I’ve learned a lot since I became a mom seven years ago.
I can make a delicious and nutritious meal that no one under four feet tall will eat
I can make the sting of a cut disappear with a magical kiss
I can catch bodily fluids with my hands
I can breathe calmly and snort in anger at the same time
I can name 90% of the vehicles and equipment on any construction site we pass by
I can accept help even when I think I’m doing just fine
Thanks to the kindness of other mothers, we have not had to resort to eating crayons in the last two and a half weeks.
Two and a half weeks ago I shattered a baby gate and my foot. I went from a multi-tasking mama of many to a one-footed gimp restricted to one level of our house. For that first week I was given strict instructions to stay off my broken foot: no weight bearing whatsoever. And the laundry, cooking, cleaning, baby-soothing, homework-wrangling, chauffering, bed-time ninja mom of three was supposed to do what exactly?
My husband, an equal parent in every way, is amazing but he is just one person. His role as father/mother was further complicated by his wife, who is a lousy patient. So not only did he have to work and fulfill both our roles he also had to contend with a wife who was doing her very best not to throw her remaining marbles in every direction and stomp her one good foot in protest. Most of my moments were filled with gratitude that it was only my foot. These moments were of course interspersed with incredible frustration when I’d start to say “I can…” only to realize I couldn’t.
I couldn’t carry my baby.
I couldn’t get up and down the stairs except on my bum.
I couldn’t carry food (or anything for that matter, unless it was in a bag strapped to my back)
I couldn’t go to my 4 year old when he was frustrated/angry/not listening
I couldn’t help with bath time or bed time
I couldn’t clean or tidy up or take my baby to change his diaper
I am part of several online communities and when one of the mom’s offered to start a meal train for me I didn’t respond right away because my initial response was “we’ll be fine” I thought to myself: there are families facing worse health crises. There are families with no relatives near by who could use the help more than we could. There are families who have less money than we do. There are 14 reasons why I should say no.
Thankfully my more rational and mature mama self intervened and reminded me:
Someone will always win the ‘my life is harder’ comparison game. You are living your own reality and entitled to feel what you feel about it. You’re feeling overwhelmed and like you need help.
So I said yes because there were 14 reasons to do so.
Fourteen families have fed my family in the last two and a half weeks. We have been fed muffins, cookies, pot pie, raw vegetables and dip, cheese, fruit, pasta and meatballs, banana bread, hummus and vegetables, soup, eggplant parmesan, pot pie, bagels, chicken a la king, and berry pie.
Bags have been left on our door handle, packages delivered from the other end of town in a literal meal train of mom’s. Dishes and meals left on our counter, stacked in the fridge, and bags of the most delicious muffins my kids have ever eaten, have been stacked in our cupboards.
The only downside: my kids will never again eat my muffins.
How do I convey the gratitude I feel?
Some of these women I’ve met in passing. Others are lifelong friends. Some I’ve never met face to face and others are former clients.
Thanks to them my husband could focus on my kids, who were confused and unsettled by the turn of events that left their mom unable to mother them in the way they’re used to.
Thanks to them I could focus on healing instead of worrying about feeding and taking care of my family.
I will thank each and every one of them but I will also repay their kindness by paying it forward to other families ‘s in need. When someone else needs help I will offer what I can. I now know that when you need help it’s hard to ask but that it’s much easier to say yes when it’s offered.
From my family to yours