It takes a village to raise a child, they say. And our village is so very busy.
I have hesitated to ask for or accept help, restrained by guilt over whether or not I may not be able to return the favour anytime soon, in any meaningful way.
Sometimes we get caught up in our ideas of what parenting should look like, and what a healthy friendship can look like as well.
After my third child was born and my postpartum anxiety got out of control, I asked for more help in the span of a few weeks than I have in the rest of my entire adult life. I didn’t really want to, even then, but I did not seem to have any other choice.
I was humbled and surprised to see how much help came quickly, graciously and without question or judgement.
There were times in my life when I was quick to jump to respond to any call for help from a friend – whether it was real or I had just imagined it. But that was before I had kids…
The transition to parenthood has changed a lot of me. It’s not so easy to anticipate or hear many other people’s needs while being blasted with consecutive earth-shaking challenges, no matter how beautiful or satisfying they may be.
I have steadied myself and I have sunk into this life. I have gained clarity on my weaknesses and my strengths and what is behind them.
And I worry. I worry that I am really bad at being a friend. I worry that my anxieties and insecurities have me reaching too hungrily for affirmation and comfort. Most days, no amount of heartfelt thanks from friends for bringing my magic into their lives can really convince me that I am not taking more than I can give.
I act as if I cashed in all the help I “deserve” when I was in my postpartum panic crisis. I’ve been trying to do so much myself and when I can’t keep up, I wonder how I might maximize my efficiency rather than where I might find assistance.
It’s like I need to be in a state of emergency to be open about being in need of anything.
But that can’t be right, can it?
We all know it takes a village, and even feeling as busy and overwhelmed as I sometimes do, I would certainly never scorn a friend for asking me for a hand with anything.
I can think of quite a few friends and loved ones that I wish would ask for my help, accept my help, just let themselves be helped.
So maybe I don’t need to worry about burdening people. Maybe I can trust that my friends only ever help when they are able and willing, whether I feel like I am being selfish or not. And maybe I can trust that no one will fault me for putting out a request for something that might seem trivial. Maybe my comfort is worth taking care of, too. Maybe I don’t have to wait until it’s an emergency.
Maybe that is how we can care for each other best.
It doesn’t need to show in grand gestures and great sacrifices. Just by doing what we can to help each other with the little things, we can make a huge impact on our village, keeping it rolling along.
Let’s not be afraid to reach out to each other, when we need a hand or think that someone needs ours. Let’s show each other that we are here, that we see each other and that we won’t let anyone get left behind. And let’s not leave ourselves behind, either!