It takes a village to raise a child – it always has, it always will.

Parents can often feel very alone in the process of raising children, and to a certain degree there is validity to those claims. An increasingly globalized world means we often don’t live close to family members (my own family lives three time zones away from the nearest grandparents), and in some cases we don’t even get along with family members nearby. It can be easy to forget how much help we truly have around us – I’ve certainly fallen into this trap.

On a daily basis, I rely on the help of many people who likely see themselves as doing nothing extraordinary, but to me it can feel pretty monumentally helpful. These people are my everyday heroes – you may even be one of them:

1. The grocery cart swipers.

These are the folks who, while walking through the parking lot on their way into the grocery store, notice the struggle bus that is me trying to load two children back into car seats, and ask if they can take my cart. What kind of angel are you, dear stranger? Yes, YES! What a win – you get a cart, I get to schlep my kids and groceries home about 30 seconds earlier – a 30 seconds that might make all the difference today in my maintenance of sanity. Bonus points if these are the same people who offer their empty carts to a just-arrived parent and their crew.

2. The meal bringers.

Whether it’s because we have a new baby or our family has the latest case of feels-like-death illness, these are my chicken-soup people. They know that food might as well be a love language, and may or may not know the weight lifted in not having to figure out the next meal to feed my family. They know it doesn’t have to be fancy or even homemade to communicate solidarity and warmth.

3. The caretakers.

The people who watch my kids on occasion – the older women at the Parents Morning Out events at local churches, babysitters, fellow friends. My village. Even if I’m paying $10 per kid for three to four hours (side note: so cheap!) this much-craved alone time is the time I look forward to so much. One of our local churches has a weekly parents morning out on Wednesday mornings, and it became so popular that the sign-up list fills up within an hour of being opened. The poor church secretary – also a hero of mine.

4. The February Christmas light take-down crew.

People who see a need you had overlooked and offer to fix it for you. I know some folks might take offense to being offered help with something like this. Like – should I be ashamed that someone noticed my Christmas lights are still up? My advice to you: lay down thy pride, sisters and brothers. There is nothing like the swallowing of pride that happens as a parent to young children. Had they not offered, it is entirely possible those lights would have remained up until June. Or December. Whatever.

5. The baby holders.

This one may not seem so monumental to some. Hold a baby? Who wouldn’t want to hold a baby? Well, some of us are not natural baby holders, a fact which as a new mom I tried to be painstakingly aware of. I usually never asked people to hold my baby because, well, what if they didn’t want to? Maybe now I’d just put them in the awkward position of having to choose to hold a baby they didn’t want to or telling the mother of that baby that they didn’t want to hold that baby. How do you tell a woman you don’t want to hold her precious angel baby?! I digress.

Especially as a new parent, the drastic change going from no baby in arms to baby in arms nearly 24/7 is hard. It was such a welcome reprieve when people would offer to hold my baby. Bonus points for the people who offer to hold my baby while I eat. Just…yes. Food is so much more enjoyable when not also dedicating 90% of my arms to keeping my baby’s head upright.

6. The binky/blanket/comfort item rescuers.

You people. You people. So detail oriented. And it paid off when you saw my daughter’s binky drop from the diaper bag as we loaded her in the car. You have no idea, probably, but you just prevented a minor catastrophe. If I wasn’t currently covered in dried apple sauce, Goldfish crumbs and drool, I might hug you right now. Instead, I salute you, hero of the hour.

7. The door openers. The ones who hear us coming long before they see us coming.

They may chuckle as they hold the door open, may say something like “I remember those days” or “looks like you have your hands full” (fact!), but the simple gesture of helping us through the doorway without my having to awkwardly hold the door open with a combination of my hands/hips/derriere is just so kind. Thank. you.

8. The believers in flexible bathroom lines.

When my daughter was potty training and I was 8 or so months pregnant with my son, we must have made a scene nearly every time we hustled into public bathrooms hoping to find at least one empty stall (and, being so pregnant, I crossed my fingers every time that it would please, please be the handicapped stall). My daughter’s cries of “potty! potty!” likely helped our case, but it was always such a relief to be motioned in front of the one or two people who may have been waiting in line, avoiding a disaster. Thank you, restroom heroes.

9. Fellow generous trench parents.

The other parents of young kids in the trenches with me, usually, who believe strongly in the golden rule and have plenty of baby wipes and snacks to share with me and my crew when we find ourselves empty-handed. I’ve worked out enough of a routine that I’m usually on the giving end of this arrangement now, but particularly early on in the transition from one to two kids, I often found myself on the receiving end. I’d forgotten to replenish the wipe pack in the diaper bag, or we made it out of the house sans snacks. On occasion, I’d realize to my horror that I’d even forgotten a diaper as I prepared to change my son’s blowout. When in these situations, being surrounded by other parents of young children is the best place to be – they totally have you covered.

10. The smilers.

I’m trying to bring my children up in a world that can be pretty scary at times. It’s not easy figuring out how to explain certain things in a way they’ll understand and in a way that won’t freak them out about the world of which they are a part. It’s always great to encounter the smile heroes who make them feel like the delights that they usually are, who share in my delight as a parent, who keep me encouraged about what the world can look like when we are for each other.

Who are the everyday heroes you have encountered as a young parent?