I began motherhood as an I-can-do-it-all mom. I was fiercely independent. I felt many cards were stacked against me, and I had to be in control in case they fell. If anything went wrong, I would have the assurance that I could handle it myself. It made me feel secure – this idea that I could bear it all.
Of course, this is unsustainable! Things go wrong, life happens, and it can quickly overwhelm a mother trying to do it on her own.
We all end up needing the support of others, which is a lesson I learned as I was preparing for my first international flight with my 12-month-old son. I was scheduled to travel for 25 consecutive hours without the help of my husband. Our situation was no anomaly to the dozens of military families around us, and one mom gave me sound advice:
Accept ALL help, she said, every single offer to hold something, get something, play, distract, retrieve, say YES.
In a rare moment of humility, I followed her advice. I went into this challenge solo but determined to embrace help when it came to me. I knew I would need it!
At the beginning of our long travel day, my son got sick on the way to the airport and threw up on the both of us. My need for support had started early! It just so happened that a labor & delivery corpsman was sitting at the back of our bus and quickly jumped in to help. He was happy to help a young mother with some paper towels and assured me that he was used to that kind of mess. The rest of our journey was arduous, but stewardesses and friendly strangers offered support in ways that I needed. I don’t know how I would have made it without all the help I received.
Since then, I’ve been progressively more receptive to the help and kindness people offer. Just the other day, I was in the line at the post office with my three kids. We were doing fine – I was still in the gentle-reminder phase with my boys. But, the man in front of us offered a budge. Four-years-ago Carrie probably would have politely declined. Oh no no. Thank you, we’re fine. But present-day Carrie accepted his offer with a heavy dose of gratitude.
That kind gentleman gave up a couple minutes of his time. Hopefully, it was a small imposition. But getting out of the post office line two minutes earlier is 120 fewer seconds I have to be on high-alert to make sure my kids are behaving. For me, it was quite a gift. Experiences like these are making me realize that we’re worth helping. Moms are worth helping!
It often feels like we mamas are a burden to society. Kids are loud. They can be obnoxious! When we’re out with our children, we move slowly and fumble around quite a bit. We start to believe we’re hindrances because there are people who say, “Maybe you should take your kids home” when all you want is to meet that author at his book signing, or “Wow, you have your hands full!” Or the ones who tail you in the grocery store because your tank-sized cart is difficult to maneuver with 100 pounds of people and product in it.
Yes, whenever we go out into the world, you might as well put up flashing lights in back with a sign that says “WIDE LOAD; SLOW-MOVING INDIVIDUAL” because it’s true!
But a burden? I don’t think so. It’s not like we’re raising the next generation of awesome humans and ensuring the future of decent upstanding citizens. No big deal.
Mom: you are not a burden to society. In fact, you are worth helping. You are worth helping! Don’t ignore those who see your value as a mother. When people in public offer you help, that’s what they’re saying. I see you’re taking on something challenging. Let me help. Oh, by the way, thank you for doing such an important job. They’re supporting you as you support the next generation.
So, accept the help when it’s offered. It’s a gift for you not because you’re weak, but because you’re worth it and you’re doing something great.