Every Thanksgiving, my family and I trot out the same old question: What are you thankful for this year? By this point, I could recite my list by heart—family and friends, a roof over our heads, food on our table, and good health. But something is different for me this year. I've been a mom for more than four years now, and more than ever I appreciate the people who help make being a parent a little easier. Because let's face it: Though rewarding, motherhood and fatherhood can also be tough, and many times, I'm getting by with more than a little help from my friends. Here are five whom I'm especially thankful for this year (and, my guess is, you have some of these folks in your life, too):
1. The Guide. As a mom of slightly older kids, she's gone through all the grisly stuff—teething, sleep issues, 2 a.m. vomitfests—and is only too happy to share her wisdom so your road is a little less bumpy. She's the one who suggests that great drop-in class, points out the best places in town to change a diaper, tells you how to save on diapers, and even slips store coupons in your mailbox. You know, just in case.
2. The New-Parent Besties. The day I met mine was nothing short of sweet relief. But my joy was about more than finally being able to have a two-sided conversation. These women have kids who are the same age as mine, so they're in the trenches with me. Without having to say it, we know to time our exits from the playground together so the kids don't have a meltdown. We help each other referee playdate squabbles and swap tips on the best recipes to sneak veggies into. We commiserate on our lack of sleep/date nights/privacy, and offer to babysit for a few hours so the other person can run errands without a child in tow.
3. The Kind Neighbor. I don't live near family, so my neighbors are especially important to me, and I've been lucky to have some great ones. They shower my son with smiles and high-fives, books, and puzzles. But they're also pretty amazing to my husband and me. They refuse to judge if/when our kiddo has a tantrum in the hallway and miraculously turned a deaf ear to his late-night crying while we were sleep training. One was even kind enough to give me a hug one Christmas, when I accidentally clogged our shared drain and flooded her kitchen.
4. The Benefactor. It wasn't until I became a parent that I realized just how generous people are. When my son was born, friends flooded my apartment with barely used onesies, pants, pajamas, and sleep sacks. As he's growing older, they're passing down incredible toys their own children are no longer using. Not only does their kindness bring a lot of joy to our family, it's also saved us a heap of money. Plus, we've been able use their generosity to inspire our son to donate his own gently used goodies so other kids can enjoy them. Win-win.
5. The Supporters. It may take a village to raise a baby, but let's face it, we parents need help, too. Enter my pit crew—the hard-working people who every day help get me out the door and keep me running til bedtime. Could I live without my funny UPS delivery guy, my favorite grocery store cashier who has never given my kid the stink-eye (even when he sort of deserved it), or the wonderful women at my local coffee shop who know my order without my even asking? Maybe. Would I want to? Never.
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