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it takes a village

For the first month of Junebug’s life, we followed a divide and conquer strategy. With D home on R&R and plenty of relatives visiting, balancing two kids was a manageable challenge. Newborns sleep a lot and are relatively portable, and with an endless stream of visitors who gave Munchkin the attention he covets and helped with the day-to-day household chores, the first four weeks flew by. We felt incredibly lucky to have had so much family support, but S was under no illusions about how daunting being home alone with both kids would be.

When D headed to Boston for a concert one evening, S called a friend for some back-up. With D returning to Kigali, S took the kids back to her parents’ house in Bangor, but as soon as her mom went back to work, S felt her knees weaken at the prospect of being on her own, especially since Munchkin always gives her a much harder time than he does everyone else. When S’s parents left for an entire weekend, she turned to her oldest childhood friends, who both heroically offered to come help.

One friend drove from Massachusetts with her six-year-old son and the other flew in from LA. The highlight of the weekend was the visit to Treworgy farm for blueberry and raspberry picking, which was a huge hit with both boys. The farm also had an old tractor, goats to feed and pet, and pizza and cider donuts. The following day S had planned to take advantage of the sunshine to take the kids to a nearby lake, but after watching her fall asleep sitting up, her friends convinced S to nap instead while she had the extra set of hands.

Once the kids were all tucked in bed for the night, S and her girlfriends jested that this is what it must be like to be sister-wives. There are always enough hands to hold the baby, make dinner, and entertain the older ones. It all felt so smooth and efficient. When Sunday rolled around and a neighbor backed out of helping with bedtime, S’s friend stayed late to help, even though it meant she’d have to drive through the night to get home for work the next day.

Though she knows she would have managed to get by on her own somehow, S is thankful for the help, especially because of what it means for the kids. With friends and family visiting, Munchkin has spent his summer days playing outside and telling his elaborate stories instead of spending too much time glued to a screen, as tends to happen when we run low on parental energy. And with extra hands to help with Junebug, S could dedicate hours to pumping to get nursing off to a good start. After struggling with nursing Munchkin, it has been an immense relief not to have to repeat that ordeal with Junebug. To all our friends and family near and far who came to help, we are eternally grateful.

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