Five years ago, we added our fifth child, Anna, to our family. It was the beginning of the Christmas season, she slept through the night the first week, and her siblings ADORED her. My memories of that time are precious and happy and glowing – except for one thing. In addition to this new baby, I also had four other kids who were old enough to be involved in things like swim team, basketball practice, piano lessons, and dance classes. My husband worked a side job at night, which meant that I spent several hours each evening taxiing kids back and forth to various practices and lessons. Which also meant that I had a screaming baby in the back seat who just wanted to nurse for more than five minutes at a time.
It seems silly, but those few months stick out as some of my most stressful in eighteen years of parenting. The vicious cycle of trying to get the baby fed and into her car seat in a certain number of minutes, or waking the baby so that we could deliver someone to basketball practice, or showing up late to pick up a kid from dance just about did me in.
As I look back on all of this five years later, I realize I should have done one of two things (hindsight is so awesome, isn’t it?).
- Quit some of those activities –
- Ask for help!
For some reason, I did neither of those things. I stayed on that hamster wheel and just kept running. Here’s what I wish, though. I wish I had reached out to friends and family and said, “I need help.” If I had simply asked, I know they would have been happy to pick a kid up from swimming now and then or drop one off at piano lessons. And I think I have one or two friends who would not have considered it a hardship to come over and hold the baby for an hour while I ran around town doing what needed to be done.
Friends, can I encourage you today to ask for help if you need it? You might not have a baby crying in the back seat. Instead, you might be emotionally fragile during this season. Or maybe you can’t figure out how to fix a decent dinner. Perhaps you need someone to help you be accountable in some area of your life.
Asking for help is hard for me because I don’t want to admit that I don’t have it all together, and I hate to inconvenience other people. Ironically, though, I love it when my friends are honest about their specific needs and allow me to help them. It’s a beautiful privilege to pick up the slack for a friend who is struggling. It’s just as beautiful, though, to humble ourselves and accept help from others. But first we have to ask. If you’re struggling today, allow a friend to pray for your marriage, to teach you how to keep a budget, or maybe just come over and hold the baby.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10