Posted on March 25, 2015
I once received some excellent advice from two wonderful women who at the time were holding a tray of fish pie.
“Take help when it’s offered,” they said.
Why is it so hard for us to accept help? When you’ve just expelled a human from your body, and you’re exhausted, sore, and overwhelmed, it should be easy to say “yes, thank you, I’d love that”. But it’s not, at least for me it’s not. And I’m sure other mums feel the same.
In the days after my second son was born I had quite a few offers from friends and I turned quite a few down. For no reason! I thought, oh I don’t want to be a pain, oh I’m not that hard up right now, oh that would be good but I don’t want to seem needy. It’s so bizarre!
Someone offered to make me fudge and I said no. I said no to fudge. What the fuck was wrong with me?
My friends with the fish pie gave good advice. And I listened to them because they’re very wise. They’ve got two gorgeous boys and they’re mum inspirations (you’re thankful I didn’t say mumspirations right? Who the fuck even says that?) Anyway, I admire them and think they’re very clever and I want my boys to grow up and be as loved and spirited and supported as their boys are. So I started saying: Yes, thank you heaps! Instead of: No, I’m fine.
And it was great. I got chocolate and peanut butter brownie which I scoffed down as my son cluster fed. That same friend who is literally The Nicest Person I Know brought us a bag of goodies from the supermarket – my husband was in awe. There were ice creams in there. Fancy ones. She’s continued to be a huge support to me eight weeks on.
Our closest friends brought round KFC! The bogan food of the Gods. I thought my husband might cry with joy. They gave us hugs as well as the baby, it was wonderful. We sat there with stupid grins on our faces gorging on fried chicken and thinking “shit, we are lucky”.
I got the most incredibly huge amazing lasagne there ever was from another friend who will one day be the most excellent mother. Damn, her future kid will be lucky to have her. I got a damn cheesecake! A cheesecake! The cheesecake was from a friend who is the most selfless, kindest person. She too is going to be a such an awesome mum one day I just know it.
I basically lived on the lactation cookies another super busy friend made me. I will probably look back on those days in years to come and still think about how great those cookies were.
Another totally badass and awesome friend who I so admire for her bravery and strength bought me medication for a blocked duct within hours of me having a cry about the pain I was in. She wouldn’t take money from me to pay for it.
I could literally list so many lovely people who kept me company and dropped gifts off in those first three weeks. Also, a lot of them were friends on Twitter (one day I will write about how Twitter is your best internet home for support as a parent).
I now know that accepting help is so important. When I started accepting help (or at least trying to) I stopped feeling so overwhelmed. I stopped feeling so isolated. I stopped feeling so scared. So alone. It’s really, really hard to ask for help. Harder than it is to accept I reckon. So when it’s offered – take it, even if it feels weird.
And if you’re in a position to help a new mum, maybe just give her stuff (especially if it’s food) even if she doesn’t expressly ask for it. It can be hard to get past that “I don’t want to be a pain” reflex that a lot of women have. Women are taught to always be the provider, to always help instead of being helped. It can be really hard to overcome all that social conditioning to allow someone else to look after you. I’m grateful to my friends who just said “I’ve made you some dinner, when can I bring it over?”
So thank you! Seriously, thank you so much. To all the people out there who make cheesecakes for new mums. The ones who make lactation cookies. The people who drop off fancy ice creams or expensive tit medicine. The people who drop off lasagne and are the perfect guests because they only stay 15 minutes and wash their hands before they hold the baby. You’re all actually saints. You’re angels. You’re wonderful, awesome people. You’re making life easier for new parents – that’s huge. Thank you.
And mums: say THANKYOU and YES PLEASE. Trust me on this. You’re not being a pain.
Also, always listen to lesbians brandishing fish pie. They know their shit. Trust me.