Recently, I read an article stating that America is actually one of the few cultures in the world that tends to rear families tightly within their nuclear unit. In many other cultures several generations live in the same house, or at the very most, within a stone’s throw. However, I have noticed more American women referring to their group of friends and family members as their “tribe,” which led me to wonder why we often feel that we need to “do” motherhood alone, if, indeed, we have a “tribe” of close friends and family nearby.
For me, the answer is obvious. I tell my four year old that it is okay to ask for help, that she doesn’t have to do everything herself and then almost simultaneously tell my husband, “I got it” while struggling to bring in groceries, a baby and keep a muddy dog out of the house. I am notorious for taking on too much, refusing help from anyone, and mothering is no different. The thought of having to depend on someone else to do my job unnerves me and makes me feel inadequate. I am not sure when it started, but I have long equated asking for help with weakness. Don’t get me wrong, I am the first to step up when others need help, without thinking the same about them, so why do I judge myself in this manner? The reason is PRIDE, and like it says in Proverbs, my fall was coming.
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18
We all know motherhood is difficult, and in my opinion, it is especially challenging the first few weeks after giving birth. While trying to physically recover, new mothers experience a whirlwind of emotions, sleep deprivation and mental exhaustion. Nevertheless, after delivering my second baby, I mistakenly assumed that it wasn’t necessary for me to stay another night in the hospital by telling myself, “I’ve got this, so I am going to go ahead and go home.” Although my mother was there to help, I assured her that I was feeling fine and proceeded to clean house and make dinner about forty-eight hours after giving birth. Needless to say, a few days later I found myself running a fever, in total pain, barely able to take care of my newborn, not to mention my older child or myself. Then I heard the same words that I so often spoke to my self-sufficient little one, “It is okay; you do not have to do this alone because I am here to help.” I couldn’t continue without help and by that time, was ready to receive it.
Momma, you do not have to carry the weight of motherhood on your own. It does not make you a weak person or less of a mother because you receive assistance. I still struggle when my girls go to their grandparents’ house because I would hate for it to seem like I was shirking my parental responsibilities by shoving my children off on their grandparents. Let me tell ya somethin’, some of my favorite childhood memories were at my grandparents’ house. There were also friends’ mothers and mentors whose company I equally enjoyed growing up, and my mother was thankful for all of these women taking time to be with me, not to mention that she enjoyed a break. So if I know these experiences helped shape me in positive ways, why do I hesitate for my children to learn from and to be loved by my family and close friends? Insecurity, perhaps?
After some soul-searching, I realized that I was jealous and worried. Worried that maybe my girls would love their grandparents more than me — how futile! Yet, the fact that Abigail reaches for another woman at our church to console her when she is crying bothers me, too. Instead of thanking God that there are people in my life who adore my girls and want to spend time with them, I allow Satan to make me feel like I am a bad mother for leaving them in someone else’s care. To put it another way, the deceiver wants me to believe that they might prefer to be with someone else instead of me if I share them with others, ultimately making my job obsolete.
To conclude, God has provided my family with numerous close friends and extended family members, and most of them live nearby, an added blessing. For most of us, our parents were our primary caregivers and the greatest influence in our lives, but no doubt, you can think of others who were also special and important to you. Do not let Satan rob you or your children of the joy these special relationships offer — receive them with thanksgiving and enjoy the break they afford you. Don’t be too proud to accept help from time to time; it does not make you a poor excuse of a mother because you need a few hours to yourself or simply wish to spend some uninterrupted time with your husband. (Trust me, Satan really does not want you to give time to your marriage.) God did not make us to live this life in isolation and totally independent of others. The Bible speaks often about the benefits of living in community. Thus said, next time your mother-in-law asks to keep the kids, gladly take her up on it, WITHOUT GUILT, and ask if you should prepare a backpack or a SUITCASE!
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear;I will help you. Isaiah 41:13
Real Life Hacks:
- If someone offers to cook your family a meal or watch your children, accept it because if they did not want to do so, they would not offer.
- Set up a child-sitting circle with friends. You watch the kids for two hours, then the next time it is your friend’s turn. That way every mother gets a break.
- Ask your husband for help, giving him specific tasks that he can take off your plate. Men like to have direction, and it will give you peace of mind.
- If possible, let your children stay with friends or family for a few days. When we do not get enough sleep, we get irritable, run-down and sick, and everyone knows that mothers can’t get sick, ever!
- Find a good group of friends for play-dates or outings. Remember kids entertain each other, so sometimes just having someone else around provides a much needed break.