As a young mom, I found myself sitting alone in church with my two daughters, a 2-year-old and a 4-month-old. My husband had been asked to serve in a position that requires him to sit at the front of the congregation. Upon being asked that he serve, I decided I was going to prove to myself that I was a “champion mom.” I could balance a busy toddler and a hungry infant during church all alone. In the process of proving that to myself, people would applaud me for handling it all by myself.
Many kind friends and fellow church goers often offered their help. Some offered to sit with my oldest while I went out to nurse the baby. Others offered to hold the baby while I took my older one to the bathroom. Although deep inside I knew it would lift my burden, I had a point to prove to myself. I didn’t want to appear weak, like I needed their help.
Three years had passed, and I was still sitting alone. This time with a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old and another new baby girl. I still had a point to prove, only more so this time. Not only could I handle two little ones alone, but watch me now as I handle three!
Then reality began to set in. All at once, the baby would get hungry, the toddler wanted a snack and the 5-year-old wanted to trace my hand onto a sheet of crayon covered paper. On one particular occasion, I got the baby ready to leave for the mother’s room to nurse, whispered to the toddler to follow, then instructed my 5-year-old to stay put. Surely, she could sit alone and quiet for fifteen minutes, right? As I traipsed down the hall, I looked behind me to see not only the toddler but my oldest in tow. There we all sat in the mother’s room, me in the recliner with the baby in my arms and the other two on the floor, bored out of their minds.
Then it dawned on me. If I was to take someone up on their offer to help me out, would I really lose all credibility with my friends and fellow worshipers? Surely they wouldn’t think I had lost all control because I couldn’t do it all and at the same time.
Right then and there I decided to change my ways. I started strategically sitting near friends or families with pre-teen girls who loved any opportunity to sit with a child to color for a few minutes or pass out snacks. As soon as that happened, it was like magic. Suddenly, I felt less stress and my kids were happy and more calm because everyone’s needs were being met–not necessarily by me, but by a willing person who could give more in that moment than I could.
My children are older now and don’t need much in the way of that same attention. Instead, it is our turn to look for opportunities to reach out to others who might be needing an extra set of hands.
As mothers, we sometimes put so much pressure on our own shoulders to appear as though we have it all together. We want to appear as if we can keep it all under control while on the inside we are screaming for a little help. Sometimes that help has already been offered, but we turned it down in order to maintain a facade.
Imagine your day if you took that friend up on her offer to keep your kids while you run your errands. Imagine if you allowed the neighbor to bring you dinner when you are feeling under the weather or if you let another carpooling mom pick up your kids on a day that you are feeling especially overwhelmed.
It took me three years to learn this lesson the hard way, and I’m hoping you won’t make the same mistake I did. Don’t be afraid to say yes to the offer of another. If they can and are willing to help, take them up on it! Try to alleviate some of the pressure you feel to have it all together.
After all, aren’t we all in this together?
QUESTION: Do you ever find yourself in a situation when someone is offering help and your mouth is saying no but your heart and mind are screaming yes?
CHALLENGE: Let yourself say yes to the offers of others once in awhile, and see how it alleviates some of the pressure you feel.
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