Guilt Attack

Frazzled mom at our school, bringing her girl in for kindergarten. I caught the tail end of our teacher’s advice to her: “ask another mom.” She turned and there was me.

“Hi!’ she said, “I’m N!” I shook her hand and read panic in a face that looked more accustomed to smiling. I wanted to help.

The story goes: two parent family, both working early and not late; elder teenage daughter starting school at 8:40;  kindergarten starts at nine. Can I walk her daughter? She’ll drop her at my house.

The boys and I picked up a classmate last year every morning, and I’ve said to his mom that I’m not available for that this year. Mainly – I didn’t/don’t know what my schedule will be like for the majority, so I figured not to promise something I’d have to cancel suddenly. Especially since the walking of said classmate was a half hour extra walking, and I knew that there may be more morning chaos in a two working parent family.

However, the classmate’s mom already feels somewhat alienated; if I started walking someone else’s kid, I would feel like I was contributing to that.

 But, okay.

Maybe I could walk everyone if they’re dropped at my house. Maybe the boy we were walking last year and his newly minted Kindergarten sister could also be dropped at my house. Possibilities. “Well,” I said, “maybe.”

Only, the confusion starts. N. wants to drop her daughter at my house at quarter to eight. I must have heard wrong. Quarter after eight? I ask. No, quarter to.

I am not a morning person. Walking is one thing. 15 minutes plus walking is another thing. An hour of care in the morning? Oh-no-no-no-no. At least some of the morning, I plan to be streaking about in my underpants yelling at the kids to brush their teeth already and growling randomly at the radio.

However, when I start work in whatever capacity, either John or I will have to walk our own kids to school, so why not, right?

“That’s pretty early for us.” I said. “Let me talk about it with my husband.”

I rubbed my thumb across the card in my pocket with her number on it while walking home, and felt guilty. I think maybe guilty that we have the luxury of avoiding such panics, right now.

… Although now, writing it out, I think – knowing where the teenage child goes to school – that if teenage child is part of the equation, than an 8:25/8:30 drop off at my place as the teenager gets to school isn’t out of the question.

Also, is this a free service I am providing? I am usually a big fan of  performing free services for neighbours when I have the time, energy, and ability. I am a socialist, after all.  *laughing*

But usually I offer. Mmm. 

Maybe I feel a bit less guilty already. 5 hours a week worth of childcare requested of a stranger is quite a gift to seek.


  1. Shit, I’d feel guilty asking a good friend for five hours of free childcare a week, to say nothing of a stranger. The guilt should be on the other foot.

  2. I think it also means that we would have to be home and ready to take kids to school every morning, even if you, or the kids, or whomever were sick (or taking a mental health day).

    You’re not working RIGHT NOW, but you are (probably) going to be working SOON, which could utterly mess up everything. I can’t imagine me on my bike trailing five kids to school and then having to gun it to work.

    Just sounds like a lot of stress for nothing more than helping out a stranger. I get that they’re stuck, but there’s gotta be another option (or at least one that can trade back and forth week-to-week).

  3. My guilt has dissipated. It is a bit weird that that was my first response, really.

    To be helpful, I offered to find the link I used to find childcare options all at once when I was going back to work full time two years ago: that’s something a stranger who wants to help can reasonably do.

  4. That’s a pretty amazing request from a stranger–glad you have shed the guilt about it. It is crazy, though, how work and school schedules are so wildly out of whack.

  5. My immediate reaction was, “Of course you will do it,” but having thought for thirty seconds, no. I concur that it’s too much, especially considering that you don’t know what your employment situation is going to be. Now I sort of dislike N. What is she, one of these doe-eyed women who expect others to cover for them? How did she not anticipate what was going to happen when school started?

    Then again, I am a People Pleaser. And, I think, the only non-parent to respond so far. So what do I know?

  6. I’m with Liz on the “doe-eyed woman expecting others to cover for her”. I am thinking she’s known for a little while that she’s got a 5 year old about to start kindergarten and she’s trying to organize something the second week in September?
    I would commiserate, “Yeah, it’s a bitch to find child care when you’re working. I’m about to be in the same boat.”
    Because working parent – child care – it’s a bitch.

  7. I wouldn’t have left my kindergarten aged daughter at a total stranger’s house at any hour of the day, never mind at quarter to fuck in the a.m, and I don’t think you would either. what’s with her??

  8. Well, no shit. You’re right.

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