But then it’s there for you. Family members pop out of the woodwork to help when you need it most. Or lend an ear when you have a story, news, or just need to talk.
Or teach something you didn’t know you needed to learn.
Take my sister-in-law. She’s a beautiful, kind, wonderful person – everyone wondered why on Earth she was marrying my brother – who handles herself perfectly in every situation. No, really. I have yet to see her cranky, selfish, or anything less than confident.
She’s taught me to be more trusting and appreciative of those who watch my son.
Every time I watch her baby, she’s grateful. She’s unfailingly gracious, and talks of how everyone who spends time with him enriches him. It’s such a generous way of thinking of the world.
I wish I’d told my parents that.
I wish I’d told every caregiver how they were expanding my child’s world. Of how they were teaching him new things, and enriching his life. Of how the things they were doing differently were expanding his mind.
Too often, I worried about things being done ‘right.’ About people not paying attention, and him slipping away, unnoticed. I obsessed over whether or not people really understood how much he needed to be watched – he was a wanderer – and cared for, since his mental age didn’t fit his actual.
I forgot to be gracious. I forgot just how much a different experience can mean to a child, in my quest to make everyone pay attention and be just like me.
But I can’t rewind and go back. I can’t suddenly give up anxiety, as it seems to be permanently welded to my personality by this point.
I can however, start letting go. Friends and family have earned some trust.
Nobody is perfect – I’m not even close – and it’s a good thing; perfection is boring and bland. Who can learn in a perfectly sanitary, perfectly correct, perfectly organized world? Where do the mud fights and fake wrestling and ah-ha! moments fit in if everything’s safely encased in bubble wrap and already plotted out?
So next time the grandparents watch my son, I’m going to smile and hand him over. I’m not going to go over safety rules that they already know. I’m not going to ask what they’re going to do. And when I pick him up, I’m going to thank them for enriching his life.
Note: My brother has since turned out to be a fantastic father and husband. Turns out she’s as good at judging people as she is at everything else!