I’m probably not alone in this phenomenon: I have a hard time accepting help. And an even harder time asking for help. I guess I like to think I’m superwoman and that I can get everything done on my own, even if my dust-bunny-filled home clearly says otherwise. In my pre-baby days, this was mostly true, so I think my brain is having a hard time catching up to the crazy new demands on my time. Now that I have a tornado roaring through the house on a daily basis and am trying to work from home while my husband works a demanding job…let’s just say it’s impossible to get things done when they need to get done.
My husband and I don’t have family nearby (they’re all a flight away), and having only been in our area less than two years, we haven’t built a massive network of close friends (that’s a post for another day). So, except for the times when family comes to visit or we go back home for a special occasion, my husband and I do all of the baby work, with no reliable, trustworthy babysitter we can count on. So we’ve gotten used to being independent baby-raisers and doing everything on our own. But sometimes, situations crop up to teach you a lesson in accepting help.
I was at IKEA with Avery for the third (or was it the fourth?) time in a week. (It’s a long story having to do with us choosing the one configuration of a customizable desk that wasn’t possible.) I knew I’d be cutting our trip close to nap time but thought the baby would be a trooper. Well, I was wrong. About halfway through the store, I started seeing hints of her need-a-nap meltdown brewing. So I picked up the pace. But I wasn’t fast enough, and she started to really ramp up her dissatisfaction at the Scandinavian decor. And if you know IKEA, you know that you can’t hightail it to an exit—you’re stuck winding your way through their meandering showrooms. So we finally made it to the DIY checkout line, and Avery was intermittently crying and grumbling. I still owe a major thanks to the man behind us in line who kept her distracted while I checked us out.
So I make it outside with my cart full of stuff and come across these cement pylons that prevent you from taking your cart to the parking lot. I stood there looking at them in disbelief. This meant that I would have to leave all of my stuff unattended while I took Avery to the car or that I’d have to go check my stuff into a storage locker while I got the car. I stood there. Contemplating my fate. And then I heard the voice of an angel: “Do you want me to watch your stuff while you get your car?” I think she could see that I was about to join my daughter in her meltdown, and I’ve never been so grateful for the help of another mom.
I read this article about moms helping moms—a mom was at a swim lesson and asked another mom to watch her infant while she took an older child to the bathroom. It’s a good reminder that often, people—and especially other moms—are willing to help other moms when asked. But if you read the comments on the article, you can see why moms are hesitant to ask for help. While some people thought the mom was totally in the right asking another mom to watch her child, some go so far as to call the mom lazy for not hauling the infant car seat along to the bathroom.
Yes, you have to be careful about whom you trust with your kids. And I have more than a healthy dose of paranoia when it comes to my daughter—I never would have left Avery with the woman at IKEA. But sometimes you have to trust humanity in general to preserve your sanity—especially if it’s another mom whom you’ve probably seen at swim lessons before, not a complete stranger. Moms are willing to help other moms out—we know those tough days, we know what it’s like in the trenches. We all just have to be willing to ask for and accept a little help from time to time. —Erin