Why Do We Find it so Hard to Accept Help as Parents?
Do you accept help when it’s offered to you? We know how crazy life can be the moment we become parents, but all too often, when offers of help are made, we refuse them because we don’t want to be an inconvenience.
Sometimes no help is offered and we just keep stomping through the parenthood playground.
One mother, Jen Vuk, has shared what it was like when she was sent an email proposal from her friend Kat, offering to come to her house, cook dinner for her husband and kids, bath the kids, put them to bed and leave at 8pm, one night per week or fortnight for 2 months.
When Jen got the email, she read it again and cried, but was going to refuse the offer. She spent the next 24 hours agonizing over the email and then a few days later she said, ‘yes, please.’
Jen was at breaking point. The proposal from her friend couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. She had recently confessed to her friend that she wasn’t coping with the demands of life – with taking care of her elderly parents while managing a family of her own, paid work and domestic chores. She had no time to herself.
Jen admits the first night Kat was in her kitchen, it felt a little awkward, “almost like a first date where we weren’t yet sure of the boundaries (while both my kids and husband were grappling with the fact that a new line seemed to have been crossed).”
But those couple of hours gave Jen time to breathe. “I can’t deny that on the nights Kat’s here there’s something delightfully clandestine about temporarily signing my parental duties away,” wrote Jen.
The proposal came with no agenda of reciprocation, and Jen admits she may never be able to reciprocate, but the gift was a blessing to her and her family.
The heartfelt gift from one friend to another prompts me to think about what I do when I hear a mum is not coping. Usually I offer a listening ear and if I have the time, a home-cooked meal.
We live in an age where we know it takes a village to raise a child but the village is segregated, and the offers of help are far and few, mostly because we assume everyone has it together or our offer will just get refused anyway.
Or we don’t cry for help and become a martyr, at the detriment of our own health.
After reading Jen’s story, I’m prompted to look out for mums who are struggling. It may not be completely obvious, but simply from the bloodshot eyes of a mum being up all night with a teething baby. Or they arrive late to school drop off because the toddler threw a tantrum and no one could find their shoes.
Looking out for each other should be part of the parenthood manual because we all go through the valleys at some stage, and having someone offer a hand of help can be a godsend.
We need to accept the help when it’s offered too. For our own peace of mind and the good of our family. Accepting help is not defeat, it’s simply a realizing, we can’t do this on our own.
And honestly, I don’t think we were meant to.