Over the past couple of days, I’ve had a couple of my neighbor friends ask me to get their kids on or off the bus and keep them for a short time between. Usually when they ask, they say “I’m really sorry to ask this, but…” or “I hate to ask you again…”
I’ve started many questions with this apology, too.
Especially because I am already getting my own kids on or off the bus, this is no extra work for me. It’s something I am doing anyway and it breaks up our after school routine.
Let me tell you about a thing called “friend math”. Sometimes 1 (of mine) + 1 (of their friends) = 0 work for me. Instead of 1+1= the work of 2, they are actually playing with each other, not asking me to play on an iPad or to get them a snack.
Something I learned early on in motherhood is that we all need to ask for help. We need our tribe of moms to lean on when we are stuck in the check out line and won’t be home in time to meet the bus, have an appointment that would be basically hell to bring the kids along, or (in my case) a gymnastics drop off that your other kids dread, and would rather continue to play with friends than sit in the car for 40 minutes.
And when you ask me for help, it gives me permission to ask for help, too. When you apologize for asking, do I need to apologize for needing help too?
Let’s lean on each other for help unapologetically and offer back that help enthusiastically…
Now, after I shared about this on my Instagram Stories yesterday, one of my closest friends sent me a text. “Did I really hear you say you would offer to have other kids over after the bus stop?”
This friend has known me for a long time. She remembers well, the days when my kids were little, watching extra littles is not something I would offer. When it came to changing other kids’ diapers or helping with potty or dealing with naps, I wouldn’t eagerly jump to help. I was already so tired and overwhelmed by such things with my own, so when someone else would ask, I would usually come up with an excuse why I couldn’t.
Even then, I would have friends who would put me in a position where I would feel like I couldn’t say ‘no’ and leave me resentful and stressed. Of course it was up to me to be honest, but I would agree out of guilt or appearing rude. There was a very long season that I struggled to ask for help because I absolutely could not reciprocate in this capacity, and I would resent those who asked me.
It’s taken me a long time to get to a point where I could say “no” when I know I would be overextended. It’s taken a decade of motherhood to know my boundaries. I have stopped feeling guilty when I say “no” to helping a friend at the cost of my sanity and started offering only when I can do it with a generous spirit. The best mom friends are those whom you can openly and willingly help and ask for help.
Take an oath with me —
I will not offer help if I am going to resent others. I will not agree to things if it truly is going to make my day more difficult or chaotic than it already is. I will also ask for what I need without apologizing first.
But getting your fully toilet-trained kids from the bus stop? That is zero extra work. When I offer or agree to help, know that I’m doing it freely and gladly, without keeping score or counting down the minutes until you are back. And when I ask? I hope you will be honest with me, too.
Share this with your “safe place” mamas, please. The ones you have counted on in the past and could call today in need. Because the little things become the big things, and trusted friends can make all the difference.