The hardest lesson I learned in my first year of motherhood

When I look back on my first year as a mother, one of my biggest setbacks was not asking for or accepting more help. Photo: Ann Blake

“Help me.” “I need you to…” “Can you please…?” These are all simple ways of asking for support. But as a strong-willed mother, I’ve found doing just that to be my greatest challenge yet.

There’s a chapter in just about every parenting book I’ve read, or an excerpt on most mom’s lifestyle websites, with tips on how to ask for help with your new baby.

“Experts” strongly recommend that you establish a village of people who can support you — whether that’s preparing a home cooked meal, caring for your child while you catch up on sleep or doing a few loads of laundry. These individuals may even act as a sounding board when you’re feeling hopeless with sleep training (We still haven’t mastered this) or struggling with separation anxiety.

But when you’ve spent most of your adult life not depending on anyone to get the job done, leaning on others doesn’t come easy.

I vividly remember the day I brought my son from the hospital. I placed him in the SNOO and headed straight to the kitchen to clean and cook. Despite still aching from a natural birth, as well as, having my partner and mother under the same roof, I still had to do things my way. Whenever they’d offered guidance, I’d either take heed long enough to take a sitz bath and change into a fresh nursing gown or shrug it off with a “but this is how I want to…” attitude.

I continued on this do-it-yourself-to-get-it-done-path-of-parenting for months. But then the pressure of a new baby and maintaining my role as head of household began to chip away at my emotional and physical wellbeing. I’d put on a good face for the sake of my son, trying my best not to transfer “bad” energy onto his pure spirit. While his illuminating presence lifted me up when the weight of the world felt like too much, I needed a lifeline (or two).

In the words of Eryn Amel: “Mom’s tired, but mom’s here.” Photo: Ann Blake

During a postpartum visit from my doula Jenna of Love Over Fear Wellness and Birth LLC, Jenna reminded me of the importance of finding my mommy tribe. I reached out to women I admired and respected, including Myleik Teele, Patrice SoSoo and Kerstin Shamberg. Each of these fierce mamas (and many others) poured so much into me and did so in such a nonjudgmental manner, that I could gradually start to liberate myself from this ideal of perfection.

I also built the courage to ask my partner for his support in returning to my yoga practice. Mindful meditation, stretching and breathing on the mat has always grounded me. I’m proud to brag that he even went as far as getting me new yoga ‘fits so that I looked my best as I made my transition back into a place of peace. And when scheduling didn’t permit me leaving my son at home with dad for an hour or two, I found a yoga class just for mommy and baby so that I could introduce him to this self-care practice.

Fast-forward one year into motherhood (wow, I made it one year!) and asking for support has gotten a tad bit easier. What has helped is not expecting others to be who they aren’t or do things how I would and being receptive to a helping hand before allowing the crippling fear of disappointment to take over. Most importantly, allowing my village to step in and assist with caring for my son (and me), affords me the invaluable opportunity to pause, breathe and release control.

Hey Beauties: Are you a mother or parent who has struggled with asking for help? Or receiving support? Let’s discuss. Tell me more in the comments section!

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