We never would have made it through last weekend without the help of other parents. As the parents of four kids, we are constantly relying on others. Luckily, we are surrounded by very helpful people. And for this, I am so grateful.
Last weekend, the kids were all swimming in a swim meet in Largo — 45 minutes from home. The older three were in the morning sessions and Jonah was in the afternoon. Maggie made finals both days, which meant she had to return to swim again in the evening. The logistics of how to get the kids there and home and back again without everyone having to hang out at the pool for 14 hours made my head swim. Luckily, three families were gracious enough to lend us a hand.
Back in the early days, I didn’t realize what four kids would look like 10 years down the road. It was definitely a little crazy then. We were sleep deprived and constantly playing strategic defense, but we could pretty much handle them all on our own. A child might be forced to walk when he wanted to be carried or be shorted a lap when all laps were full, but it worked. They learned to deal.
But then they got older and became involved in sports and activities, and that’s when we realized we couldn’t do it alone. A kid can’t walk 50 miles to a swim meet, and there’s no way to drive to three different places at the same time.
Our kids couldn’t live the full lives they lead without the help of other parents. We try to organize carpools so that there’s a tradeoff, but it’s rarely fair. Other parents might cart my four somewhere while I’m just driving their two home. And many times, we just flat out have to ask for help — no promise that the favor will ever be returned.
So to the swimming parents who pitch in to get my kids places; to the lacrosse dad who drops my kid at home; to the mom who offers to take my youngest to every birthday party; to the neighbor teen who takes my son to school every day and countless others — I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please know that I don’t take your help for granted. If I don’t get around to paying you back, know that someday I hope to pay it forward.
Because despite the fact that I’m feeling a little ragged right now, I feel so blessed to have four amazing kids. And even more blessed by the help you have given us to make this crazy life possible.
FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 16, Lilly, 14, Adam, 14, and Jonah, 10.