Recently, I got a gift certificate to a website that personalizes products and bought something. My husband cracked up when I opened the package and pulled out a cherry-red dish imprinted with the words “Yay! Ellen Baked!” This is because I never bake. I’m not much of a cook, either.
I had the best of intentions for that pie dish, but it sat in a kitchen cabinet unused, until last week. That’s when I begged our babysitter to make a quiche for me because company was coming over. I felt only a twinge of ridiculousness.
One of my first sentences as a child, my mother has told me, was “I do it myself!” As a mom, my motto is more like “I’ll do nothing myself!” Getting another mom to drive my daughter to a weekend birthday party? Of course. Asking a parent to sub in for me at a school outing I can’t make? Sure. Having neighbor pick up something for me at Whole Foods? Totally. Begging moms on a local e-loop to put me in touch with their handyman/painter/plumber? A no-brainer (although I draw the line at asking a fellow mom to fix our running toilet herself).
My switch from indie woman to codependent mom happened literally at my son’s birth. He ended up in the NICU, and I was so grateful to come home from the hospital and find a casserole waiting for me on the front porch. When my sister wanted to clean my house in the weeks that followed, I was perfectly fine with that. In the years that have followed, I have been so glad for help wherever I can get it. Yes, my husband and I share responsibilities, more or less (sometimes too much less). The thing is, I see so many moms juggling it all, and taking pride in it. I say, get some friends in on that act: Motherhood is too hard to pull off on your own. Not only does having other moms pitch in save me time and spare me stress, it gives my soul a we’re-in-this-together infusion of comfort.
To be sure, I pay it back. I run a Girl Scout troop I started for working moms like me, which meets weekday evenings. If I’m headed to IKEA or some other far-flung store, I’ll ask friends if they need anything. I gladly pet sit (though nobody would want me to watch their fish). It feels good to give help. It feels even better to receive.
Motherhood would be a far richer, less stressful experience if only we reached out to help each other more often. Maybe it takes a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to help a mom retain her sanity.
Oh, and feel free to ask if you can borrow my pie dish.
Photo credit: Flickr/Peter Alfred Hess