It Takes A Whole Village To Raise One Child We All Everyone Must Share The Burden

So we have been placed in isolation.

Someone in Z’s class has a confirmed case of Covid so last week we got a very official letter from Interior Health saying she has to self isolate until the end of day Dec 16th. Ok fine. I decided to keep Little E home as well just because I’m lazy and it’s easier to not drive both of them/pick him up from school but I definitely played it off like I was trying to reduce potential exposure to kids in his class as well. Either way we’ve all just been chilling at home for like the last week. Both their teachers have sent things for them to do which has been good. It’s honestly just been a mini holiday before Christmas which, let’s all admit can be more stressful than people care to let on. If we continue to have no symptoms in our household, they’ll be back at school on Thursday, which Z is excited about since that’s the Christmas concert day. Over Zoom of course.

Anyway, while that’s something new in our house, it’s not the main reason I’m posting. Last week, (pre isolation news) I got an email from the school principal saying that the Salvation Army’s toy box was available and they had an over abundance of toys available this year. They wanted to ensure everyone had a great Christmas and that they know due to Covid, people may have had a rough year. So they are extending the invitation to call and make an appointment to pick up gifts for the kids. My first thought was did she specifically send this to me? Or like did the staff pick and choose who they should give this offer to? Slightly embarrassed. Did she mass send the email to the whole school? And if so, if I go and use the services, and see someone I know there, does that just like admit/prove I’m broke struggling? Again embarrassing.

But, an offer for gifts for the kids is something I’ve been looking for and this has been basically just dropped in my lap so I decided to call. On the phone the lady was like today’s our last day you just need to make an appointment and show up and pick your toys and go. You don’t need to show how much you do or don’t make. You just come. So I decided to go.

The full on reality of it didn’t affect me until I pulled up in the parking lot and was like shit. I’m here. What if someone sees me? Using charity? Needing help? I know it seems pathetic to worry about that but when I walked in and saw that you had to sign in my heart started pounding. What if someone I know sees my name? What if this life I’ve tried to build for my kids and I is shattered by this obvious proof that I’m not that good? Besides the fact I’m not a great mom who can give them all the great things I want to all on my own? All those fears came sweeping over me. And I had to shove them away and instead think… C, you were offered this. You didn’t deceive anyone. You didn’t steal this. You came. Answered the questions asked of you and these people still wanted to bless you and your kids. You shouldn’t feel shame in that (I still did but anyway). I walked in and this wonderful older lady pulled me to the side and lowered her voice and covered her mouth with a paper to speak to me. I’m like shit this is it. She’s going to tell me I don’t belong there or something along those lines. Instead, she whispered at me asking if my 7 year old girl had a bike. I answered yes. She asked, still lowly whispering, if she would like a new one? I said I’m not sure? Maybe? Depends? I was literally overwhelmed. She said come with me. And lead me to a back room through a door. They had just received a brand new pink bike with matching helmet (adorable) that she said was mine if I wanted it since they were closing up right after me and wanted to get rid of as much as possible. It’s bigger than Z’s current bike which is perfect since she will most likely be able to use it this coming summer or grow into it the year after. I legit almost teared up. I for real figured that would be that and was far from wrong. She lead me around the room and told me to pick out a few more things for Z and then took me to the boy section and I was able to choose a few things for Little E. I kept thinking I was done and ready to walk out the door. Nope. She lead me from table to table and kept adding things to a big garbage bag. Treats for their stockings. And even a roll of wrapping paper and tape. Then she put in a little gift bag for me which made me tear up again because apart from the pjs my mom left when they were here a few weeks ago, that little gift bag will be the only gift I get this Christmas and I was so touched. I left there and sat in my car and cried. One, because I was so grateful that strangers donated to this cause to help people like me. I don’t think you understand the feelings it causes. Two, because I felt like crap because I couldn’t give my kids all that on my own and I felt like a failure. And three, how am I going to now explain to my family who knows I’m on a budget where I got these gifts for the kids come Christmas morning? It was such a mixed bag of emotions going on that I was just overcome.

So much so, that the next morning when I had my second counseling appointment, I ended up using the whole hour to discuss this exact situation. Why did I feel I didn’t deserve this? Because I’ve done everything in my life on my own, and anytime I’ve needed someone or trusted them/leaned on them, they’ve abandoned me. Why was I stressed about what my family would think? Well cause my moms a judgmental narcissistic freak but I need to get over that and leave that as her problem, not mine. So I left counseling with the feelings that I was offered these gifts for my kids and I took them in order to give my kids a fantastic Christmas and that’s being a good mom not a selfish or bad mom.

I decided to call my mom later that day just to tell her so I wouldn’t be worried about it every day until Christmas. The first thing I said once she answered the phone was that I had something important to say and that I had just spent the last hour in therapy discussing it so please just take it easy on me. Basically I needed her to know the seriousness of it to me. She was like ohhh? I’m like it’s nothing dangerous or bad, it’s just how it affects me. So I explained the above and how I was worried my family would judge me or using charity and that was that. Instead of saying no or it fine or something along those lines, she was like ‘well you can always save some of the toys for their birthdays’ and all I could think was she really doesn’t think that my kids deserve a Christmas with all these gifts.

All I want for my kids is for them to wake up on Christmas and see under the tree with all these things and just have an amazing day, and I truly think for the first time that might happen this year because of the feelings I pushed through by going and receiving those things from that charity last week. My mom however thinks the exact thing I was nervous to tell her for. We don’t deserve that much. My kids and I should only get half as much as others.

And I was like nope mom. Thanks for that suggestion, but I’m going to give my kids everything I can this year because I think my kids are fantastic and I think they deserve all this and more. And I don’t want to ever hold anything back from them. Because I want, for this once, my kids to have the most merry Christmas I can possibly give them. No matter the cost to me.

And this year it cost me my ego, my pride, and my sense of dignity thinking I can raise my kids all on my own. Because the fact of the matter is it’s taken the help of others. Something I wouldn’t normally ask for, but I’ve received anyway.

-Joan Szymko /It Takes A Village-

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