I had life by the tail when we had only two children. I felt organized, on top of all my responsibilities, and I planned my day so that I had discretionary time. Most days, I was able to get the important things done, spend time with my children, and even had the house picked up when my husband came home.
I liked being Suzy Homemaker—to cook meals, bake delicious dainties, and sew for myself and my family. Life was—well, fairly predictable and in control.
But then came the days when the equilibrium was threatened. Babies #3, #4, and #5 came in quick succession. I barely had time to think in between changing diapers, nursing babies and trying to get some sleep. You may have been there. You may even be there right now.
I was thrilled to have my crew of five. We had prayed for twins and God had answered our prayer! I knew I would be equal to the task, whatever that was. Even when well-intentioned—yet not helpful—people asked me, “What are you going to do?”, I just laughed.
I couldn’t plan everything out. My life wasn’t going to have the predictability that it had in the past. My vision of myself as Super Mom was being shaken.
A Necessary Adjustment For Sustainability
My story is not a unique one. Even one child can change the dynamic in a family. But I want to share the necessary change that I had to make in order for life to flow somewhat smoothly again.
I had to learn to accept offers of help from other people.
Before the birth of my twins, a good friend of mine approached me with a way to help our growing family. She wanted to schedule friends to come into our home and offer to do what they could during those first few months to keep our home running smooth—or should I say to keep our sanity amidst the tumult.
But how would I feel having acquaintances come into my home—not just to visit, but to unload the dishwasher, fold laundry, and change diapers? I didn’t have family in town that could help with those things. So what were my options? Would I be willing to accept the help from others that were eager to lend a hand in my busy household?
My husband needed to fulfill his responsibilities at work, and yet the burden of five children under the age of 7—three in diapers—was probably more of a two-person job at the start. I knew I needed to accept the help.
How I Learned To Accept Help
- A bit of humility. It was a little difficult in the beginning, but I learned to humble myself, and yes, be honest with my friends about what needed done when they stopped by.
Posted a wish list. Just accepting an offer to lend a hand was a big step for me. And when a friend showed up ready to work, I still found it hard at times to say what needed done. I got to the point where I made a list every morning of the main tasks that were probably not going to get completed during my watch, and yet bugged me that they wouldn’t. My friends could simply refer to the list and not even have to ask.
I gave up the false guilt. At first, I wrestled with feelings of guilt for not being more social. I was so busy taking care of infants, that sometimes we didn’t even have a chance to carry on a conversation! Yet each friend signed on for a couple hours at a time, knowing they probably wouldn’t even get to hold babies or talk much with me. Sometimes, they even took the older three out so I could slip in a nap while the twins were sleeping. It was good for my family, for me, and for my awesome friends. I accepted that and stopped feeling guilty.
It’s humbling to accept help. But everyone needs some help sometime.
It is humbling to accept help. But it made all the difference for me in making it through those crazy few months. And I have never regretted the decision to allow others into my disorganized, and crazed life for that time.
Those friends are still my friends today. Even though they probably saw me in my most vulnerable state, they still loved me and accepted me nonetheless. Those are the same friends who have come to my children’s graduations, manned the kitchen at my kids’ wedding receptions, and stayed in touch no matter how far away we lived.
What a valuable lesson this was for me. Not to be Super Mom all the time, but to admit when life was difficult for me. To accept the support that was being offered. To allow others to come into my mess and help pull me out of it. And then to pass on the favor to someone else once I was beyond that stage.
Those first few years with all five kids are kind of a blur. I don’t know what I fixed for dinner, what my house looked like, or when I ever had time for my husband. But I will be forever grateful for those who sowed into my life and the life of my family.
Question: How have you overcome the tendency to refuse help during seasons when you really needed it? Share your answer in the comments below.