I’m not someone who asks for favors. When I ask you to help me out, it’s because I’m desperate. Feeling indebted to others is one of the things I despise most about being a human in a world with other humans. I will be the first to jump to your aid, but I much prefer the transactional nature of financial exchanges over asking for charity.
I think that’s where you’ll find the crux, here: I look at favors like charity. Like asking friends for a helping hand makes me weak or dependent. Like I can’t take care of myself or my family.
Similarly, we don’t have family that lives close to us. Our nearest immediate family members are a 2 hour drive away, which is nice when Brandon and I need to get out for a full night or have backup care for business trips. But in case of an emergency, our options are limited. Paid sitters aren’t available last-minute much of the time. Sometimes, shit happens.
I was stuck on the tarmac the other night on a flight that wasn’t taking off. I was more than three hours delayed when I realized I wouldn’t make it back in time for Brandon to make it to his final hockey game of the season. He is the goalie, so if he doesn’t play, the team doesn’t play – especially if he drops out last minute. He of course wouldn’t have left Cameron alone while I was flying back, but we were in a real jam because he had to get out the door.
Enter The Village. Through gritted teeth, I texted 2 of my friends and Brandon texted another set to see if someone would mind coming over on a Thursday night to sit at our house while Cam slept and I worked to get home. Brandon even offered to take him to someone else’s house so as not to inconvenience anyone too much.
The friends he texted, friends we have had for years, refused due to “an early morning,” as though we had asked them out for drinks rather than reaching out in an emergency. I have never been so floored that one of the only favors we’ve ever asked of them was rejected so soundly when we were really in between a rock and a hard place.
One of the people I texted was at work (nurses–the nerve, huh?!) and the other was someone I had been MIA from for a couple months. I had been thinking about her recently and how I hadn’t been the greatest friend because I was traveling so much I hadn’t checked in. I felt terrible asking her for a favor, particularly in light of all that, but she was instantly at our house while her husband stayed with their kiddo. “That’s what moms do,” she said. “We’re a village!”
It’s moments like this that remind you how much friendship truly means, and what a blessing it is to have a village. Moms, particularly those without family close by, sometimes end up in jams. I remember my parents asking our neighbors to watch me in the middle of the night when my brother was born. You pick the kids up at school when someone is stuck. In the case of our nanny share, the host family’s moms were more than happy to watch Cam for an extra couple hours while Brandon was stuck in some horrendous traffic back from Nashville. It’s just what you do. I would do the same in a heartbeat for any of them.
This experience also reminded me how important it is to cultivate relationships with the people that matter to you, and to distance yourself from those who don’t share your values. I am so grateful to have a community of loved ones–my chosen family–and I’m making it a pledge this year to not take them for granted. And maybe to get a little less freaky about asking for favors. But I’ll still never want to.