The Hardest Thing I’m Learning as a New Mom

 

For most of my 20’s I would pride myself on being independent.

I didn’t need a man to start my life, to be financially stable, to have my own place or to be secure in who I was. In fact, that’s still true… and I still need look to God for those things.

In the world’s eyes, I wanted to be an independent woman who could work hard, build stuff, haul stuff and fix stuff.  And I was proud of that.

Then I got married and learned something. I learned sometimes I need to allow people to help.

My husband wants to help.  People want to help.  And I need to let them.

Because it’s just good for us to serve one another – in marriage and in community.

And so… I learned to receive help more willingly.  Because I wasn’t proving anything by being able to “do-it-on-my-own.”  Like a toddler. Ha!

But a harder lesson was yet to come.

Because then I had a baby. And then I needed help.

Here’s the scene. Our sweet babe kept us up most of night and decided to throw a 2am party-in-the-crib. It’s now 7am, dim winter sunlight is starting to glow through the trees, and my eyelids are so heavy they feel like sandpaper.  And our sweet babe is laughing, throwing toys around on the livingroom floor.  My hair is dirty, my glasses are smudged, there’s a little mascara under my eyes left over from yesterday and there’s barf on my housecoat. I feel like a bag of sand, emotionally, physically, mentally. And my sweet husband is starting the coffee.

Then he asks if I need anything.  Do I need anything??  Yes…  I need a lot of things. A long nap. A hot shower. A cup of coffee. A clean housecoat. A clean baby. A hug.

But what do I say?  “No, I’m fine.”

No, I’m fine?!?!?  WORST POSSIBLE ANSWER.

It’s simply, really.

But sometimes, it’s really hard.

The hardest thing I’m learning as a new mom is actually asking for help.

I’m using the word “help” intentionally here.  And I’m operating off the assumption that my husband and friends and family want to be and are helpful.  

But for some reason… I find it difficult to ask for what I need.

Anyone else out there hate asking for help??

Why is it hard?

Is it pride?  A desire for achievement?  Or not ‘needing’ anyone?  Or not being a ‘burden’? Do I have something to prove?

None of that is really healthy.

Nothing in life has caused me to lean into the people around me more than being a mother.

And this is where I stop.  I stop to take a minute to recognize some mothers don’t have a spouse to lean into and – now more than ever – those mothers are heroes to me.  If you know a single mom, love on her.  She may never ask you for it, but I’m 110% sure she needs it.  These mothers are amazing.

By grace and with gratitude, I live with an amazingly supportive husband and I’m thankful for him. He’s a partner in parenthood and there’s nothing he’s not willing to do.  He helps in every and any way he can. We are a team.

However, my reluctance to ask for help is probably the greatest source of tension in our marriage right now.

It’s not that I don’t have a helpful partner, but my partner is not a mind-reader.

Justin can’t read my mind to know what I need.  Mind you, he’s pretty darn good at it…  but if I don’t communicate my needs, no one around me is telepathic.

And when I don’t communicate my needs, I try to take everything on myself. Then… things get messy.

Un-communicated and un-fulfilled expectations turns into disappointment. And frustration. And resentment on both sides. And no one wins.

But as I learn to humbly ask for help – to humbly communicate my needs – we both win.

Because there has never been a time in my adult life where I have needed more support.  And the more I am able to communicate those needs, the better things get.

I think there’s 2 things at the root of not wanting to ask for help when I need it:

  1. A heart issue – Pride

    “A feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements… ” – google dictionary

    “A high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority…” – dictionary.com

    Is pride healthy sometimes?  Absolutely.

    But not when it stands in the way of your relationships.  Then, then pride is controlling you.  And what controls you is your master.  And pride is a terrible master.

    So I ask myself, why do I feel like I need to “achieve” motherhood on my own? Why do I feel like I am “superior” to asking for help?

    When I humble myself and ask for what I need, everyone wins.

    Justin becomes a stronger partner. I feel well-supported. Our babe has happy parents. And pride doesn’t stand in the way of healthy relationships.

  2. A skills issue – Communication

    This might sound strange, but sometimes I actually don’t know how to ask for help because I don’t actually know what I need.

    It’s hard to ask for help when you don’t know what to ask for.

    So, the first step for me has been learning to be more aware of my thoughts and feelings when I need help.

    When I am aware of what I’m thinking/feeling (ie. tiredness, resentment, uncertainty etc) then I start an active conversation in my head. Why am I feeling this? What would make this moment just a little bit better? What does Justin need to know that I’m not telling him?

    Sometimes I even need to have that conversation out loud with Justin in order to answer the question.  I have to ask for help figuring out what I need to ask for help with.  (without accusing or blaming him for my feelings – tone is super important here!!)

    Maybe that sounds like total overkill, but talking it through has really helped to diffuse tired frustration and unnecessary resentment.  Because being up from 2-3am with a fussy baby and only your thoughts… well, let’s just say it’s not always pretty. 🙂

    When I learn how to assess and actually communicate my needs – everyone wins.

    Again – Justin becomes a stronger partner. I feel well-supported. Our babe has happy parents.

Whatever walk of life you’re coming from, are you comfortable asking for help when you need it? Why or why not?

How do you deal with pride?

How have you learned to communicate your needs to people you love?

 

Leave a comment below… I’d love your insight.

Sarah

Sarah according to Justin – brings a kindness, compassion and empathy to every conversation she finds herself in. She has a remarkable gift for reaching out and leaving others better than when she met them. She’s also a devoted, patient, and loving wife and mother with a passion for seeing God’s love realized in this world.

7 Comments

  1. Brittney May 8, 2017

    Great post Sarah! I can’t relate as a mom but in every day life it is hard to ask for help and you think you can do everything, but as I have learned planning a wedding with my fiance is that it’s a joint effort and not asking for help can (and will) lead to ugly arguments which is NOT healthy! I’ve had to learn to ask for help and to lean on those closest to me (you guys included!)

  2. Dave stege May 8, 2017

    Another great read..As a parent I can totally relate Sarah..I still have problems communicating or if I do it’s really HARSH..Sometimes my FILTER isn’t there..Asking for help is still hard..Getting better but I guess because of past experiences where you ask for help and the people who help you are always like “Well I DID THIS FOR YOU”…I hate that feeling..Still learning how to deal with feelings and emotions..I ALWAYS SAY “I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up”..Some 47-48 years later..Praying works for me the best..God gives me strength and courage..Usually when I need it the most.Thanks for sharing..You both are AMAZING

  3. Stephanie May 8, 2017

    You hit the nail on the head. This is a huge issue I struggle/d with, especially in my failed marriage and it only intensified after kids. I come from a family that anticipates needs and so I never really learned to communicate them well. Plus like you I pride myself on doing it all. But the truth is that was a contributing factor to the demise of my marriage and also doesn’t allow people to love & support me – which is great for both.

    As for the single moms- thank you for recognizing the hard work. But honestly from my perspective – you just do it. And if you had too you would- with love & joy- not always but mostly ;). My days can be tough just like yours- I wouldn’t say harder. But the heartbreaking thing I have learned as a single mom is that loving your kids alone is the hardest part of all of this. I don’t know if all single moms feel this way. I’ve also chosen to be single in this season while I wait for a spouse from God so maybe that’s why this feeling is so acute. I don’t have family nearby either. All this to say- enjoy those shared looks when Issac does something sweet/crazy/annoying. Loving them together and with God is a gift I didn’t appreciate before. But I’m learning to invite people in to love them with me. And my kids know that God loves them even more than I do so when I feel alone in my love I remind us Who made them and Who loved them before I even knew them.

    I’m thankful for your beautiful reminder to ask for help this morning. And I’m very thankful you are exploring this to make your marriage stronger <3

  4. Amy May 8, 2017

    Oh sooooooooooo true! I think most women try hard to be independent and then when they have kids it’s even harder to ask for help or even know how to ask….as funny as that is it’s true! I myself as a military spouse am often (or so it seems) solo parenting for days, weeks or months at a time. I’m only just “learning” how to ask for help and sometimes I still don’t ask cuz I don’t want to impose on my friends or neighborhood ours for help with my kids….but sometimes I have to otherwise I’m no good to my kids. Who wants a grumpy, beyond irritated mom lol

  5. Crystal May 8, 2017

    Yes to this for sure. This is a constant struggle because I feel like I “should be able to” take on all this things and do it without too much struggle. I don’t know who told me that – social media probably. So many super moms out there, but just like everything, we don’t see the back story. I often expect my husband to know what I need and that’s not fair. I’m learning that asking him to do something isn’t nagging, it’ s just asking for help and he’s always happy to do it. Thanks for another reminder!

  6. Bob May 8, 2017

    Great post! I can’t relate to newborns as we adopted, however they were both under 1 year and I’m sure we hit the jackpot as I don’t recall any of the struggles of parenthood. I am getting near 65, however, maybe my wife has a better memory-lol. I am well acquainted with Pride, however. I remember once a drunk German sailor (sharing a cell with me) – he noticed I was reading the Bible and he said “I’m not very religious”. I said “that’s fantastic because what I’m reading tells me that there is more hope for drunkards and prostitutes in discovering God than someone who is religious.” He wondered what in the world I was reading. It’s a long story but I’ll just conclude with as you stated- recognizing you have a need is the first step towards God and experiencing him in your life. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Sarah May 9, 2017

    Wow – thank you ALL for your thoughtful insight here. I’m amazed by how many of us share this experience… thanks for taking the time to give your feedback. It’s awesome to know we’re not alone in what can seem like strange, unspoken hang-ups.

    Thank you guys <3

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