Almost four years ago, Charleigh June made me a mother for the very first time. We had waited a long time for that day, and I was determined to be the Best Mommy Ever. I wanted to be SuperMom, and do every single thing by myself. But the truth was, I was struggling, losing bits of myself.
Charleigh June was a difficult baby. Colicky and suffering from multiple allergies and severe reflux. There were days I’d find myself feeling broken, crying on the couch. Wondering how I would survive. I was exhausted and desperately needed time for myself. When she was a month old, my husband and I decided I needed to get out of the house, so we resumed our “Friday Night Meeting” at our favorite local restaurant. That’s when I learned to say yes when I really wanted to say no.
“The Meeting” was nothing special. Just meeting some friends who’d become like family, at a family-friendly restaurant in our neighborhood every Friday night. These were the people who were there through some of the most trying times in our marriage. People we knew we could count on to be there regardless of the situation.
The first outing was tough. Everybody was anxiously waiting to meet Charleigh June. I wasn’t ready to let anybody hold her or touch her. Even if she was screamed the whole meal, I refused any help offered to me. I was her mom. I knew what was best. After a few weeks, and some hounding by our friend Joe, I gave in.
Joe was a seasoned father of four. He was constantly trying to convince me to let go and let people help. He was the first person I let hold her – and it was absolutely magical. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I was able to take a breather. A much-needed break.
Joe was the first person to realize she was cutting her first tooth. He was the one who encouraged me to go talk to a friend at the restaurant because she was safe without me. That’s when I realized accepting help was what I really needed. From that point on, Charleigh June gained a handful of new Aunts and Uncles.
I remember one night, in particular, we were sitting in the bar area (our beloved St. Louis Cardinals were televised- a rare occurrence in Houston). She was screaming up a storm. I was anxiously pacing back and forth through the restaurant, hoping and praying she would calm down. A bald man who was hanging out with a handful of our friends came up to me and said, “Hey! I’m Steve, and I’m a baby whisperer. Can I help you with her?” Part of me was hesitant, but the other part of me knew I needed a breather and I needed to take a bit of a risk. He obviously knew some of our friends well, and likely lived in our neighborhood. I took a deep breath, introduced myself and handed Charleigh June over.
That was a life-altering moment. I met Steve’s wife, and it turned out they lived just doors away from us. They became very good friends, and Steve became the official Charleigh June whisperer.
When I was pregnant with the twins, I had to accept even more help from others. Steve and his wife let my entire family (dog and cats too) crash at their house when we were trying to sell our home. Joe and others at the “Friday Night Meeting” gave me a breather when I needed a break.
After the twins were born, my husband was traveling frequently. Those days were tough. The twins, much like their older sister, had allergies and severe reflux, and I found it difficult to shower. This time, I was well versed in accepting help.
After one long, incredibly difficult day, Steve and his wife came over to the house. They made me dinner, fed babies and got them ready for bed while I got to take a long, peaceful shower. After we finally met our neighbors at our new house, they would text me asking if I wanted dinner and if I needed anything at the store. One neighbor would come over in the morning a few times a week, have coffee with me and help me start my day out on the right foot. Another neighbor would watch the kids so I could go to an appointment alone.
It was tough moving to a new state and leaving that amazing support system behind, but I’m slowly starting to build a village here. My next door neighbor has offered to come over and watch the kids (now 4, 2 & 2) so I can take a shower in peace while my husband is gone for work. She has also picked up groceries for me so I don’t have to drag everybody out of the house. Another neighbor was here the instant I needed help one evening, and others know my husband travels and check in on me frequently. It may take longer, but I’m determined to build a village here too.
It was tough to let go. We all want to be SuperMom, but there’s no shame in accepting help from others. ‘Uncle’ Joe’s words of wisdom have stayed with me, “when people offer to help you, allow them to help. Being a parent is tough and even the most seasoned parents need a break. If you aren’t getting breaks yourself you can’t do everything you want to do. The very best parents ACCEPT HELP from others.”
I encourage you to accept help when you feel like you are drowning, and take breaks as often as needed. Find your village. The ones you can count on through thick and thin. And, once you’re past the season of life where you need assistance rise to the challenge and offer help to a friend, neighbor, or even a stranger in need. You never know how much you may help them out