Our newest little one is now about 10 weeks old, and I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on life since he arrived.
I still feel absolutely run ragged most days, but I feel like we have hit our new normal. Life is moving at a fast pace, but at least it is becoming consistent and somewhat predictable (I know, that probably jinxes it).
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and honestly, I don’t know how I would have survived this last 10 weeks without my own village of caring people.
I wanted to be really intentional about resting properly in the postnatal period this time (after probably pushing it last time), and I really feel like it has paid off.
I had people here helping out a lot for the first 6-7 weeks – my husband for 4 weeks (off work), then my Mum and Dad, then my Sister and Brother-in-law.
My husband was amazing – looking after the older two kids and running the household the whole time. I pretty much got to just look after the baby and sleep, doing other bits and pieces as I could manage.
In fact, I don’t think I washed a single dish for one and a half months! That was almost as good as a holiday! 😉
Many people from church made us meals in those early weeks.
I’ve also had to learn to ask for help from friends, which is really hard for me.
But after many repetitions of my husband saying, “Call someone to come and help you!” and my friends saying “Call us if you need help!”, I guess it is sinking in.
One day, my second child was sick and I had to pick up my eldest from preschool in the middle of the day. So I called a friend to ask if she could pick her up for me, which she was happy to, and then when she brought my daughter home she also gave me a meal she had in her freezer – I was so blown away by her kindness!
The other week, I called my friend over to come and watch the kids while I washed my hair. And yeah, I did feel a little ridiculous asking her to do that, but well, it was almost two weeks since the last washing, so I was getting desperate! She totally understood, of course, being a mother of older kids herself.
One time, my husband had to work on the weekend and as the end of the day approached, he told me he had to scrap everything he’d done that day and start again. So it was clear that instead of being home within the hour (like I’d been expecting), he was actually not going to be home any time soon. At that point, I felt like locking myself in a small space and assuming the foetal position. Or calling my husband back and applying some combination of sobbing/begging/pleading him to come home. But I didn’t. I contacted two of my closest friends to have a quiet vent about it and ask them to pray for me. Then one of my (non-local) friends contacted another (local) friend, who then showed up on my doorstep unannounced with a meal to heat up for dinner, her daughter to entertain my kids for an hour, and willing hands ready to do the dishes and tidy up my house. Yep, my friends are kind of amazing!
These are just some examples, but there have been many more instances of practical help people have given me and our family.
They’re kind of cute when they’re not killing each other…
And it’s not just practical help. There’s also been much good advice given to me. I kind of feel like I’ve got the baby thing down pat now. I don’t mean it’s easy. But I’ve got my systems and I know what to do.
But the three kids thing? I have no idea what I’m doing…
The other day I read this article: Motherhood 101:The Class We Never Got.
It’s really long, but I highly recommend reading it. Anyway, Jess Connell talks about the importance of seeking out advice from other mothers who have demonstrated success in the areas we lack in motherhood. She lays out how you do this – identify your most pressing need at this time, find someone who does it well, ask them for their advice, listen and apply what they suggest, then evaluate how it worked for you.
Well, I did this the other week. I was finding it a real challenge breastfeeding the baby with the older two around. They were either climbing all over me and the baby or fighting with each other each time, then I would get stressed, then the baby wouldn’t feed as well.
So I asked a Mum from my MOPS group how she managed it. She suggested I go to the Kmart craft section and get a bunch of stuff for the older kids to play with just when I’m feeding the baby. Well, I did that and have been applying that method for almost a week now, and most of the time it works really well! Not perfectly, but it’s way better than it was. I’m so glad I asked!
Sometimes I feel guilty about asking for help so much (or maybe just prideful?), but it helps me to remember there are different seasons in life. I am just in a season where I happen to need to receive more help, and one day I will be in a season where I can give more help to someone else.
In a way, I feel like all these people who surround me with love and practical support are training me to be a good friend. I’ve been helped and supported in ways I never would have thought of on my own.
So, if there’s anything I could say to my fellow Mums, it’s this:
Don’t be too proud to ask for help. Don’t let fear of getting in the way stop you from giving help.
Receive help. Receive advice.
Give help. Give advice.
Embrace the village – we need each other.