As a PEPS leader and fellow mom of two young kids, I’m regularly impressed by the many things – big and small – that I see parents achieving, surviving, juggling, conquering and figuring out day by day, riding this tidal wave that is parenthood. The sleep, the food fights, the bottle battles, nursing strikes, potty training, sibling rivalry, remembering to make time for your marriage… this parenting stuff is HARD, and the curve balls keep on coming.
I’m impressed by one mom’s ability to maneuver a double stroller through a Starbucks door, coffee in hand, and another’s gift for calming a screaming toddler in the Target toy aisle.
I’m blown away by the mom who manages to get by on little sleep, still be present with her kids when they demand make-believe stories, and have any kind of dinner on the table that evening.
But there’s one thing I’m MOST impressed by, a trait that I perhaps value above all others in new moms (or any mom or dad, for that matter).
So what is this crème de la crème, superhero strength that so overcomes me with pride and joy whenever I witness it?
It’s simply this: The ability to ASK FOR HELP.
There is nothing that strikes me as braver or wiser or more admirable than a parent who knows when enough is enough and sends out a signal for help – A text! A call! A smoke signal! An emergency PEPS meeting! S.O.S. written in onesies!
I think I find this concept of asking for help so striking because it is both so easy, yet so hard for so many. So often a last resort instead of a first step. One of the few acts in life that is equally fulfilling for the giver and the receiver. So incredibly invaluable, this proverbial “S.O.S.,” yet so tragically underused within the notoriously isolating world of new parenthood.
So what does asking for help LOOK like? I happen to have three examples from dear moms in my life, who have uber-impressed me by their simple yet profound calls for help in recent months.
STORY #1 – A friend of mine popped up in my Facebook feed one day, with a post that essentially just said, without mincing words, “Will one of my friends please bring me dinner tonight?” Never have I seen a request for dinner (often offered, rarely asked for!), so blatantly and vulnerably laid out on the table for all to see. Why don’t we do this more? Why are we so afraid of letting our needs be known? Why is it so hard to let those in our life know the true desires of our hearts, the little wish lists for our homes? Immediately a fellow PEPS mom replied to the post with an offer to bring a meal. I’m willing to bet it was a highlight of both of their weeks, and an interaction that inspired many others. I felt so proud to know them both. This is what community should look like.
STORY #2 – As a PEPS leader, it’s typically not my plan to break into tears in the middle of Highs and Lows and struggle to find my voice as I latch onto a “teachable moment” gleaned from a tender insight into someone’s life. But this is exactly what I did recently when one group member opened up about finally hiring a little in-home help after a long period of feeling isolated, exhausted and tethered to her baby’s demanding routine. She described a very low week emotionally, and the ultimate decision to ask for, and accept some much-needed, much-deserved HELP. My voice wavering and my face in full on “ugly cry” mode, I said to this woman, in front of our entire group, “I am SO proud of you. I want to give you a standing ovation right now. I wish everyone would reach out and ask someone for help like you did.”
STORY #3 – Another friend with a new baby and a toddler was feeling anxious and overwhelmed by the thought of being sleep-deprived and home alone all day with both kids when her husband went back to work. She reached out to her mom and mother-in-law who both live across the country, and they both happily agreed to fly out and help with the family over the next month. All it took was a phone call and she found people who loved her, loved her kids, and were happy to be wanted and needed in their lives. This friend and her family were able to receive help for two solid months, relieving so much stress and allowing her to rest, slow down and better focus on her kids. All it took was a phone call.
I’ve had friends and moms I know from PEPS who’ve reached out to me for therapist referrals, sleep coach recommendations, babysitter leads and more. It makes me so happy to hear people asking for help. It’s good for the giver, it’s good for the receiver, and it’s good for those sweet babies who deserve healthy, rested, supported parents who aren’t stretched to their breaking point. So the next time someone offers you help, please take it. And the next time someone doesn’t offer you help, please don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and ask for it yourself. We’re all better for it.
About the Author
Seattle native Beth Morris is a PEPS Newborn Group Leader, writer for this blog and her own (writeasrainblog.com) and stay-at-home mom to her two sons, Anderson and Jude. She enjoys salty margaritas and can sing a mean Shania Twain karaoke cover (definitely in that order), and wishes life were more like the TV show Friday Night Lights.