I get it. I get that a lifetime of being an overachiever to suddenly not isn’t so simple a metamorphosis.
You will always be that little girl in the front row, waving her hand for the 13th time that day because you have the right answer and you figured it out yourself. You will always be the woman gritting her teeth and grunting while opening the pickle jar because you actually use your gym membership three times a week and do not need your husband to do it for you.
I get it.
Asking for and accepting help is so hard, especially when you pride yourself on the fact that you can do it yourself. Maybe you’ve never needed help before—or at least that’s what you told yourself. But now you have a new baby, and life can be so hard.
It can be so exhausting and frustrating and draining in so many ways you never even imagined before. And, despite all that, it can be tempting to try to hold it all together—to hold it all in—all by yourself.
But, from one overachieving mom to another, I’d like to make a suggestion: don’t.
Don’t deny the love and help that is undoubtedly pouring in around you. It is so important to accept that help. And it does not, will not make you weak.
When I put aside my fear of showing (what I perceived as) weakness, I realized that by letting in the love, I wasn’t just helping myself—I was making things better for my baby, too. So…
Accept the help when your husband creeps into the nursery at 4 a.m. after your little one’s third nighttime wake up and offers to hold her for a while so you can get some sleep. You are not slacking—it actually is his job to help too, and trust me when I tell you that nothing will make you love him more than knowing he’s there for the two of you.
Accept the help when your mom wants to come stay with you for a week (or two…or three!) after the baby is born. It sounds like a long time right now, but those days will fly by in a blur of spit-up and exhaustion, and that second set of hands loving on you and your baby will be a godsend.
Accept the help when your dad won’t let you pay him back for the diapers and groceries he picked up for you after your fourth week of unpaid maternity leave. It has been years since you’ve needed him to pay for anything, and even though you still don’t need it, your pride isn’t worth nearly as much as what this means to him. (Plus, OMG babies are expensive.)
Accept the help when your mother-in-law offers to buy all the odds and ends off your registry that didn’t get purchased before the baby came. She isn’t criticizing you for not having them (you wanted them, remember?). She has probably been about as excited as you have been for this grandchild, and letting her in is the first step in fostering a solid relationship between your child and her grandmother.
Accept the help when your father-in-law offers to repair that squeak in the floor that keeps waking the baby and the swing that keeps malfunctioning and the baby gate that you seriously cannot get installed properly on your own (but don’t want to admit it.) Helping is his love language, and he’s showering that new baby (and you!) in all the love he can.
Accept the help when your congregation wants to make a meal delivery schedule for your family. Your baby is in part their new baby too and accepting that love sets an example of humble strength that will give you all a stronger bond.
Accept the help when your boss puts a gentle hand on your shoulder after she catches you crying at your desk your first day back and suggests you head out early (even though you’ve missed 12 weeks and that deadline is looming and Sarah from two desks over is giving you the side eye.) Your boss knows how hard you work—it’s why she wants to give you this break. Let her—and get yourself home for some serious snuggle time.
Accept the help when your best friend offers to sit with your baby so you can take a real shower for the first time in a week. The baby is sleeping anyway and you really, actually will be a happier and better mom if your hair is clean. Promise.
Accept the help. Accept the love.
If it helps, tell yourself you’re doing it for me. (Though it’s really, truly okay to do it for you, too!)
Accept it all because, this? This is your tribe, Mama.
And together, we’re all stronger.