You know those times in your life when you’re just not sure how you’re going to do it all?
Living as a solo parent, sometimes I find myself wishing for a sub. Not like a substitute teacher, but more like a sub in a game.
There I am running up and down the court, sweating and thirsty, as I notice there’s a whole half left in the game. I raise my hand, “Can I get a sub, please?”
Well this post is a toast to the subs in this world. And it’s also a toast to you because you’ve probably been a sub for someone and, as they say in Georgia, don’t it feel good?
The best part about moments of gratitude like this is noticing how this good thing was already set in motion—like somebody somewhere was out there doing the training—the sprints and the high kicks—preparing for the day I’d raise my hand.
For me, the best stories are the ones that are often overlooked. For instance, the subject of this story is carpooling (surprise!), or an example of what I’ve always called the mom economy. You put in and you get back.
Not too long ago when I was going through a big transition in my life, friends brought pie to my doorstep and little presents and well wishes; it felt like the mom economy at its best. When my friend Sara made me pot roast on my first night in the new house, I could feel the years of paying into the system. And when my other friend Ania messaged me about a drawer full of persimmons the other night, my winter obsession, well, I knew I’d done something right. And I still don’t know if my secret hat admirer is a mom, but it doesn’t matter, whoever you are, you are in my economy, or as Father Gregory Boyle says, you are in my jurisdiction.
Good stories have a twist, right? Even carpooling stories, and this one is no different because yes it’s about carpooling, and yes, it’s about the mom economy.
But it kinda stars a dad. Read on and you’ll see.
This fall I’ve been helping my friend Kim take her 2 kids to school when Chris, her husband, travels. At times, I was kind of flaky about getting back to her messages, because my life was going a million miles an hour, but it felt good to help.
When Kim heard that the kids’ dad was moving out of town and I’d be shuttling Nico to school every day, she was swift with her offer. Chris was the driver to school and Chris would be happy to help. Chris, just by being himself and perhaps with some volunteering (actually I prefer my brother’s military word for this, “voluntold”) from his wife, earned his badge.
Chris has been in town for 2 weeks now, and I think I’ve taken the kids to school once. I’ll be back on the schedule soon enough, but through Kim’s family’s generosity I’ve gotten a break just when I was feeling the most overwhelmed. Just when the sub wishing became the subject of my daydreams. And because I work from home that means I can start working at 8am—gaining almost a whole hour of momentum and work time.
The mom economy is really just a word for taking care of each other. You don’t need any credit in this system to jump in and you don’t even need to be a mom. But it sure feels good to know that something I believe in is healthy and thriving and that paying into it has great value, not for the returns so much as the investment.
So cheers to the Kim’s and Chris’s of this world and may we all aspire to do our part to create a thriving mom economy/world. And don’t wait to play your role as Chris or Kim in someone’s life because not everyone raises their hand and sometimes we don’t even know when it’s time for a sub.