With four tiny blondes forever in tow we McCarthys tend to draw crowds and comments pretty much everywhere we go. I have completely lost count of the number of times I have heard the question, “Do you have help?” by well-meaning strangers.
Help? No I don’t have the traditional help that they are referring to. I don’t have a nanny, we don’t have a housekeeper, and the kids don’t do all-day daycares or camps. In fact the twins have not left my side since we brought them home from the hospital three years ago. Even though I now work from home I still keep up with all traditional stay-at-home mom duties: I weed my own garden, paint my home, and stain my own deck (which is why I never have my nails looking nice). I cut the lawn once a week and run over rogue toys hidden in the grass and piles of dog crap that I refuse to pick up beforehand. I cook semi-edible meals nearly every night and run the kids to soccer, swim, play dates, and the grocery store.
How do I do it all? My help comes in the form of community. Grandma comes up at least every other week for a few days and releases me from my 24-hour parental prison. My husband occasionally gets home before 7 p.m. and on those days I swear I can move mountains. Aside from those two humans, I rely on a vast community of other families and parents who make my life possible. They are the true reason I have not yet been committed to an insane asylum.
My Community of Help
The Punctual Pick Up Parent
These lifesavers offer to take my kids to sports and pick them up afterwards. They are on time and never make me feel awkward for coming to the door wearing my husband’s sweatpants, sans make up with my hair in a day three top knot. They don’t even raise their eyebrows when they catch a flash of naked toddler running through the kitchen. They don’t care because they are my people, my friends. They know putting pants on kids sucks. (Bonus: These pals will typically remember extra socks or water bottles fully knowing that you will forget to pack them.) My children love these parents because even at the tender ages of seven and nine they know that their soccer dreams and basketball fantasies would come to a screeching halt without the mighty Pick Up Parent.
The PTO/Sports Parent Scheduling Savant
How in the actual hell does she always know every single school event, function, and time frame? It is beyond me. If I didn’t have a few of these “on it” mamas I would miss half of the classroom parties, all of the fundraisers, and probably forget to pick my kids up for early release at least two or three times each year. Because of them I get to make it to the big school events (on time) and feel like less of a crappy parent. Thank you PTO moms. I don’t know how you keep it all straight, but I sure am glad that you can.
The Party Playdate Mom
Her house is genuinely fun – and not just for the kids. I have a few of these women in my life and when their child’s birthday invite comes in the mail saying “please come after the party for food and drinks,” it is on my calendar in a flash. Hell, if my kid got sick or didn’t want to go for some reason (like if they were nuts, because who in their right mind would want to skip one of her parties?) I think I would still go to this party. She cocktails, never judges, is genuinely engaging and fun to be around, and she finds inventive ways to keep the kids occupied so they do not spend the next three hours crawling all over you and spilling your wine.
The Life Saving Next Door Neighbor
Every time I need to leave town she feeds my cats, scoops their droppings, waters my plants and brings in the mail. Every. Single. Time. When I text her to beg for help she truly sounds excited to lend me a hand. Genuinely good people are like this. I am not a burden to her – I am her neighbor. Our kids play together almost everyday, she grabs my girls from school if I have an emergency situation to attend to, and we watch out for one another. This is not to say I don’t try and pay her back when I can. One time I did run next door to rip her hair out of a leafblower.
The Elementary School Moms Who Literally Feel Your Pain
Both of my elementary-aged girls were in the talent show this year. By the time I got my act together and dragged the twins the half mile to the school the gym was packed full of other supportive parents trying to catch 59 seconds of their kid’s glory. Luckily my elementary mom community was there long before me and jumped right into action. I didn’t even tell them that I was late and stuck at the back of the gym with no view nor clue as to when my girls were performing. They know me. One mom immediately texted me the order of acts so that I knew how much time I had to chase the twins around the halls before it was go time. That same mom sent me reminder texts when the girls were about to perform. Another mom made sure my oldest daughter had on her snazzy outfit and helped her do her hair and makeup. When the twins started freaking out the gym teacher unlocked her office and whipped out balloons. Baloons! Oh yeah! My gymnasium angel bought me 20 minutes of peace with those bad boys. With the help of my community I managed to catch all of the girls’ talent show acts.
So yes, I have help. I have more help than I even deserve. This community of other parents are rowing the same sinking boat as I am. They know how hard it all is. We are all just trying to do our best and help out where we can. It truly does take a village to raise kids, and I’m thankful I for mine.