BY SHELBY CARTER
Some of the best parenting advice that I never received was to ask for help. Asking for help always looked like a sign of weakness to me. I don’t know if that was taught, learned, conjured up in my head, or a combination of the three. None of the parenting books I have read tell you to do this. No one has ever told me to ask for help when I need it. Therefore, I am not good at it.
Almost 15 years into this parenting journey, I am still learning. Daily. Every single day is different and full of ups and downs. But I have discovered, just recently, that, truly, you cannot pour from an empty cup, and I am a work in progress in this area.
There have been so many instances throughout my parenting life that I have blown it. I mean, I failed miserably. I have not been a good mom in a couple of moments, which is painful to take. However, when I dive deep into those moments and get to the root of the problem, I realize some hard truths. Truth No. 1: I was tired. Truth No. 2: I was overwhelmed. Truth No. 3: That combination has disastrous results.
Several years ago, I was on the warpath regularly, as everything was seemingly imperfect in my home. My children weren’t listening well, I was constantly on edge, and I was yelling daily. My boys even gave a name to my crazed moments of psycho mothering. They called them “ginger-snaps.” Side note: red-headed women are hard to handle. Truly, we are.
Looking back, these were nothing more than adult temper tantrums, and I was just like a toddler throwing a fit. I was tired. I was grumpy and needed someone to let me crawl into the bed, cover-up, and watch a show until I calmed down. But I didn’t know it at the time. I didn’t know I needed help.
Parenting tired is a whole other level of tired. When you look at your calendar, and you don’t know whether to wind your butt or scratch your watch because it is so full, becoming overwhelmed is inevitable. How in the world do you take three kids to three different places on the same day, at the same time, and still keep up with everything else?
School events, orthodontist, baseball, well-check, birthday party, youth group, field trip, muffins with mom, laundry, sign the planner, read for 15 minutes, dress-up day, flower bed weeding, grocery, etc., etc.
My husband and I look at each other regularly and wonder how it will work. Divide and conquer is always the answer. A full schedule of events and no time to decompress and take care of ourselves is a breeding ground for a good “mommy fit.” You know the one I’m talking about, just like the snap I mentioned above. No one is listening (because they are kids), everything seems like it isn’t going according to plan (because that is life), and the overwhelming feeling inside comes out in the form of yelling at your kids (or spouse) because they are doing whatever it is you don’t like that sends you over the edge. Sound familiar? It feels like a volcano of emotion rolling out of you like hot lava just because someone peed on the toilet seat. Truth is, the pee on the seat didn’t send you over the edge. You were already there, and just because your pride got in the way, you didn’t ask for help.
Help comes in many forms. Sometimes it just means asking someone to watch your children so that you may enjoy a date night with your husband. Sometimes, it is leaving the children with your husband to go to Bible study, or a dinner date with a girlfriend that needs a break too. Sometimes, it comes in the form of a mental health day, and you get a mani/pedi. My personal favorite “helper go-to’s” are Kroger pick-up and when the children go to children’s church. I clearly need to get better at requesting help; I told you this.
Maybe you are good at asking for help. Maybe you don’t have mommy fits. I want to say I am proud of you, and I almost envy you. For the rest of us, we can do better.
Let’s start today. Let’s make changes that are going to impact our families in such a positive way they won’t know what hit them—the very first step, filling your own cup.
Mommas, you must take care of yourself and treat yourself with kindness and respect before you can effectively love on anyone else. Find what works for you and make that a priority for yourself. Take a walk, take a nap, eat an entire cheesecake; find your happiness. Step one, learn to take care of yourself and not feel guilty when you ask someone to help with your daily duties while taking a minute for yourself. Step two: decide what is a must and what can wait. Those dishes can wait, that laundry will still be there later, and the weeds will keep growing. Step three: ASK FOR HELP any time you feel the overwhelming feeling of life getting the best of you. I want you to know the truth: there is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. It is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. I am vowing to you, dear reader, to do better. I will take time to fill my cup back to the top. I will ask for help. Will you join me?