When you’re afraid to be a helper

You’ve most likely heard of the quote from Mr. Rogers about what to do in times of trouble. “Look for the helpers,” his mother told him. At a time of global pandemic and the accompanying uncertainty and fear, our world needs so much, yet I am afraid to be a helper.

There is a call for food pantry volunteers, for people to deliver groceries to those who can’t go out, for child care for the children of essential workers. But what if you are afraid to be a helper? Afraid to put yourself or your family at risk of getting sick by leaving your bubble and getting to the business of helping? That’s been my internal struggle. I want to help. I ask what would Jesus do and I know before I get the question out of my mouth that he would care for the sick, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless.

Does my fear make me a bad person? No. Does it mean that I have too little faith? Maybe. God and I are having conversations about that.

And while I sit with my fear vs. faith struggle, I seek small ways that I can help from where I am.

  • I can call to check in on friends or family, particularly those who are isolated without family.
  • I can send cards to nursing homes, addressed to my own loved ones or simply to “resident,” so someone who needs some cheer can receive it.
  • I can pray. Today I prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet (it’s a Catholic thing) as a means to spiritually adopt someone with Coronavirus who is dying alone.
  • I can volunteer to do telephone reassurance calls with a local charity.
  • I can participate in neighborhood efforts to put hearts or smiley faces on my door so children can count them as the family goes on a walk.
  • I can donated to funds designed to support service workers who have been laid off.
  • I can support small business by placing carry-out or delivery orders or buying gift cards for future use.
  • I can donate food to those food pantries. I can share toilet paper or paper towels or canned goods with someone who needs it.
  • I can be real and honest in my posts on social media, letting down the facade of “she’s got it all together” and saying “I’m scared and frustrated, too.”
  • I can be kind.

I’m going to keep thinking and praying about how I can be a helper, doing some small part each day. Maybe I’ll get to a point where I can step up and do something that scares me, but until then I’ll do what I can to make the world a little less scary for others.

No photo description available.

Photo Credit: Ispirivity


Parenting a high schooler 3.0

When I published my first blog post 10 years ago, I didn’t have a high schooler. My kids were ages 11, 8, and 4. Now, at the writing of this first post of the reboot of my blogging enterprise, I’m preparing to send my youngest to high school in just two short months. And we (my husband Mike and I) are learning all over again.

Our oldest set out for a public charter high school, which was new territory for us. But she was (and still is) independent and capable. She was firmly entrenched in theatre and made friends through that easily. She was a determined student and didn’t cause much worry. When it came time for her brother to go to high school, he chose a Catholic high school — definitely more in my wheelhouse. He is an athlete, so his high school years were filled with conditioning and practices and games. He was a reluctant student, which caused us a lot of angst in his freshman year, but when he put his mind to it (and found he couldn’t play if he didn’t make the grades), he did fine.

Now, it’s our “baby’s” turn to go to high school and I think it’s fair to say that we (Robbie and I) are both kind of terrified at the prospect. Of all three of our kids, Robbie works hardest at school. It doesn’t come easily to him and his years of elementary and middle school were filled with plenty of personalized academic support. He wants to do well and where effort figures into the bulk of the grade, he does. But he learns differently. And he thinks differently. And he approaches life differently. And we are learning how to parent him differently.

The first difference we came upon was when Robbie said he didn’t want to play sports in high school. After four years all-in to high school athletic scene, I wondered “how exactly do you parent a kid who doesn’t want to play sports?” He played CYO sports for most of the years he was able and while not a stellar athlete, he is decent. His hard-working nature serves him well on the field and the court.

“How about you choose a team to work out with for the summer,” I suggested. “That way you can meet people and make friends before school starts.”

It wasn’t a bad idea, but I’ll admit that I was also hoping to “trick” him into deciding to play. But here we are, a month into summer soccer training and he is ready to hang up the cleats.

“Well maybe, you want to give tennis a try?”


“Mr. N. thinks you could be pretty good at football.”

No. I just want to concentrate on school.

How can I argue with that? Plus, I know that he would be overwhelmed with the prospect of practicing or competing five to six days a week. My baby is my homebody. But what does high school look like when you don’t have a dedicated sport or interest (as Annie had theatre)? I guess we are about to find out.

If I’m honest with myself, I know this is about fear. My fear that he won’t fit in, that he won’t have friends. I’m also afraid that I am giving up too easily. Kids need us to push them out of their comfort zones, right?

This part of parenting I know well…discovering when to push and when to back off. Allowing our kids to make their own decisions (with some guidance, of course) and being there to support and re-direct them should those decisions come with unexpected or unwanted consequences.

High school 3.0. Ready or not, here we come.