Accepting help

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.


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16 Comments on “Accepting help

  1. In the weeks and months after my twins were born, my dad baked lasagne, and every time he and Mum came to vist us, they restocked our freezer with trays of lasagne, just ready to be taken out and defrosted and heated and eated. #besthelpever

    Last year, when I was running for election while trying to run a house full of teenagers and husband and the like, a friend decided that her contribution to the cause would come in the form of meals for my family. Stews / soups / hotpots. #blessher

    Each time, what made the difference was me saying yes, but then the people just turning up and doing it. #Ilovethem4eva

    • Yeah it’s not just after birth that we can support those we love. Thanks for reminding us of that. When Eddie was in hospital friends always dropped coffee and food and hugs and support, I was so grateful.

  2. I started my own blog recently, but I ADORE your blog. The first time I read it was when someone sent the “I’m grateful, now f*** off” link. I was like OMG SO MUCH YES. And everything you’ve posted since, I have identified with in one way or another. This one as well. After birth I said “No, I’m fine” to everything, and kept thinking, “What the f*** is wrong with me? I’m not fine!!” lol. Though I gotta say, if I ate peanut butter and chocolate whilst breastfeeding, it was an instant recipe for bad wind and pimples. In the baby, that is.

    • Thanks heaps! I’m so stoked every day when I see that other mums relate to what I’m saying. It makes me feel like not so much of a weirdo!!x

  3. Again I totally agree with you. With my first three kids, I resisted any and all offers of help. I had been independent since childhood, probably from the womb, and associated needing help with some kind of weakness or failure in me. Then I had my last son and had to care for four kids while recovering from major abdominal surgery and while existing on almost eff all sleep because of him being a preemie. One afternoon, when he was a month old, a friend happened to be over when it was time for me to walk to school to collect my oldest. She offered to stay at my house with the three youngest kids so I could get there and back quicker (school was a half hour walk each way). My first instinct was to say no but pushing a double buggy while recovering from abdominal surgery is not easy. I said yes. And then I was able to yes when a friend offered to bring my son home from school for a week. I realised then that saying yes to help in times of acute need is not a sign of weakness. It’s just accepting someone’s friendship in practical ways.

    • That sounds like Hell! I am so glad you had support. I totally agree accepting help isn’t a sign of weakness even though it sometimes feels like it is. It is all about accepting friendship, thanks so much for articulating that.

  4. I too am not very good at asking for help but my friends who are already mums wouldn’t take no for an answer. After the premature birth of my second son, one of my oldest friends drove for 2 hours with smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels for lunch and a massive lasagne for our tea. It ended up feeding us for 3 meals! Wonderful.

    • That’s wonderful. I’m now that type of mum. I’m all about care packages. That’s the awesome thing about giving in this way, it reminds the person you’re giving to that there are ways they can support others as well.

  5. Pretty much every time I read one of your posts my first thought upon reading it is “I love you.” So there it is. I love you! I love the “ones who are the perfect guests because they make lasagna wash their hands and stay 15 minutes!” I chuckled out loud when I read your “I said no to fudge.” Seriously, sometimes what are we thinking? I wrote a piece once about how every woman needs a personal lackey for at least two weeks after giving birth. ( I still think this is true. HUGELY true. Jeezzuz, having a baby, and then HAVING a baby is a lot of work! Glad you got your lasagna. And hurrah for your twitter friends!

  6. The thing with people who offer help is that they really want to be able to help in some way so by saying yes you’re actually doing them a favour. I can be quite a pushy helper at time. I’ll inflict scones and cupcakes and cookies on whoever I deem is deserving. And it makes me feel good to be able to contribute just a little. Whether the contribution is wanted or not.

    • Cookies and cupcakes really make the world a better place. I’m really grateful for the people who “inflicted” food on me!!

  7. This made me laugh so hard! “expensive tit medicine”—HAHA! Also, I wholeheartedly agree with all of this. When my daughter was little, I awkwardly asked a friend to come over and hold her so I could walk the dog. And it was amazing. Another time I called my mom and asked her to drive 2 hours to me because I was about to lose it. That was perhaps life-saving. It is so hard to ask for help, but there’s a whole village out there willing to lend a hand. Plus, I want my daughter to grow up knowing it’s ok to reach and and it’s ok to not have everything figured out. It’s ok to need a hand sometimes.