it takes a village… but I don’t live in a village

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Boy, oh boy, are they right. At least, up until age 5, when school (aka educational childcare) becomes free. The problem that reduced me to tears, actual sobs, today is that I don’t live in a village or near a village. I live in the middle of absolutely nowhere, a place where cousins and co-workers cannot stop in and help out. Oh, and also, I live on one income: mine. So every day she spends in childcare is one more thing we do without.

Twelve days ago, M started running fevers. Four days after that, we visited two EDs and a clinic for respiratory distress. Two days after that, I started getting the symptoms: fever, coughing, mucus production. I rode it out over the weekend, thinking ‘viral’, because M was better (without the use of antibiotics). On Monday, it wasn’t better, not at all, so I went the doctor. He said “viral”, keep resting, keep drinking fluids, here’s a note for work, see you in a few days if you’re not better. Two days later I woke up NOT better and with one eye swollen, pink, and crusted shut. Today he wrote me for antibiotics (pills and eye drops) and a chest X-Ray on Friday if I’m still not better.

All of that is fine, just fine, if I wasn’t out of PTO (paid time off) at work and I’m now going to be no-pay every day that I miss. Which means less money for M’s daycare, groceries, diapers/pull-ups, gas, and bills. Also it would be fine if I had someone else to help me care for M. My mom does a lot, but she can’t completely take over for me when I’m sick this long. I’ve never been sick this long in the history of my being a mom, and she also has her own health issues that slowly get worse. I’m not ungrateful for the things she does (my laundry and dishes, for example), but bottom line, I needed more help. I needed it bad. On Sunday I drove an hour to my sister’s house, and she took M with her to work at a daycare and then played with her and fed her and stuff. I slept on her bed the entire time.

Today, I broke down. I was bawling. I was trying to think of how I would get through another day of this. How would I pay my bills? How will I keep up with housework, and the garden (aka plot of weeds right now)? How would I be good mom, most importantly??? I will have to get rid of things to save more money to pay for another day of school. It’s about $5.63 per hour for her to go there, and very much the place I want her to be, with an academic curriculum (well, learning curriculum for toddlers) and a very transparent program. The going rate for babysitters is $10-15/hour… ouch. If I add another day of school to her week (3 days instead of 2), I will be paying $180 more per month. I can also have her stay until 5 or 6pm instead of 4. That’s another $135 per month.

So what costs $180 per month? The cable, internet, and home phone. Definitely not essentials so I’m not going to pay for them anymore. My mother wants them at my house, so she is going to pay for it. But if she stops wanting to pay for it or being able to, they’re gone. I can’t get rid of my car payment, car insurance, or house insurance. My utilities will be way down because it’s summer, but the trash and water are not negotiable. I’m locked in a cell phone contract but I can try to get that down, too, somehow. I can also just stop using diapers completely at home. M went without a pull up all the way to the doctor’s and back today, using the toilet there and at home. Diapers are so expensive.

If M is in school three days a week, it doesn’t help me with weekends. As a nurse I’m required to work 4 weekend days (Saturday or Sunday) per month. Sundays my sister can take M from 1pm until I get home from work. I’m looking into other options for Saturdays. If my mom were to be unable to take M to school in the morning at 8am (I leave for work at 5:30am) or pick her up (I don’t get home until 8:30pm) I’d be in some serious trouble. Job searching trouble, looking for an office nurse job.

Bottom line? This is all really, really hard. It sure would be great to have a “dad” who was as roped into this as I was (meaning equally responsible for childcare costs and household costs), or even friends with kids who could take M for a bit and I could return the favor for them. Hell, it would just be great to have friends, period, who had the time, energy, or whatever to be close enough to us that they could drop by, or take M somewhere for a bit. But I live in the real, live middle of nowhere, and no one wants to drive an hour plus one way.

Sometimes I just wonder what I’m going to do… how am I going to make it, when I’m sick, when my mom can’t help? When I can’t afford childcare and electricity? I spend a week so sick it hurts to have my eyes open, and yet my kid needs me. Needs me to get up, feed her, play with her, instruct her, and interact with her. This week there have been times when I just felt like I couldn’t do it… I couldn’t be the mom she needed. Nothing on earth is more soul-crushing to me than that. I wished so hard that I had a back up for her. I felt like I was letting her down. I feel like a failure, and doubt I’m going to be feeling better about it for some time.

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Categories: parenting

7 Comments »

  1. So hard! You’re right, it does take a village. We need support, we can’t be everything 100% of the time to our kids. So sorry you are in this place. Your daughter will be fine, you are not failing her. This is life, a little bump in the road, and she will learn from it also. I was so ill when my daughter was 2.5, and then I got vertigo. Couldn’t even stand up from bed. I called her to my side and said, “Listen to mommy very carefully. I need you to go to the fridge, open it, and get yourself a cheese stick. And I need you to pour yourself some milk. You need to feed yourself. Mommy can’t move.”

    And she did. And she has ever since, and she was proud as punch at her independence. Now she’s 4 and she makes her own breakfast most mornings, because she likes to. It’s ok. Kids learn from us in our state of weakness. You’re doing great.

  2. Being the only parent is so, so hard all the time, but especially in times of sickness. It makes you acutely aware of just how much you do day in and day out, on your own, with no help. You’re a good mom, and it’s okay if M has a few days in a row where she’s watching too much tv, or not getting the attention she’s used to.

    I understand this burden very well. I am so deeply saddened by the lack of a village mothers seem to have these days. When I was growing up, I was surrounded by family, and my mom – even though she was a widow with 2 small children – had family & friends surrounding her and taking us ALL the time. I wish I had that same thing. But, I don’t. And in times of hardship, I am so acutely aware of it, and I’ve had similar sobbing sessions just like you had.

    This too will pass, and you’ll come out the other side of this okay, and so will M.

  3. I don’t know how it works if you’re in a contract, but I’m saving money on my phone bill by using a non-smart phone with Cricket wireless. $25 a month gets me calls and texts and that’s all I really need.

    Would you ever consider putting a paypal donation button on your blog? I don’t know you, and I don’t even remember how I found your blog, but I’ve been reading for awhile now and I’d be happy to donate an extra $20 when I have it. I’m sure I’m not alone!

  4. Yes to all of the above. You will do it because it has to be done. And you will do it with love! I am coming from a totally different place but when I realized I needed a tribe for me and my little people I started searching like it was my job. We were looking for a non religious group which made it that much harder (at least in this area). 6.5 years later I have that group, I have at least five moms that I could drop my kids off to it I needed. It is work to keep those relationships, but worth it. Sounds like your town is so small, I really hope you can find someone close or if not start making bonds in the big town, sounds like M can do the drive no problem. Good luck, and get better!

  5. That sounds so hard and stressful. I hope you’re feeling better. Being sick makes every problem worse. You’re doing a great job in spite of all the difficulties. I wish I lived close!

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