our lives have fell apart, and the other has helped put the pieces back together. When I was delivered Nicholas, it was Sarah who went back to the house and cleaned up after. When I came home pregnant with Sophia, it was Sarah who bought bleachable sheets and held me on the couch while the men set our bed up downstairs and I sobbed. After Alexander was born, it was Sarah who called every single day to make sure that I was out of bed and okay. When I was pregnant with Bobby and Maya, she visited the hospital (45 minutes from her house) 2-3 (and sometimes more!) times a week, bringing food, a decaf coffee, and craft time. My room was full of joy and happiness, even when I wasnt able to bring that myself. She always had a funny story or a to-pass-the-time activity. All the while, she was going through a divorce. Ask her about it, and she'll tell you it worked out... That she was able to be there for us in a way she might not have otherwise been able to be. I dont know too many people who are able to cope with something so traumatic and give so much to someone else. Since the kids were born, Aunt Sarah is never without lending a hand, whether it is watching kids so dinner can get made or playing with them so I can pee in peace. She encouraged me when I told her I wanted to run again and we've competed several races together. And lest I leave out her "voice of reason": she's more than happy to tell me when I'm being a bitch or am out of line (I need an independent voice on that sometimes...) After work, you'll find her here a few nights a week. When you see a home-cooked meal on the table, see Sarah.
My in-laws live about 6-7 minutes from us and my MIL usually pops in a few times a week. Something that Peter suggested after we moved was that I drop the kids off for a day so that I could get stuff done. Initially, he thought I might have so much spare time I might get to the gym or relax (HA HA) but since it takes me about 6 hours to top-to-bottom clean the house, that was blown from the water! It took me some convincing, but he said that I shouldnt look at it as time away from me but time with their grandparents. So, we tried it... And for several weeks, it's worked out well. Wednesday mornings, usually after their breakfast, I load the kids up and take them to "Uita and Grandpa's" for the day. They play, nap, eat, and have a good time for about 6 hours, while I swing by the grocery store and then get to work scrubbing away the grime and doing a week's worth of laundry. Beds get stripped, floors get done, and wood gets dusted and polished. You wouldnt think it would take so long to clean, but I take the opportunity to scrub toilets and bathtubs and everything else. At the end of the day, I'm tired, but it's so validating to have a clean space. During the week, floors may get swept, beds made, and toys are put away at the end of the night, but it's Housework Wednesdays when everything really gets done. In addition, my MIL is always happy to sit in the car with the kids if the weather is bed so that I can run into a store, or to hang with them at home for an hour so I can do a quick errand. She has no aversion to changing butts or feeding them so that I can escape to the bathroom or just have a quick break. We dont always agree, but we are there for one another and love one another. When you see my clean house, see my in-laws.
I could go on and on and on. From the people who drop off cute outfits they find when they are out to the folks who offer to bring us dinner to the people who hold a baby in church so that we can serve (or just have a break)... The friends who call just because or email to say hi or post a FB message just because they are thinking of us... They are our community, our family of friends and neighbors (and, in some cases, family members). I'm fortunate to be the primary caretaker of our children and home, but it isn't just me. So, if you look around and see something nice, feel free to make the comment- it warms my heart! But know that, behind that warm heart and smile, there is a village making it all work together.