The Mother’s Hardest Word: “Help” – by Colleen Lindstrom
It’s 4 am, you have had a grand total of 2 hours of sleep (broken up in 15 minute increments), your little baby seems to think it’s an acceptable time to be up for a party, and you know you somehow have to have enough energy to keep up with your four year old in about two hours when he wakes up. This isn’t how you pictured motherhood, is it? Then, by 10:00, you are having your first breakdown of the day (which you are counting as a minor success based on how tired you are). Your friends all tell you that you seem to have the whole parenting thing down to a science, and they have no idea how you do it. The secret you’re keeping is this: You don’t know how you’re doing it either, or IF you’re doing it.
You feel the word tickling your mouth, but you won’t dare say it, right? Because saying that word might indicate that you can’t do this, and God knows you worked very hard to have all of this. You need to figure out how to do it all by yourself without saying that word to anyone. But you aren’t quite sure you are going to be able to make it until 5 o’clock (when your spouse comes home) without saying that word. So, to nobody in particular, you whisper the word, just hoping that if you say it, someone will appear… “help.”
“Help” is the hardest word to say for a mother, but also the word we never regret using. Our culture has turned into what I call “the Toddler Culture.” “I’ll do it all by myself.” We have tricked ourselves into believing somehow that if we ask for help, we are surrendering our ability to do things. When in fact, when we ask for help we honor ourselves, our children, and the people who we ask for help from. People don’t know you need help unless you tell them you do. This feels like an awkward position, but consider this: If you knew someone was struggling, you would help them, right? You wouldn’t judge them, right? You would do the right thing, and lend a hand.
Start small, ask your spouse to assist you with one more morning task, ask your children to give you 3 minutes of quiet, ask your neighbor to help you carry something in from the car. “Help” builds community. “Help” says that we live in a world where people care for each other. “Help” says “I need to be cared for, and I am worth it.” … and you are worth it.