Mommyhood has knocked me over again with an important life lesson: asking and accepting help.
Oh the dreaded four letter word, the word that when said it seems almost like one has failed, or maybe that one isn’t able to manage and meet expectations, I’m talking about the four letter word HELP. I’ve been reflecting on this word the last few days, mostly because I found myself in a situation where I had to, can you guess, gasp…ask for help.
Just for a brief background on how I found myself in this situation… I’m a mommy of 2 little ones and actually just gave birth about 4 months ago to my second babe. The wee one in the house does not sleep more than 2-3 hour stretches at night and top it off with nights where my toddler also wakes and needs a little help to resettle – although these four months equals what seemed like an eternity of interrupted sleep. I had created the perfect storm – complete exhaustion, stress, and not feeling well.
Like many moms do, I put my health on the back burner and kept on truckin’ with life making everything and everyone else a priority. Well, that came to a screeching halt when I had a scary episode with my health and my body literally shut down within two hours. I ached and felt paralysis from head to toe (I am under a physician’s care to find out why this happened) and I found myself in a situation where I absolutely needed help. I needed my husband’s help and my close family members help. Wow, what a humbling place to be and if it was only as simple as pressing a help button!
I have slowly altered my thinking about accepting help. It wasn’t a conscious behavior before to deny help, it’s just that I was managing and did not want to impose on anyone and honestly, I didn’t know what help I needed. But now, yet again, motherhood has taught me a life lesson – I need to slow down and reduce the pressure on myself to be superwoman.
So, when my mother in law offers to come by, I will gladly accept the offer and use that time to run an errand or two. It’s a win-win situation, I avoid lugging the little ones out and grandma gets to spend some time with her grandkids. I understand it is way more important for me to be healthy and not just surviving for my kids and if that means accepting help, then that’s ok with me. My babies are more important to me than anything and in the hours when I was physically unable to care for them, that was way harder to swallow than accepting help.
Now this is a work in progress, but I’m realizing just like it is ok to accept help, it’s also ok to ask for help. We’ve heard the saying it takes a village but often times mommy becomes the village and we don’t ask for help. Let me assure you, asking for help is not surrendering, it’s actually creating a healthier household. In a moment’s notice, I’ve reached out to my mom for help and she wholeheartedly, no strings attached does everything in her power to help me and my family.
Now that I’ve taken the time to reflect, I realize most of us would do the same for our children and not think anything of it, so why is it so hard to ask? Asking for help reduces stress and I have seen a less stressed momma equals less stressed kiddos (and hubby). We teach our children to ask for help and honestly what better way to teach than to show them. Today alone, my toddler has said, “mommy help me” more times than I can count and each time he asks, I respond and the world keeps spinning, so maybe I have a lesson to learn from him.
My family is beyond blessed to have relatives close by and when we need help, help is extended to us. I know that is not the same for all so I’m also reminded that motherhood unites us and I can be there for other moms I know. Going forward, I will try not to casually say “let me know if I can I help?” because like myself, my friend may be managing and not know what she needs or how to ask but I think it will be more useful to be more specific with my extension of help.
Ways to Be Helpful
- Invite their child/children over for a play date – specifically, give the mom permission to go and rest or run errands while the kids play
- Offer to pick items up at the store – seems less inconvenient to say “I’m at Target,what can I pick up for you?”
- Drop off a meal/snacks
- Be available to talk
- Ask to help with anything on a to do list, “What can I do? I want to be useful.”
- Help with the night shift
- Send a heartfelt thinking of you text/phone call
- Be understanding of someone’s unavailability – personally, I feel extra stress/guilt having to explain why I’m not able to attend an outing or talk.
It is definitely easier said than done but try to remember a happy momma equals a happier family.