Becoming Infrastructure

It is not a new experience for me to encounter a gap and then to bridge it with my own efforts. I’ve been doing this sort of work for decades. I’ve done it for my young children, creating learning activities and enrichment when the school wasn’t quite meeting their needs. I’ve done it for our business when I solved fulfillment challenges by hand sorting file boxes of invoices to match them to postage in the era before all the click-and-go shipping software was available. I’ve done it at church where I run the Sunday streams for people who need to stay at home. I’ve done it for conferences and events. I’ve done it for friends and family. In fact it is hard for me to stop myself from bridging a gap once I know it is there and can see how my skills can make crossing possible.

It is one thing to throw myself across a gap which only needs to be crossed once or for a limited time. It is an entirely different experience to become a bridge which gets constant traffic and needs regular effort or maintenance. I’ve done both. In fact the job of parent is to turn oneself into infrastructure to support the growth and development of immature human beings. This is why it takes a village to raise a child, because being infrastructure is exhausting work and we have to lean on each other to accomplish it. I’m now at the far end of parenting where most of my parental duty is to stand off to the side out of their way, but still available as a resource. I’m still infrastructure for my non-driving children, but even that era is coming to an end as we’re close to getting a couple of driver’s licenses. I’m also infrastructure for my household as I handle a large portion of the resource management and grocery shopping.

One of the things that I have learned from being the support structure for others so often is to be cautious about the support roles I volunteer for and to immediately set out to make it so that the support role can be handed off to another person if I need to step out of the job. Yes I’ll take on church streaming, but once I’ve problem solved the stream itself I will set about creating a set of instructions and training several people on how to do the job. If bridging the gap is important enough that I’m willing to turn myself into a bridge, then I want to make sure that I’m not a single point of failure. Instead I want to participate in the construction of a solid bridge that will last long after I’ve stepped away.