We have a screened porch that feels a little bit like a retreat on a beautiful day. It has become a gathering place for our family where laughs are heard, cuddles are felt and deep conversations occur. Somehow this peaceful place becomes a danger zone for birds who unknowingly fly in and cannot escape. We watch them struggle to find their way while they continuously run into the screen. Their wings begin to flap faster and faster as their anxiety grows. Inevitably, we have to get a net and coax them to the door to escape. As they fly away, their wings become straight as they soar into the sky.
Motherhood can be a lot like this. Children are amazing little creatures and it is a glorious thing to be a mother. The laughs, cuddles and the conversations are immeasurable. Then, somehow this glorious thing becomes hard, exhausting and overwhelming. It can feel like you’re continuously ramming your head into a wall you can’t even see. Everywhere you turn, there are more obstacles and problems. Your anxiety grows because you just don’t see a way out.
Just like the bird who tries to flutter his wings faster, I tend to work harder and faster to accomplish so much. And like the bird, I burn out quickly. It’s interesting how the bird can’t see the door — the way out — that is right in front of his eyes. I too get so bombarded, so buried that I don’t see the help right in front of me.
Thankfully, I have an observant husband who recently saw me crashing under the waves of life and threw me a life preserver before I drowned in the sea of motherhood. It was one of those moments where the school projects, toddler meltdowns, teething baby and sick kids were getting the best of me. I was in survival mode and honestly not doing a good job at it.
He sent me a text to notify me that he called in a dear friend to sit with our youngest child for a few hours a week so I could have a moment of solitude. A moment to grocery shop, go to the gym, go to a doctor’s appointment or anything I needed to accomplish by myself. Solitude. Isn’t that an amazing gift as a mom with little ones in tow, beckoning for your every moment?
However, because I’m a stubborn one, I declined. I took the mom road of “I’m fine. I can do this. This is just a bad stretch.” Again, my husband knew better and really wouldn’t accept my excuses as he had already made the arrangements.
Even as I write this, I have a sudden urgency to explain all the circumstances that brought me to this point of needing help. However, I will forcefully refrain, give myself grace and leave it at the fact that I needed help. Deep down inside I knew this and my husband definitely knew it.
So, a friend who has always demonstrated a servant’s heart offered 1-2 mornings during the week to give me some reprieve. We agreed on once a week because again, I’m stubborn and this was so difficult for me. I absolutely love to give to others, however receiving isn’t my strength. I’m not even average at it. I’m actually horrible at accepting help. Of course, my husband and friend were fully aware of this.
Accepting help was so hard, but after a few weeks of enabling someone to utilize their gift of serving, I realized it was just the gift I needed. While I still struggle with accepting help, I know this has made me a more rational mom and an overall healthier person. The more I view myself from the lens of reality, I see that I’m limited and need help. I realize that I’m of little value to my family when I am running on the verge of burnout.
It’s definitely a process to humble myself to accept help, but I’m learning that I don’t have to continuously run myself into the fictional porch screen to prove I can do it all. I don’t have to flutter my wings faster and harder. Instead, I can accept the safety net, move towards the open door and straighten my wings as I soar into the beautiful day that has existed the entire time.