Whatever time of year, I can attest to the fact that moms need help. But during the holidays, we may need help even more and in a different way. Enjoy this gem from Tasha…
Holidays? Moms Need Help in the Trenches
By Tasha Hackett
When moms need help desperately but don’t even know where to start…
Shucks, life is fun, amiright? Those cute baby snuggles, warm apple pie, bright orange leaves in piles, glittering snow, creamy hot-chocolate, sizzling butter and garlic… mmmm. But geez, Moms need help. I need help. We mothers of young people are overwhelmed. The close-knit communities aren’t there anymore. Everyone has their own life and responsibilities. Social media, though originally designed to bring us together, only makes us feel worse. With the holidays upon us, where can I even start to get help?
“Happiness is a decision,” said the well-meaning, but unhelpful person.
I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Happiness is a decision. For the overwhelmed mom, that is as unhelpful as telling her, “Enjoy them! They grow up so fast.” (Read Laura’s post on what to say instead.) Truthfully, it’s not helpful to say either of those things to the mother who dreads going to sleep at night because she knows the baby is going to wake in 45 minutes and then cry for the next two hours before he sleeps for another 45 … and the mother who dreads the morning because the other three littles are going to want to eat and wear clothes and they’re going to chatter and need love and attention and they’ll play and make messes.
Perhaps that mom is dealing with a cloud of emotional strain and doesn’t even know what she needs because her brain is overwhelmed from the aforementioned sleep deprivation and she forgot to eat food again. (Would it fool anyone if I said these were hypothetical examples? I was there last year.)
To quote Rabbit and Winnie-the-Pooh, “How about Lunch?”
Don’t tell her happiness is a decision, what she needs is (Okay, yes, Jesus. She needs Jesus, but also,) sleep. She needs sleep and she needs food, and she needs to know that she is in a place that won’t last forever. Her people need to support her with prayers for peace from the Holy Spirit in order to fully embrace life at home with littles. What really helps her is an older mom to say, “It’s gonna be okay. And I’ll bring dinner over at 5:00 pm.” And when that is offered, she needs to accept it and say, “Thank you.” If all the real moms will please stand up and support each other, we’ll be okay.
Moms need help. Mmk? We may need lots of help for the Holidays. The sooner we can embrace that, the happier we will be.
When my firstborn was a few months old, Ben and I had opposite shifts. I worked days, he worked evenings and weekends. Saturdays were LOOOOONG. I was 100% an extravert (still am), trapped at home for 12 hours with a tiny baby that didn’t sleep much and cried when left alone. The emotional strain to be EVERYTHING for this tiny human ate at my core and I was isolated, worn out, drained, and lonely.
I was (am) an interesting person with a broad skill set and none of that mattered on a twelve-hour workday with an infant. What mattered was giving, and giving, and giving. Spit-up on my pants, milk stains on my shirts, the house falling apart, chores half-done… you know. Foremost priority was loving this child, but it was breaking me in two.
One evening I sucked up my pride and walked myself to the neighbors: “I need help. I feel like I’m falling to pieces. He cries unless I hold him, and I’ve hardly been able to eat and I could really use a shower. Would you be willing to keep him for half an hour?” She said she’d gladly hold him for as long I needed. I showered. Cried. I ate some food. Cried. I pulled myself together and went back to claim my baby. He was happy. The neighbors were happy. And that evening will stick with me forever as the first time I was brave enough to ask for help.
What does this have to do with moms and help for the holidays?
This season is going to be different. Know your limits and go easy on yourself. Don’t try to make everything perfect. Ask for help. Take time to enjoy this season as best as you can. Have fun.
As a mother, wife, and homemaker, why do we play the martyr when no one has asked it of us? I’ve been in hard places far too many times the past eight years where the service of my community has kept me from falling apart.
I’m afraid to share this because you may be astounded, “Tasha sounds depressed! She has anxiety.” What if you read this and think, “I can’t relate to this at all. Tasha needs help…” Um… yes. That’s the whole thing here. I do need help, but listen up, I’ve talked with many other young moms and we are all in the same boat! Some more than others, of course, but the general consensus is that WE DON’T HAVE IT FIGURED OUT. The water is pouring in faster than we can bail it out. We are in desperate need of older women to come alongside and get into the trenches to show us the way out.
Calling all experienced mothers! Moms need help!
In tears, five years ago I called an older friend, (her youngest was six, oldest in high school,). I was home with a baby and a chatty 3-year-old. I said, “I have to get out. Can you come? I just need 10 minutes.” She said, “I’ll be there in five.”
No joke. I had my coat on, boots tied, and was pulling on my gloves when she pulled into my driveway. I left the house and took off running. Literally. I’m sure I was a sight. I made it three blocks before I slowed because January-in-Nebraska. Five degrees is too cold to be gulping air.
I let the wind suck my breath away. Crying, I begged God to bring me peace. What was wrong with me that I couldn’t enjoy my two precious babies?
Dear mothers of young children, you are not broken.
Author Johann Hari says to those with depression/anxiety, “You are not broken, you’re not weak, you’re not crazy. You’re not a machine with broken parts, you are a human being whose needs are not being met.” Loneliness, loss of control of your environment, the inability to get outside, feeling your life has no purpose, not feeling valued, emotional needs that are not being met, grief (perhaps the grief of lost freedoms?) are all causes of depression and anxiety. (Watch his TED Talk here.) If you’d like to learn more about this, read Hari’s book Lost Connections. He is not a Christian, but his research is phenomenal and while reading his book, I was astounded at how many things correlated with the overwhelm that is common with stay-at-home moms.
Help for the weary (even during the holidays)
God promises rest for the weary and my logical brain argues, “Yea, but… you gave me four kids.” He promises peace and I say, “Yea, but, somebody still has to make food and do dishes.” When he reprimands Martha and nods in approval at Mary sitting at his feet, I say, “Mmmk…. But, I have toddler boys who literally pee all over the toilet and the floor.”
Laura keeps reminding us that Jesus takes over and it’s not her doing it, but him. What does that look like? I think it looks like being able to have fun, being at peace, even while wiping pee off the floor.
For the older moms:
Look around your community and find a young mother to adopt.
Pray for the young mothers by name and ask for peace.
For the younger moms:
- Know your limits.
- Use simple meals when time and brain power is limited.
- Ask for help.
- Hire help if you can.
- Set limits for yourself for what you can realistically accomplish.
- Don’t be a martyr when no one is asking it of you.
- Reach out to other young moms and get together regularly.
- Go outside at least once a day.
- Buy the High Five Recipes Printed Cookbook or Simple Real Food Recipes Cookbook for every adult (especially single adult brothers) on your Christmas list and consider your shopping done.
- Stop praying for God to take away the trials, instead pray for peace.
- Stop praying for patience, instead pray for peace.
- Pray for peace.
- Start a gratitude journal—it will be a blessing to look over it later.
Isaiah 40:11 “He gently leads those that have young.”
This is a revealing post. Rest assured, I am doing okay. Know why? Because I am continually asking for help. My heart aches for moms whose needs are not being met. I implore you to seek help. Help for moms can come in many different forms. For me, I’ve received it from doctors, counselors, parents, siblings, friends, neighbors, bible class teachers, elders, cousins, college roommates, my fitness coach, my husband, the librarian, and even my best friend from preschool.
Truly, you do not have to do this alone.
Tasha Hackett, friend of Laura, has four chatty children and a wonderfully supportive husband. It’s possible she was born in the wrong century, as she always dreamed of being friends with Laura Ingalls and Anne Shirley. Her debut novel, Bluebird on the Prairie, a historical romance set in 1879 Nebraska, will release Spring 2021. The clumsy antics of the hero, huge misunderstandings, and a humorous brother/sister relationship will keep you smiling, but you may need a tissue as the heroine works through grief. Thankfully, word on the street is the story has a happily ever after.