It took me until I had 3 rug rats under the age of 4 before I realized I was not, in fact, super mom. With one I was fine and I could do all things. With two I was slightly frazzled but by days end could accomplish all that needed to be. With three? Forgetaboutit.
I remember the horrible feeling. I remember the dashed pride. I remember looking at my husband and saying, “Help?”
It’s not that he didn’t help. Not that at all! He did. He worked hard and played with the kids when he got home. He would chuck them in the bath and get them jammied up. He did all of the things that he saw that there was to do. It was the things that he didn’t see that I needed help with though.
Like the floors haven’t been vaccumed in weeks and the laundry hamper is spilling over and the ring in the bathtub is probably never coming out at this point. It wasn’t just the loading and unloading of dishwasher that I needed help with, it was all of it. I needed help with all of it.
Help to feel sane and help to rock babies and help with choosing immunization schedules and pre-schools and how to celebrate their birthdays. I needed help mending the owies and soothing young souls and teaching all the things that humans need to know to 3 little people.
I was at my end and I realized that if I kept going at this pace I would crumble. So I whispered the words in the form of a question. Help?
How silly it is of us to think that people will see us as weak when we ask for help. How silly it is for us to think that people will judge and look down and mutter things like, “well, maybe you shouldn’t have had so many kids if you can’t handle it!” How ridiculous that we feel less than adequate for not being able to accomplish every single thing involving our own souls as well as the very lives of many little humans all on our own.
It’s nonsense, I tell you! So stop it!
Since those early days of realizing my need for more than myself to do this thing I have come to love the phrase, “It takes a tribe.” Because it does. Literally.
But we don’t live in the jungle and we aren’t all gathered for shared meals every day. Instead, we live in the Western World where individualism is hailed as king and neediness makes you weak. We have our own houses and make our own meals and will make our own decisions involving everything our kids do. We don’t like to rely on anyone for anything or we feel like we may have to repay the favour and nobody wants THAT hanging over their head.
I can’t help but think we’ve got it all wrong though, this individualistic way of life. That it only breeds arrogance and pride. Judgement and loneliness. We were made for community. Even in the early days of scripture there was always an ‘us’. There was the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. There was only Adam but then really soon after there was Eve. There was family and community and the bond of relationship. This is what our souls long for, how we function best, in short, what we need!
So why are we so afraid to ask for help when we need it? I can only assume it’s our pride.
Yesterday I got three different text messages that made my heart swoon. That reinforced our need for each other. That reminded me that we are not in this thing alone. That we’re all in it in different ways and different seasons but we need each other exactly every single day.
The first one said something along the lines of, I can’t believe I’m telling you this but…. The second was an update on a diagnosis of a beautiful boy. Yes. Autistic. Here we go. The third a simple and slightly panicked, help! My daughter needs to be at work in 20 minutes and I’m no where near home, can you take her?
All of which require only one answer. Yes. I know. We’re here. We’ve been there. It’s awful and it’s wonderful. God has you. God has this. I’ve got your back. Yes. Yes I can help and yes I will pray and yes it’s going to be so hard. Yes. We are here for you for the bigs and the smalls and the everything in betweens. We’re here for the emotional wilderness and the overwhelmed, I think I’m going to vomit, moments and the quick fixes of hopping in a car for 10 minutes. Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes!!
Because it takes a tribe.
I realized during this day that what I saw in each of these friends, tribe members if you will, reaching out is how strong they are. I didn’t for a second view one of them as weak for not having it quite all together in a way that we sometimes feel we must. Instead it drew me closer to them in love because I realized that on many of my days I feel just the same and it’s okay cause they do too. I realized that it takes guts to ask for help and here they are so brave. I realized how each of these women have been their for me on a thousand different occasions and I rejoiced in the fact that today I could be there for them. Because tribes can’t be one-sided. Community isn’t formed by only one person giving all the time and the other taking. It’s built on a recognition that I need you and you need me. It’s built on a foundation of knowing that without each other we’d fall apart. Without each other we’d throw up our hands and crawl under the covers and feel the burden of these enormous weights all alone and we would all be so much worse off if that were the case.
Instead there were whispers of help. Moments of this is heavy and I need you. Admissions that I don’t know what to do here.
It was beautiful and holy. It was surrender and humility. It was my people, my tribe.
I hope you have a tribe. I hope you have people. If you don’t, I encourage you to be the one to step out first. Ask for help. Admit weakness. Be vulnerable. There are people out there who are willing, oh so willing to help. There are people out their who desire community as much as you. There are people who want to serve you and pray for you and talk through the hard things with you. But sometimes you have to go first. Cause why should they, y’know?
Be brave in admitting you need someone, sisters. We all do. Because it really does take a tribe.