Parenting in Isolation

There was a point in my life when I thought I could totally rock being a single parent.


Who was I kidding?

My husband and I have a running joke in our house that if he was the only parent, nothing would ever get done, and if I was the only parent, nobody would ever have any fun.  (I say that this is a running joke, but it's actually kind of true.)

In January, Andrew left for Hong Kong for ten days.  I get that military families and traveling business people do this kind of thing all the time, and for much greater stretches.  However, in our 3.5 years as parents, this was the longest that one of us has ever been gone.

When Andrew left, I had more offers for support from my friends than I even knew how to handle.  My girls and I weren't in crisis mode without my husband, but having experienced similar absences of spouses themselves, my friends knew that a normal day could turn into a disaster at any given moment and wanted to help.

Would it be helpful if I brought you a meal one night?

Why don't I watch your girls for an hour so you can ______?

I'm running to the grocery store.  Do you need me to pick up anything for you while I'm out?

Why is it so hard to say yes?

Being a young mother can be incredibly lonely (despite the fact that some little person is ALWAYS present and/or talking), but it seems that we are determined to seclude ourselves even further because of our pride, unwillingness to accept genuine offers of assistance, and fear of appearing incapable.

Accepting help, in my mind, is not a sign of weakness but of courage. In our self-sufficient culture, bravery is required to admit that you cannot function in solitary confinement.  It feels shameful to say, "Friend, I'm completely falling apart over here," but we've all been there.

When I've had another momma admit those same words, I haven't felt embarrassed for her.  Truthfully, I have been relieved.  {Thank goodness I'm not to only one who lives in a zoo!}  Even that gorgeous, super-talented mom with five beautiful, perfectly behaved model children loses her mind, too.  

Even her.

Also, breathe this in for a minute:

People offer to help you because they want to help you.

Simple as that.  Nobody is twisting anybody's arm here.

If you're blessed enough to have family in town, take them up on their proposals to play with their grandkids.  They seriously eat this stuff up.  Just ask my mom, who offered to drive up to do that very thing during the Hong Kong trip and, you guessed it, I said it wasn't necessary.  (I'm a work in progress.)

Parenting isn't meant to be done in isolation.  

This life isn't a contest to see who is the most independent.

We need people.

So, the next time someone offers to help, I dare you to say yes.