This week I really struggled trying to find the right title for this blog entry. I know what message I’d like to share, but the title is a bit hard to put into words. The theme of this entry is to find the power in accepting help from others as you navigate your unknown path to becoming the best parent you can be. Let me back up a bit and hopefully it will start to make sense.
When I first became a parent, I was determined to “do everything right” and “by the book.” I was going to follow best practices set forth by current research and I was going to hail at being not only a supermom but also a superwife. Wow, did that first night home with the baby turn out be a humbling experience. Here is the story.
The weeks leading up to the birth of my first child, my mother in law said to me in a matter fact way, “When the baby comes I’ll stay with you guys for a week to help.” At first I couldn’t tell if she was stating a decision that was already a done deal or stating it like a question. I disregarded her comment because in a way I felt a little insulted, like she was assuming I couldn’t handle things after coming home for the hospital. I think I felt like my education and my practices in coursework and various child development centers spoke volumes and would carry me through that first week with the baby. Needless to say — I. Was. Wrong.
Having my mother in law stay with us the first week was an immeasurable blessing. I had the help from a woman who raised three kids of her own and willingly and most lovingly helped nurture my husband and I through the initial stages of “Oh my gosh, what do I do now?? Is that supposed to happen like that???”
I learned within minutes of her being there that accepting her help was my first authentic lesson in what “it takes a village” truly means. Parenting is hard. It’s important to remember that when others offer help, there is an uplifting power in accepting it. Keep in mind, I’m not saying that you should always accept an offer for help if you truly don’t need it. Such that, there is also power in respectfully declining it; but the point being is that you get to decide on that.
Accepting help when parenting is hard shouldn’t make you feel weak or powerless, it should energize you because someone has offered to help “carry your load.” That’s exactly what my mother in law did. She knew from previous experience that the first week of parenting was going to be a heavy load and she offered to carry it for me. She did the same exact thing with the births of my two subsequent children. I knew with my next two pregnancies that my mom in law would be there after the babies were born. What a sigh of relief that feeling gave me! When she wasn’t taking a turn rocking the baby so I could rest, she was helping with the dishes or preparing dinner or tidying up, etc. She gave me some much needed adult conversation and encouragement when I felt like I was already failing as a new mom.
I quickly realized that accepting her help wasn’t a sign that I didn’t know what to do, in fact, it was the exact opposite. Accepting her help equipped me to feel empowered to be a great parent.
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