A couple days ago I picked up my oldest daughter Amanda and her two little ones (10 weeks and 16 months) and brought her and three other daughters on the trek to Boise to visit new-momma Erika and her two precious little ones. (It’s actually only a 40 minute drive, but any trip that involves toddlers and hungry nurslings always ends up feeling like a trek.)
When we got to Erika’s, new big brother Ranger greeted us with much happy squealing, and the baby-admiring commenced. Once we’d done a bit of baby snuggling and picture taking, Erika, who is a very smart momma indeed, confessed (only slightly sheepishly) that she had a list of things she was hoping we could help her with while we were there.
We all plunged in and made ourselves useful. Some of the girls played with the little boys outside. Others of us straightened the living room, did dishes, helped Erika put away her maternity clothes, tossed laundry in the wash, and warmed up dinner. By the time we left, Erika’s world was a little more orderly, and we all had the fun of knowing we’d blessed her with our assistance.
On the drive home, I was thinking back to my own days of new motherhood. I’m pretty sure I was way too independent for my own good, and not near as good as Erika at asking for help. I can think of a few times I asked my momma for help, and of course lots of folks brought meals when new kiddos arrived. But I’m sure that I plowed quietly through the fog of exhaustion lots of times when friends and family would have been happy to lend a hand.
I think sometimes we don’t ask for help because we don’t want to be a bother. But mothering is such hard work. We all could benefit from a bit more support. And really, the helpers are just as blessed as the folks they are helping– it’s a good feeling to know that we made someone’s life a little easier. I think we mommas need to keep that side of the coin in mind, and not be so slow to ask for help.
The beauty of Erika’s list was that we could help her in exactly the way that most blessed her. I’d not have thought to help her put away maternity clothes– I still needed mine for at least a couple weeks (months?) after birth! But it was one of the things she most wanted done. It’s also a really beautiful thing to be a part of a community of folks who take turns supporting each other. A couple months ago Amanda was the one whose house we were whirling through, setting things to right. This week Amanda helped do the same thing for Erika. And the grown girls have already told the younger ones that when it’s their turn to have babies, the kids that are now babies will be helping them. (That idea brought giggles to my little girls– it sounded so far away to them!)
What did people do for you that was most welcome? I’d love to hear ideas for adoptive families too. Casseroles are always welcome contributions to new families, as are offers to stop by the grocery store for a few items. There are lots of other things we could do to support the mommas around us. Some needs will be slightly different for adoptive moms than for moms of newborns. For example, newborns don’t usually mind being passed around from person to person, but the last thing a toddler from an orphanage needs is to be passed from stranger to stranger. But all moms need to be loved and supported during this time of huge adjustment in their lives. Whether you’re an adoptive mom or a bio mom, I’d love to hear from you. What ideas do you have that could bless a tired new momma?
And finally, I just have to share this picture of my girls with their precious ones. They are such good mommas and I am so very proud of them!