When I was younger, I always imagined being a mother. I thought it would be a lot of cookie baking, hugging, and doing craft projects. Cute, right? I mean, how disillusioned was I?
As I got older, I wasn’t so sure if I wanted to be a parent. Matt and I really contemplated this fact and spent 6 years of our marriage making sure it was the right decision for us. We didn’t take it lightly. We emailed friends and often asked them why they chose to have kids. (I think we may have freaked them out a bit.)
When we finally had a baby I was so overwhelmed. I’m sure my 36 hours of induced labor that turned into a c-section to an IUGR (intrauterine growth retardation, aka slow growing) baby was partly to blame. She didn’t nurse, my milk didn’t come in for 5 days, and she didn’t sleep. Motherhood started off terribly.
I was not impressed.
Over the next 3 years we went on to have 2 more daughters. My husband worked 90 hours a week and I battled postpartum mood disorders. Most days I felt like I was drowning and out of control. I wondered what I had gotten myself into. Did we make a mistake? During this time there was one thing that always empowered me and made me feel like I could handle anything. It was when a mom who was a few years ahead of me in this game asked me this one question:
What can I do to help?
Parents sometimes get so overwhelmed they don’t even know what to ask for or how you can help. If you find yourself in that situation, I always start with food. Everyone needs to eat and everyone likes having someone else worry about dinner every now and then. You can make a meal or give them a gift card to a local pizza place or restaurant. Even a box of store bought cookies in a mailbox can turn someone’s day around. Sometimes just asking a parent if they need help is enough to make them feel more in control. But please don’t ask without the intention of helping.
If you don’t have time or energy to help someone else right now, that is okay. One day you will. For now, take care of yourself because THAT is important. However, if you are in a good place, ask what you can do to help and then DO it! Follow through is important here.
Now I work hard on being the village for other moms. I always start with that one question and it’s a question I think everyone should ask a parent.
Imagine in your worst days as a parent if someone had said these words to you. How would they make you feel? Help is hard for people to ask for but receiving it makes all the difference.
Be the lighthouse for someone else.
Be the village.
How can you help someone else this week? How could someone help you?
Click to read how you can be the village you want to have
Click to read how much your first mom friends can make a difference
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Sarah Elizabeth says
Loving this. I, too, have always dreamed of becoming a mother. But I'm 27 now. And scared. Luckily we're not ready yet financially, but I'm sure I'll be fine when the time comes. Great post!
27 is a great age to start having children!