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An Open Letter to Moms Who Won’t Ask for Help

Dear Mama Who Won’t Ask for Help,

I can see it in your eyes — the fatigue, that is. I’m not judging you because I am you. Or, at least I used to be. This letter is not intended to make you feel bad. I know you work hard. I can see it in your stride. Like me, you are probably running on three to four hours of sleep but strangers wouldn’t be able to know this. You look alert.

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I've seen you while picking my daughter up from daycare and you were beaming over your son’s son’s 482nd drawing from this week. You gave him a high five and his entire face lit up. I glanced at you and smiled at me as you grabbed his hand and briskly ran out of the door. “We’ve got to hurry home and get dinner started,” I overheard you say.

I’ve seen you at the airport, too. I was traveling for business and you had one baby in a carrier, you were holding the hand of your oldest and you were pushing a stroller. The toddler in your stroller was begging for juice and you looked so frazzled. Your oldest also began to cry and I asked I walked over and asked you if I could help with anything. You declined because I am a stranger and no way in hell would you let me near your sweet babies. You’ve watched enough episodes of "20/20" to give you nightmares.

I’m pretty sure I've seen you at Starbucks, too. You were getting a venti latte while juggling a baby in your arms. I’ve seen you at playgroups, attempting to socialize with the moms you’ve never met. You probably want to talk to them but they all seem to have their own clique. And would they really understand you?

You’re a stay at home mom. You’re a working mom. You’re a single mom. You’re a mom whose husband is deployed. You’re a gay mom. You’re a mom of twins. You’re a mom who has six children. You’re a mom who is struggling with infertility. You’re a mom with a chronic illness. You’re a mom battling addiction. You’re a mom who needs help.

We are superheroes in our own right, but even superheroes need help. And guess what? That’s OK.

Chances are you won’t ask for help. Somewhere someone told us moms that we can do it all on our own. We can run our households, maintain our looks, mental health, jobs and relationships flawlessly. Help is for the weak and you aren’t weak. You are a woman AND a mom. You are strong and you don’t need help. Or so you think.

But you do need help and that’s OK. Your strength is not determined by your ability or inability to ask for help. You could use it, right? Were you like me and told everyone that you didn’t need help shortly after giving birth? You wanted to do it all on your own, right? Why? What are we trying to prove? Why do we push away help when we really need it?

You have to stop this, mama. We can’t do it all. It’s impossible. We are superheroes in our own right, but even superheroes need help. And guess what? That’s OK.

Also, have you ever thought that sometimes people really want to help you? We are friends and I offered to cook you a meal when your husband left town. You told me, “No.” I told you that it was okay to call me if you needed me to watch your baby while you got a few extra hours of sleep. You told me, “Sleep can wait.” I had no problem with you dropping your kid off to my own while you went on a date with your boyfriend. You declined. Please stop that. My wanting to help you does as much for me as it will for you.

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It takes a village, and I want to be a part of your village. Look around. There are a lot of people who want to be a part of your village. But you have to open the door.


The Mama Who Needs to Take Her Own Advice

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