Rambunctious. I’d say that’s a good word to describe my son. The old adage “it takes a village to raise a child” is true in my case. I’m guessing most parents can relate.
Earlier this month I participated in a two-day Motivational Interviewing training class taught by KPCC at Christ Church in downtown Charleston. My dad generally watches my son while I’m working, but on this particular day he was unavailable. As such, he enlisted the help of my 82-year-old great aunt.

Over the last two years, my great aunt has spent several days each week helping my dad with my rambunctious boy. She shows up promptly at 9:30 a.m.most mornings with a McDonald’s bag in hand. She is one of the sweetest and most generous people I know. And since her own children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren live out of state, she gets to spend a lot of time with my family. Lucky for us!

My great aunt does not hear well and often repeats herself. If McDonald’s forgets the hash brown or overcooks her biscuit, you better believe you’ll hear about it…over and over again.

At 3:00 in the afternoon on the second day of my training class, I got a phone call from my great aunt. Not once in the two years she’s been watching my son have I ever received a call like this from her.

Before I could say hello, I hear the words “I can’t find him! I’ve looked and looked and he won’t answer me! I put him down for a nap and when I went to check on him, he was gone.” She repeats this several times as I excuse myself from the room and try not to panic.

I can hear her voice begin to quiver and I can tell she’s nervous. She’s sure he hasn’t left the house and she gets around quite well for 82 years old, but she is no match for my stealthy toddler. Frankly, neither am I.

It’s ok, I tell myself. He’s just hiding from her. He’s two; he loves to hide. It’s not uncommon for me to hear “Mommy, where are me?” a few times each day.

I end the call so I can think. I will call her right back.

I decide to abandon the training class and go home and help. But it takes me 30 minutes to get home. My poor great aunt! She’ll be in tears by then. Which of my neighbors would be home on a Thursday afternoon? What are their phone numbers? Who could I contact to help coax my stubborn boy from his hiding place? What should I do?

I call my mom’s work phone. Now my voice is quivering. I ask her to help me look up the neighbors’ phone numbers while I gather my stuff and head to the car. She offers another solution. “You stay where you are and I will leave work and go look for him.” I tell her it’s ok. I will go home. My kid, my problem.

As I unlock my car, I get another call. Crisis averted. My son was hiding behind the bed, snickering. I apologize to my frazzled 82-year-old great aunt and switch back to the call with my mom. My nerves start to calm.

I ask her if my brother and I ever pulled such stunts. (We did.) I vent about how hard it is to be a working parent. I drone on about how guilty I feel leaving my son in someone else’s care. I complain about missing milestones like rolling over and first steps, because I was “at work”. I explain how difficult it is to leave my son in the mornings when he clings to my leg and says “Mommy, please don’t work today.”

She listens and tells me she understands. Then it hits me for the first time. She really does. My mom is a working mom too. And she has been my entire life. Those vacation days she worked so many years to accumulate were used on things like taking me to the orthodontist and being there to help me with my costume for the school Halloween party. She often took her sick days to nurse me back to health, only to suffer through the rest of the work week with a sore throat herself.

Both of my parents did. Now that I am a working parent, I can truly comprehend the sacrifices they made for me. That’s not to say that stay-at-home parents don’t make sacrifices too. All parents do.

Because of this revelation, and the fact that Thanksgiving is tomorrow, I am reminded how important it is to show gratitude and appreciation to all the people who impact our lives.

For many of us, Thanksgiving usually includes four-day weekends, football games, floats, family gatherings and binge eating turkey. Yes, I fully intend to overeat tomorrow. But before I snag that last scoop of sweet potatoes, I will be sure to give thanks to the village of people who are helping me to raise my rambunctious son.

Wishing you and your “village people” a very happy Thanksgiving!