This week has brought to the forefront my need for assistance. I rely heavily upon my husband for so many things that when he is absent my world gets turned upside down. I’ve been in a partnership (a wonderfully enriching and fulfilling partnership) for so long that I feel lost when faced with a crisis alone.
I’ve also noticed in the past 16 years how my independence has declined drastically. I used to be fearless and completely self-sufficient. So, while I’ve struggled to get back some of my fearless nature, I also relish being secure enough to ask for help. Hopefully, you will learn the value of dependence now that you are a parent.
I wrote a little about the importance of giving and receiving recently in the post about 29 Gifts. It brought up the bigger issue for me of being truly receptive to the gifts of others. Learning to ask for help is a difficult lesson for many people, myself included. If you’re in the first few months or years of motherhood, asking and receiving will become essential.
During your first few weeks as a new mom, you may get offers of help from many different sources. It’s tempting to politely say no simply because it’s easier than coming up with a task for them. Get into the habit of saying “YES” to offers of help, because the offers may stop just when you need them most. (And let me tell you, they stop all together once you’re the mother of three or more children!)
Five specific things you can ask for:
- Invite someone to visit for an hour or two. During this time you can shower, take a long nap or just spend a little time in the sunshine by yourself. Or, you can relish the company of another adult.
- Request help with some household chores. Maybe you would like for someone to vacuum your house or do a load of laundry. Just ask. I promise that someone loves you enough to do this small act of kindness for you. When I was enormously pregnant with our third child, I sheepishly asked my mother-in-law to mop our filthy floors in the house we had just purchased. She was happy to do it. All she wanted to know was what I needed help with.
- Ask for a meal. Don’t beat around the bush, either. Vague statements like “I wish someone would cook for me” may come off the wrong way. But if someone close to you asks what they can do for you, ask for a meal. Some of our friends have brought over gourmet dinners they made themselves, while others picked up our favorite carryout foods.
- Ask for advice. Oh, I know. Becoming a mother makes you a target for unsolicited advice. But, when you have a moment alone or on the phone with a more experienced mom, ask her about something you’re struggling with. You just may be surprised to learn a new technique or be comforted in knowing that they struggled, too. When my firstborn was a few weeks old and refused to nap in her bed or anywhere else but my shoulder, my mom commented that it was easier when we were babies because my brother, sister and I all slept on our stomachs. That idea is so taboo now that it never occurred to me. I ended up propping my daughter on her side and she suddenly started napping on her own.
- Ask for prayers. A few years ago, I would have rolled my eyes at this. Now, I have a deeper understanding of the power of prayer. Whatever your world view may be, there is strength in numbers, and the more prayers offered up for you, the better. I am Christian, and my good friend is Jewish. We often exchange prayers for each other or celebrate the Sabbath together. For us, we find peace and comfort in honoring our similarities.
As I write this, my two-year-old has spiked another fever and is complaining of her first earache. She is sleeping on my lap while I balance the keyboard precariously on one knee. My husband is stuck in an airport for the third straight day and the roads are an icy mess, making the possibility of school a long shot again tomorrow.
But, my neighbors graciously offered to bring us lunch and the older girls are doing a pretty good job of cleaning up the toys. So, while I’m always open to advice and comments from my readers, I would probably benefit more from a few prayers today. Please?
Grace and peace.