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Mama, my best advice for you? Let people help

A couple of weeks ago, I woke up sick with the double whammy of a really intense migraine and mastitis. My husband had an important meeting at work he couldn't miss. My sister had work, and my other sister could (and did) help a little, but also had to do a million pick-up and drop-offs for her three children so couldn't dedicate her day to us. So my husband texted his parents at 6 am to ask them if they could come down to help with the kids. They live three hours away and they were at our house by 9:45.

Incredible, right?

They didn't just care for our three children (which would have been more than enough in our eyes)—they also cleaned, did mounds and mounds of laundry, and cooked for us. I was able to rest all day and I felt a heck of a lot better that night then I did when I woke up that morning.

Extremely incredible, right?

The day before this, I had asked my sister to come to the doctor with me to see if it was, in fact, mastitis that I was dealing with. The day my in-laws came to our house I asked my other sister to drive my daughter to school. And my mom, five hours away, (along with her prayer pals) were on the job praying for my speedy recovery. Both my head and my breast were in SO MUCH pain—I had absolutely no other choice than to rely on help from my village.

But when my husband texted his parents that morning I immediately said, "Colin I really wish you wouldn't have done that. I don't want to interrupt their whole week." I felt so guilty and anxious because of it. I wanted the help, but I didn't want to take them away from the things they needed to get done or wanted to get done.

And what I am realizing more and more is—they want to help us. They don't want to see us drowning. They don't want to see us suffering. What they want to do is whatever is in their power to help us stay afloat. They don't want to see us barely survive—they are hoping and praying and helping us to see us thrive.

Because when someone loves you and cares for you, they are invested in you, your well-being and your future. They are rooting you on. So they help. That's called being kind. That's the good stuff. (Take the good stuff.)

Now… why is it so hard for us to accept that as a fact, and not feel guilt or shame because A: we need the help and B: because we ask someone else for help, taking them away from their life and to-do list and priorities?

When I talk to my friends about asking for (or actually more like, not asking for) help, I hear things like:

"I feel guilty for putting others out."

"I feel like an inconvenience."

"It's hard to allow people to see me vulnerable."

"There's a lot of pressure to have it all together."

"I feel like I should be able to handle it, so maybe they will think that too."

I have felt these so hard. It's not easy being totally comfortable with other people doing things for me. But I know I need to have people in my life who I am able to be that vulnerable with. Being able to be the most honest version of yourself with someone—letting your guard down completely—that is a true gift. That's worth holding on to and worth utilizing.

Being vulnerable is honorable. It requires strength, grace and grit. You've got that inside you, so let yourself use it. Let yourself be helped. You are worthy of a whole village, mama.

I mean, realistically, we all need help at times. That's life. My sisters will need my help one day, so will my in-laws, so will my parents. Just like your neighbor will too, and that helpful mom at your kiddo's preschool. You will help them because you'll remember how amazing it feels to have been thrown a lifeline when you needed it most. That will make you feel good.

There will be stages of life where we will need more help than others. They're called seasons. Lean on your people in the busy seasons of your life.

Because—what if we all admitted that motherhood can be so, so hard sometimes? What if, after we did that, then we asked for help from the people we love? Or what if we just took it when it was offered to us? Without fear or guilt or inadequacy or feeling like we owe them or beating ourselves up over it?

That would be called support.

That would be called teamwork.

That, my friends, would be called love.

Love for one another, love for ourselves, and love for our village. ❤️

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

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Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

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I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

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