Thursday, January 23, 2014

Knowing My Limits, Asking For Help


a post from the archives / something worth remembering

When Zeph was born and Dave went back to work, I found myself in an unusual predicament - at home alone, recovering from a c section with a brand new baby. It was disorienting and isolating.  Zeph was an unsettled little dude with reflux while I was an unsettled new mum with anxiety. A cracking combination.

In my life before motherhood I felt I could conquer most things and find a way of being successful in many situations. Since the day I turned 14 and 9 months I had a job, earnt my own money and was pretty social. I had taken pride in my appearance and often indulged in unnecessary spending for, you know, unnecessary consumer goods.

Yet there I was, unemployed and poorly dressed with a crying baby in my arms, a pile of washing on the floor and a scar on my tummy.

Fortunately for me, I was surrounded by my family who were a pillar of support. My mum used to pop in after work with blueberry scones and make me a cup of tea before rocking the baby to sleep. Both of my parents provided a listening ear and a sympathetic hug in times of need. They would do odd jobs around the house and generally help out without my needing to ask.

Yet I remained anxious and all at sea. Being a proud person with a strong independent streak I desperately wanted to to be able to do this parenting gig on my own. I wanted to be able to do it all without any help. In fact, I expected myself to.

Surely only the weak and incompetent would need to rely on others to help them raise their children! Surely this kind of dependency only rendered me useless and inefficient!

Oh, how very wrong I was.

Last week was my hardest week of parenting ever. All 5 of us were sick with Elke refusing to be put down both day and night. Zeph and Pip felt the pinch of a severe reduction in attention while Dave and I struggled to manage their night wakings, bed wettings and temper tantrums whilst being unwell ourselves.

To think that I could've made it through that week without the support of my friends and family is utter insanity. Parenting is a community affair and without even realising it we support one another. Whether it be with a listening ear, a home cooked meal, a hot cup of tea or a sincere offer to sort another mothers washing - we do it together.

The longer I do this parenting thing the more I realise that the job is unconquerable. I'll never get it perfect. I'll never have a super human amount of patience or energy or time. I'll always need help and support and do you know what - if an offer for food, time or a hug is made, i'm right there, saying YES! And if I really need an extra pair of hands, these days I'm bold enough to ask.

There's no shame in asking for help.


It's empowering to know ones limits and respect them.




Tell me, are you comfortable asking for help or does part of you feel like you've failed if you can't get everything done on your own?


42 comments:

  1. You said it!! So true and something I have come to admit myself, as much as my pride would rather not. A friend said to me last week - we are stronger women when we admit the truth and welcome the help - something I'm trying to remember instead of closing the curtains, lol.

    http://hrdmashed.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/my-secret-struggle.html

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  2. I love this post Em. I can relate so very well to all of what you've said. I hid away and tried to do it all with my first two, also thinking I must be weak or a failure if I needed help. I love that you have decided to just say 'yes!' when people offer, and ask for help when you need it. Third time 'round I hope I will have learnt my lesson and do the same. xxx

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  3. I can totally relate too. Silent reflux with Sunny in the first four months was the hardest thing I've ever been through. She just didn't stop screaming. And screaming. And then she got medication. I struggle with asking for 'help' - but I am very lucky to have such a supportive family so close. I think Mothers Groups are AMAZING for girls who may not have family so close...I can honestly say I've made a few friends for life through my local Manly one. Three children though Em? I seriously don't know how you keep this blog going. So impressive! And those kids of yours seem to be living a pretty charmed life. Air punch! x

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  4. Isn't it amazing how proud we are as a race and how asking for help could seem like admitting to defeat! I was the same with my little one and still feel as though that she's my responsibility... I made her after all!

    I admire your strength Em - Three children under 5 is certainly an achievement and you should be mighty proud of yourself! You're doin' good mama!! And don't you ever forget that! No shame in asking for a little help esp when that little help does you and the kidlets a world of good :)

    Hugs to you,
    Sophie xo

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  5. It took me a long time to realise it was okay to ask - almost through a bit of a nervous breakdown - I realised it was okay to say I wasn't okay. Especially in the Christian community I was in.... facades were strong. Now - through the loss of many friends to death - life is too short. We are meant to live in community - we need support. xxxx

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  6. It is a shame that it is so hard to ask for help...I think the first few times are the hardest...and then I have found that it gets easier and easier...you realise that people don't judge and are generally happy to help...if my parents lived closer I would be asking them to help constantly!

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  7. My kids are now 9 and 7 however I remember a few years ago ringing my Mum on the phone and saying "you have to take them for the afternoon and bursting into tears" (didn't help my husband was drinking himself stupid every night until 3am by himself and when he wasn't doing that he was cheating on me but that's another story). Kids are amazing however kids are completing exhausting. Particularly little ones who wake up every night and it's the lack of sleep that makes a mummy or daddy completely want to sit in the corner and rock in the fetal position. Even just 2 hours of quiet time to yourself can do wonders however with 3 little ones and hubby at work that's not possible. Parenting is exhausting that's for sure. I'm so lucky that I have two really good sleepers and they sleep all night but I made sure I had strict bedtime routines and stuck with it. Dinner at 5pm, baths beforehand, a bit of tv, books and lights out by 7pm. That's why girlfriends are great to have a coffee with at the park, get out into the fresh air even just to have a little whinge and offload however if your kids are fed, are clothed and you've had a shower at some stage during the day and maybe put one load of washing on then I say this is a goal and an achievement. Sick kids.........all of that goes out the window. Maybe think about doing your food shopping on line for a couple of months to ellimate one job of shopping with kids. You might have to pay $10 for it to get delivered however worth it in the early months with a newborn. I call that "therapy" ie if you don't spend the $10 on the grocery delivery..later down the track when you go a bit crazy you'll need a therapist. Hang in there and take all offers that come your way. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

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  8. No man is an island, it takes a village and all that. But no, I'm terrible at both asking and accepting, which is stupid. And also, what the bloody hell is up with the sicknesses this week (and last?) Us too. My mum came and magically all the laundry was done and sorted. Love my village.

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  9. I know you're right.
    I tell patients who are struggling the same thing all the time
    But the voice in my head tells me its my problem and that I can deal all by myself - so wrong!

    Hugs and better health to you
    x

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  10. I struggle on my own most of the time, one, because I don't really have anyone else to call on and two, because I am too proud. Seriously why is it so hard to ask for help? Parenting is hard and rewarding and a gift, I just wish that I could get it all right but I can't. Give yourself a break though, your doing a great job. Seasons come and go and you are in a hard season now but a good season will come xx

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  11. I would definitely feel like I was a failure if I asked for help but the sad thing is I have never had anyone to ask! Slight panic sets in if I am sick because it is really hard looking after little ones when you are not well. Other times when I might need some help I just bite the bullet and get on with it as thats all you can do when your kids are relying on you.
    You are so lucky to have your family close by and bravo to you for asking for help.
    Hope you are all feeling much better x

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  12. I hate asking for help but am slowly getting better at it. I feel like I'm putting pressure on people and that it will be too hard to do whatever I'm asking for or that they won't want to help and will feel like they have to. Yet I know I'd feel so honoured if someone rang me in need and asked for a meal or to just talk or for me to pick up milk and drop it off etc. I'd love to help a friend in need. But do others?

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  13. I'm not very good at accepting help when it's offered to me, but I wholeheartedly agree that our children need us to do just that. It takes courage, doesn't it to ask and graciously receive, and it means we have let go of all that ego stuff. x

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  14. I hate asking for help and I hate getting help. My parents would help with almost anything! They regularly offer and all I'd have to say is yes ... But I don't like it one bit. Maybe with kids things will change ...

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  15. Excellent! I found it hard to ask, but it's amazing how much easier it is to ask after one or two practices! Hope things are on their up and up over there! X

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  16. Sounds like a terrible week:( Hope it starts improving soon! Good for you for learning how to ask for help. I haven't gotten there quite yet, but I feel like the time is coming soon. It's encouraging to see others persevere through difficult times and come out ok. Good luck!

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  17. I'm getting better at the asking, but yes a tiny part of me beats myself up over it before I get the courage to ask. Hope everyone is feeling much better in your world. We've had a similar week, and afraid sickness is still lingering here :( xx

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  18. I just wrote a guest post on accepting that it's ok to ask for help and to always accept it when it's offered if you need it. It was the one parenting lesson that was hard for me to accept, but life got so much easier when I did!

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  19. i don't know how you do it either! i'm not sure why but i am more than comfortable asking for help from pretty much anyone... it takes a village :) x

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  20. I'm not a mum yet, but we should be welcoming home bubba in a month or so!!! Thank you for your honesty, it is helping me to be more realistic about my abilities and has inspired me to work on my independence issues. God bless xxx

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  21. I have the same unrealistic expectation of myself- I really do think that somehow I should be perfect... But I also know I'm not and need help... Most of my parenting life has been done without grandparents around which is difficult; so many times I know that dropping my kids off at Mum's for an afternoon would just make everything ok. Embrace that wholeheartedly Em! It's a gift to others as well to be able to help you, people love helping people x

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  22. Em, you know our stories are so similar.

    With 3 kids under 5, I often struggle just leaving the house with the kids. Some nights right after dinner, I literally flop on the couch with exhaustion.

    My family aren't the biggest help. My inlaws are useless, have literally seen my new baby 3 times in her 6 months of life so far.

    My parents frequently travel and are busy with their own lives. And I find myself, reaching out to friends who have been invaluable. My best friend is a treasure. She is about to have her 2nd child and I can't wait to pay her back with help, meals and a shoulder to lean on.

    I had 3 c-sections too and was up and driving within 2 weeks after all of them. Not because I wanted to, but because I had too. So many times I asked for help, and was refused. It made me realise, sometimes you just have to do things on your own. But then pat yourself on the back when you do.

    That's why us women have the babies. We are so strong and resilient.

    Shame we don't live closer ;)

    xx

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  23. HI Em. I hear you sister! That post really resonated with me, asking for help isn't something I do well. I am just now (since our third babe and no grandparent support) able to accept help when it is offered... I can hear myself starting to say 'oh thanks but no.." and I change it into 'Oh thanks..yes'.

    Its a shame it has taken me so long to work that out, it might have made life a little easier. I am good at offering help to others and I am getting better at accepting, and slowly ok about asking for help too.

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  24. Asking for help is humbling and at the same time it helps you know yourself better as you recognize your strengths and weakness. When I had my newborn baby, I too was a struggling first-time mom. But I tell you, things will really get better. I too am an independent woman and wants things done on my own with little or no help from other people. But I just realized that there are times when we just have to slow down and accept all the help we can get and be thankful for it. God bless you and your family.

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  25. Oh yes it is good to ask for help and it is a relief when you get it,parneting is the hardest job in the whole world and it never ends my children are nearly 25 and 23 and they still need stuff at times,hang in there sweets it will get better,and then worse again just take it day by day xx
    Lisa Mckenzie

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  26. Absolutely. Parenting IS unconquerable and that revelation is enough to give any new mother anxiety. I have two under 2.5 and no family support where I live. It's just me, all the time, just me. Husband works 100km away and long hours. I have asked friends for help in the past but they have always been too busy with their own families so now I just don't ask. I just plod along until I (literally sometimes) collapse. I don't feel so much a failure to my husband but more so to myself. In this day and age of social media there is so much pressure put on mothers to perform. I just have to remind myself sometimes that behind an amazingly perfect Pinterest board is a mother in her PJ's sobbing into a cold cup of coffee. Thank you for being honest about how shitty and hard it is sometimes. I hope you are all better now.

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  27. I come from a "you made your bed, now lie in it" family, so asking for help has never been easy and not always given when asked for. The other issue and probably the most daunting one after my hubby died, was not knowing what 'help' I needed. Lots of offers of "give me a call if you need anything" but I had no idea of what to ask for, it was all so overwhelming doing it on my own with two kids. But life has taught me well... I am the first to bring over a meal, wash dishes, fold laundry, put on a cuppa or just hold a crying babe to give mum a rest. It feels good to be able to help someone in need, so now when I ask for help, I don't think of it as a failure, but as an opportunity to allow someone to feel good! I think somewhere along the way we forgot that we are all in this together

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    1. You sound like an amazing friend. I am so sorry for your loss.

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  28. Oh, I wish people would realise what you have come to know as they wouldn't be judgmental and instead would lend a hand and be an encouragement!

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  29. I am so blessed to live in a place where I have never needed to ask for help. After número UNO (also the screaming reflux variety with an anxious pants mama, ahem) I was too proud to ask anyone for help and lived bouncing on a fit ball and forgetting to eat most days. Yuck. This time I know more helpful people than I knew existed in the world. Like I said, I don't even need to ask anymore.
    I am at the other end of the world from my family and oldest friends but live in a community of souls brimming with warm cooked meals and arms wanting to hold your babies. It is a great place to be. Help is always just around the corner. After all 4 of us ill in the past few weeks imagining adding another to the mix makes me shiver. Go you. Xx

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  30. THis is such a timely and honest post, thank you!

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  31. It is a miracle that hubby and I have always "taken turns" being sick, so someone was always on their feet to deal with the kids. We lived far from family and were new in our community. As a registered nurse, I had the conviction it was up to me to do it all. I so clearly remember looking across the street with unutterable longing, feeling so alone and forgotten. The neighbour was having a tea party. There I was, home with three little ones, swamped in dirty dishes, diapers and croup. There was no one to ask for help. Somehow, we survived and grew up. Now my kids have little ones of their own. Here's hoping you all get healthy again soon. Praise the Lord you have found help! :)

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  32. Hi Emily, I reckon asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness. Hope your little family is on the mend soon.

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  33. i rang mum and dad on day 4 of our little man's life to give them an update on his jaundice. Ended up bawling my eyes out and couldnt even talk. Mum immediately asked if we wanted them to come and stay. Husband was worried that we failed but they were just THE best help. I wish they were here all the time (now that my washing basket is full again - sigh)

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  34. The latter. Definitely the latter. I need to learn how to ask for help, and how to accept it without feeling like I'm a terrible mother. I'm stubborn to a fault. I can see that trait in one of my 4 yr old twins - he never lets anyone help him and insists on doing everything himself - even things he's not capable of. It's made me see myself through a new lens, and I'm working on it. working working working....

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  35. We have to join forces us mums and admit when we are at witts end. Nothing is ever perfect , we need to all know that and help each other. love this post! CAss
    www.liveitdoit.com.au

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  36. you are so blessed to have so much support! i'm jealous! my husband and i have been married seven years and just welcomed our third baby into the family 2 weeks ago. both sets of our parents live far away and aren't very involved with us or the kids. no one came to visit this birth. one set of parents haven't even called since the birth! it's been insanely stressful trying to make a new "normal" (that doesn't feel normal at all) while feeling alone. we thank God for friends He has blessed us with here who have pitched in where they can, but it's not the same as being surrounded by family. parenthood is hard!

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  37. Parenting is tough no matter what age the children are. Good on you for ask g for help and accepting it. You are so lucky that you have family around you to support you when needed. We all need to have time out as well. Hope next week is better for you. Always remember you are doing the best you can and that is always good enough. Hugs. Vicki

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  38. Thanks for sharing your story. I also remember those months of anxiety and constant internal questioning. Unfortunately we haven't had a huge amount of family/friend assistance due to relocating to a new area and not knowing anyone, but I must admit we are blessed with the family and friends we do have. Asking for help has also been a difficult task for me, but that all had to change when our little one arrived - having been career driven it was such an overwhelming experience looking after this little person. As the years have gone by, it has gotten a lot easier - not that I will be doing again though

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  39. We really have no one to ask for help. My mum passed away when my first born was 6 months old and was dying over a brain tumour before then. My dad has a new women who are constantly are on holidays and have no time for us and my mother in law says she has raised her kids.
    Even if I needed help I dont think I could find a willing participate to help me. Lucky my husband is amazing in every way.

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  40. First time commented here! I only recently came across your blog. I really love your honesty and vulnerability lately. It's refreshing. I suffer from anxiety at times and I have a terrible time asking for help. I feel like a total failure if I can't do everything myself and everything must be done perfectly, too. I'm slowly learning to let go and go more easily on myself. I have a 15 month old and number 2 due in Aug. Just hearing others talk about these struggles makes it easier to deal with. Thank you

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  41. There is no job description that comes with being a parent, nor a handbook with answers to the many questions that will continue for the entire time of being a parent. Mostly you go with your gut feeling and instinct or ask advise from fellow parents. There is no shame in asking for help when you find you need it, you are not given a cape or any super powers when you have children! I think you are doing a fabulous job and being able to talk about it here must be helpful. I am 52 and new to blogging and this would have been so supportive for me when my lads were small. They are 19 and 21 and although independent they still seek the advise from mother! Just remember you do not have to be excellent at everything and that the best part about today is there is always tomorrow.

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Thanks so much for your words of encouragement, advice and solidarity.

xo em