“In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen.
Really, truly, deeply seen.” Brene Brown
In February 2006 I was 23, had just given birth to my third baby, and was totally overwhelmed. Three children under three, a husband in full-time youth ministry who didn’t really know how to say no to other people and a house full of teenagers most days. Craziness ruled the place.
I made a decision that year, a personal policy of sorts, that if someone offered to help me out, I would say yes.
Sure, on paper that doesn’t look like much of a big deal, but for so many of us, accepting help from others can be a pretty radical step. It seems like it’s built into our DNA to refuse help until we are at the point of complete breakdown. “Oh thanks for offering, but I’m fine”, even though we’re nowhere near fine. It’s as if somehow we think we’ll get an extra gold star if we can do all the things on our own, or we feel the need to have it all together all the time, and think we are less than if we allow others into our places of struggle and weakness.
I decided that if people were just offering to be polite, if they didn’t really mean it, they probably wouldn’t offer again after I had accepted once. And if they really meant it, then why not accept? I wasn’t any less of a mother because someone folded my washing while I fed the baby for the 100th time that day, or because another woman rocked my baby to sleep one day that week. In fact, often it was a blessing to the other person too (Hot tip: lots of people love rocking babies to sleep, particularly the ones they can hand back and sleep uninterrupted in their own bed that night).
Some of us have a built-in tribe of sisters, and mothers, aunties or grandmas, that love us and help in the challenging times (and let’s face it, most days we spend mothering are pretty challenging). But some of us either don’t have those people at all, or don’t have the kind of relationships with them that allow for that. I fall into the middle category, I’ve never had a sister, and my mum passed away 4 years ago. So letting go of looking perfect, of saying “I’m fine” when I’m really not, and letting others love me has been crucial to me finding a tribe.
Let your tribe love you.
And if you don’t have a tribe right now, listen for the voices that are offering help and give yourself permission to say yes. What you find there may surprise you. Let go of the idea that allowing someone to help you makes you weaker, or means you owe them, or whatever other lies you’ve been sold. Embrace the reality that we belong to each other, and all of the kindness that your heart longs to pour out on others is allowed to be poured out upon you too. And give yourself permission before you end up on the edge of (or deep in the pit of) burnout, you are so totally worth it.