A few years ago, I found myself in a pretty helpless situation. I had my second baby, a surgery and moved across the country all within one crazy month. Shortly after I arrived at our new home, I became very ill and needed urgent hospital attention. I knew practically no one in our new community, and with no other option, I found myself gratefully accepting help from neighbors who were essentially strangers.
They watched our kids while I was at the hospital. They brought meals in after I came back home. They carried our family through the week and supported me in my recovery afterwards. I felt overwhelming gratitude to them for all the ways they reached out to us.
This is a far cry from the me I was before then—the kind of person who refused help from mom friends when I truly did need it. I must have sounded like a broken record: "No, we're good!" "We'll be OK, but thank you for being so sweet!"
I now see what a colossal mistake I had been making all those years. By being so stubborn about doing everything myself, I was missing an opportunity to deepen a bond and truly connect with someone.
I now try to look out for times when my friends or neighbors need help and support so that I can be there for them. I also try to say yes more often when sincere friends offer a helping hand. Without fail, helping another mama out deepens my bond of friendship with her. And letting other mamas support me allows me to feel more deeply seen, understood and appreciated by them.
Real friendship is showing up for a mom and letting her show up for you.
Why do we say no to help? Perhaps we worry we'll inconvenience a friend. Or maybe we're concerned she'll perceive us as weak or needy if we admit to needing help. Whatever the reason, acting like we don't need help when we truly do doesn't do our relationships—or our well-being—any good.
We talk about needing a village to raise our kids and every mama wants a tribe, but sometimes we don't have the courage to be vulnerable with each other. To ask for help and receive it. To notice when another needs help and give it.
These are levels of friendship deeper than having yoga pants and messy buns in common. Real friendship is showing up for a mom and letting her show up for you. These genuine friendships sustain us in hard times and leave indelible marks on our lives.
So, the next time you feel lonely and overwhelmed, and a friend stops by unannounced, let her into your messy house. You need her friendship more than she needs to believe you're a perfect housekeeper.
When another mom offers to bring you soup or popsicles when your kids are sick, take her up on it. You'll surely have the chance to return the favor someday. And do it.
If a gal pal notices dirty dishes in your sink and offers to help you wash them, hand her some scrub gloves, turn up the Bruno Mars and get it done together.
Some of my most treasured moments with friends have been the simple moments when I allowed them to take care of me. The more we support one another, the stronger our mom tribes and villages will become, and the less lonely we will feel on this awesomely hard journey of motherhood.