Thursday, July 6, 2017

Helping Hands

Wow, it's been awhile since I had some downtime to sit and write.  I miss it.  It just seems as the years pass, we get busier and busier.  I like to think of busyness in the family life as a wave and we are just in the swell right now.  Soon enough we will have kids who can drive and alleviate some of that time sucking parental duty.  But right now we have seven active kids who need to be places but can't get there, need to eat but can't really cook, are too young to babysit the littlest ones for too long, are too old to think going to a playground is still the best day ever.  We can't just stay home like we used to do when the older kids were young, so the younger kids are leading a completely different life than the oldest.  When the littles get big, they won't have any little ones around, so they too will be living a different life than their big siblings now.  Everyone has to be flexible, patient, understanding...and we all know that is a tall order.  I even snapped at a single young coworker who kept complaining about being exhausted...seriously??  Is it that tiring taking care of only yourself?  (Not my best moment!)  Anyway, it's a great season we are in, full of so much energy and life, but just extremely tiring as I fall into bed by 9 hoping the kitchen fairies will come and help a mother out.

Back in the beginning of June, I read an article by Erica Tighe that touched my tired heart.  Go ahead and read it, I'll wait.

Wasn't that so sweet?  How completely selfless of her to watch her friend's kids for a week while they went to Italy.  I loved what she said here:

What if we as single people, gave up the immense freedom of our daily lives for a tiny bit so that our married friends can get away for a weekend and spend time holding hands, looking in each other's eyes, laughing, doing something fun, seeing each other - without interruption of someone peeing in the checkout line. 
I think that would help our society as a whole. Happy marriages create happy families which create happy children which create a happy culture. 
Our old downstairs neighbors who were much loved and missed!!  Hi Sarah and Katie!

We have been blessed with a single person like this in our life. She was our first babysitter back when she was in high school and has grown to become part of the family. She's always offering to do fun activities with the kids, babysit so we can catch our breath, or just come and hang out while we discuss life. But, if you asked her (because she's a saint) she would tell you that she gets more out of our relationship than she gives. We invite her over for family dinners, even though the kids are rambunctious and the meal is sub-par, we take her on family trips and celebrate holidays together, we give her the opportunity to be around little kids and make sure she has gingerale and crackers when she's sick (from the stomach bug we shared!). It's such a nice relationship, and one I couldn't have with any of my married friends. My married friends are busy raising their children, taking care of their homes and making time for their spouse, as they should be.

In the past month, we've also had four of our priest friends over for dinners. This is another type of relationship that is such a  blessing. Our kids (6 possible priestly vocations!!) get to hang out with some fun and holy men while we give them a glimpse into family life and make them confident they chose the right vocation. Celibacy forever! ;) We were actually discussing starting a new retreat program where seminarians will go to a family's house and take care of the kids for the weekend while the parents can go away on a marriage retreat. Wouldn't that be great? Can someone get that started pronto?  Thanks.

  My parents moving in downstairs has created our own little village where they can drive our boys to serve Mass, teach the kids how to hang cabinets, spoil them with treats as potty-training rewards, and in return we can cut the grass, cook them a meal, offer a helping hand.  It's been lovely.  I guess I've just been pondering this "It takes a village" mindset for a while now, and I completely agree with it.  We all need help, after all, Jesus sent out his disciples two by two, not alone.  But I don't think it's just about single/retired/religious people helping families raise their kids, I think it's a two-way street where families also help out those who might be feeling lonely or just need a nice meal with a side of funny kidisms.  We can all reach out to serve one another.


  1. How blessed you are to have family near by. Both by blood and by choice. Do you know Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol? "We'll do it all, everything, on our own." is the first line and that's what our life feels like sometimes. A few friends but non who aren't married with kids and such. No family. Along with your awesome seminarians watching kids idea, there should also be "we need a village" events at Parishes for people who need to find more people for their village.

  2. My life goal is to have a priest over for dinner. For some reason it really scares me. Way to go opening your home up to them and others.

  3. I love this so much. I had read Erica's post before, but it was good to re-read. How awesome would that be?! I'm so happy you have a wonderful young woman who shares family life with you. I'm sure it's a blessing on both sides. I so agree on the priests as well. It always does my heart well when they are in our midst at our house. The kids thrive on it and share every possible little thing with them and show them all the stuff around here that they think is important. The photos all made me smile :) I've been thinking about the village lately too and trying to figure out how we can revamp ours. We could use the village help right about now.

  4. I agree completely. With all of it. It used to be that way when families lived with or near several generations. And people gathered outside more and family, friends and the "village" interacted more often. Now so many are isolated and it can be so hard.

  5. I loved being the single person to my married friends with 5 littles. It was such a blessing every week for me to toss in a load of laundry,( because I had none at my apartment) and then I took over. I read to the kids, did crafts, ran around outside with them...I sometimes even cooked supper and did bedtime routine. It gave me a family when my own was far.

    They moved when I got married...and I still miss my little smushes every day! I should give them a call. Thanks for reminding me of the blessing those little balls of chaos were!


Talk to me...