I barely make it before the 5:30 pm deadline to pick up my son from after school care. He appears to be having fun, playing with friends. We get in the car and after brief conversation, he says “is tomorrow another after school care day?”
I quickly respond with “yes, don’t you like after school care?” Seeking comfort more for me than for him.
“I do, but I like going home too.” I elaborate a little more about why we use after school care – both dad and I work late, and we do not have a lot help during the week or in the afternoons.
“Well what about this aunt, or that uncle, or my grandma?” And that is when it all comes crashing down.
Different than how I grew up, our help is extremely limited. My family lives in New Orleans, so take away half of our options. My father-in-law works full time, as does my brother/sister in law. My mother-in-law works part time. She is willing to help, but not at the extent I’m used to or that I grew up with. As hard as it is to explain to my son is as hard as it is for me to understand. Not because the way I was raised is correct, but it sure was different. My grandparents brought us to school, picked us up, cooked dinner, and helped with laundry. They all had their own lives filled with work, shopping, exercising, etc., but my siblings and I were the priority. My mom worked 12 hour shifts at the hospital, and my dad worked sometimes four jobs at a time. Our village was full – family, friends, co-workers, classmates – anyone who could get the job done!
Our village now is different. It’s small but sweet. Limited in its desires; difficult to understand. I’m 34, and I struggle daily. I know a big part of my issuing is comparing what I know to what I have. Now realizing my 5 year old son is starting to notice is heartbreaking, but I’m thankful for the times we do have help and the people who willingly step up to do so.