During a relatively grueling and difficult pregnancy, I thought there were certain things I had to do in order to be considered (by either myself or others) a "good mother." I thought I had to breastfeed; I thought I had to have a drug-free birth; I thought I had to love every aspect of motherhood and I thought I couldn't ask for help, because that would be admitting my dangerous inabilities and inevitable defeats. Well, I was wrong. Asking for help doesn't make you a bad mom and choosing or being unable to breastfeed doesn't make you a bad mom and having pain-numbing drugs or a scheduled c-section definitely doesn't make you a bad mom.
I did breastfeed, but only for seven months; I asked for an epidural after ten hours of drug-free, painful labor and I fumbled through those early months of motherhood, making too many mistakes to count and asking for any and all help I could get. My son still loves me wildly and is healthy and happy and thriving so, to me and the people that matter, I'm a good mother, despite doing all of the things I thought I couldn't (and shouldn't) do.
It's sad that so many mothers (especially new mothers) feel like they can't reach out and ask for help, lest they be endlessly and silently (or not so silently) judged for not either naturally knowing any of the endless, all-consuming aspects of motherhood, or for being exhausted by them. It's sad that society has put so much pressure on new mothers, that they fear reaching out for the help they need and deserve.
So, in an effort to combat the ridiculous notion that I, sadly, bought into for far too long, here are nine reasons why asking for help doesn't make you a bad mom. Go ahead, mothers the world over, and reach out when you feel like you need some assistance. I guarantee you it doesn't make you a bad parent, it just makes you a great human.
Motherhood Is Exhausting
I remember college being an exhausting experience, and I asked for help when I was going to class and working full time and trying to find some semblance of a social life. Why wouldn't I do the same, now that I'm a mother? Why wouldn't I reach out when I'm too tired to function, having skipped the last three nights of sleep to feed my kid, only to answer work emails and attend conference calls while he peacefully sleeps during the day? If you'd ask for help during any other time in your life (whether it's college, military service, a work project, you name it) I would say it's safe to ask for help when you're in charge of keeping another human being alive.
Parenting Isn't A One-Person Job
Whether you have a parenting partner to share the responsibilities with, or you don't and you rely on family members, friends, neighbors, a daycare, a nanny, a school teacher, whoever you trust with your kid; parenthood isn't a one-person job. It is not one person's sole responsibility and it most certainly shouldn't fall heavily on one particular person on a parenting team. Does everyone have the ability to split obligations evenly? Sadly, no, but everyone deserves to get some help. Something as important and heavy and taxing as raising a human being, requires outside assistance.
Your Kid Should Learn To Trust Others...
It took me far too long to learn to let go and let someone else take care of my kid, even my parenting partner. I didn't feel completely comfortable just letting someone care for my newborn while I, say, took a much-needed nap. Eventually, though, I realized that when I let someone else step up, my son was getting the chance to trust other people, too. He was able to see his father as someone he could rely on, and even his grandmother and his uncle. Those relationships are just as important as the relationship he has with me, and when I asked for help from those people, I let my son build and strengthen new connections with others.
...And Learn From/Rely On More People Than Just You
Which is why asking for help gives your kid the ability to learn that he or she can rely on someone else. That they can trust their other parent or that one teacher or that kind neighbor or that wonderful grandmother/grandfather, to be someone they can turn to. Not only does it lighten your load, but it gives your kid the ability to experience a world outside of the world you built for them.
Not Every Aspect Of Motherhood Will Come Naturally
Sure, more than a few natural instincts will kick in, but then again, maybe not. Every woman is different, so what comes naturally to one woman as a new mother, may not come naturally to another. And honestly, who in the hell just instinctively knows how to swaddle a newborn?
There's A Reason Why There Are People Who Will Help
Doctors and midwives and doulas and nurses and lactation consultants and mothers and fathers and grandparents and other parents; they all exist for a reason. There's no shame in using as many resources as humanly possibly, so you can feel comfortable and confident in your parenting. They're there for a purpose, guys. Yes, even the internet.
It's Healthy For Your Kid To Know It's Okay To Ask For Help
Just like it's good for your kid to see you make mistakes, it's good for your kid to see you ask for help. There will be plenty of times throughout the course of their lives, when they'll feel overwhelmed and in need of help. I don't know about you, but I definitely want my kid to feel comfortable asking for assistance whenever he needs it. I want him to know that there's no shame in admitting you're over your head or unsure of a situation.
You're A Human Being...
Yeah, you're a human, not some super hero. While there will be days when you feel like one (and those days are the best), motherhood doesn't endow you with super secret powers that make you impervious to pain or fatigue or confusion or one of the many feelings you'll inevitably find yourself experiencing as a parent.
...And There Isn't A Mom On The Planet Who Hasn't Needed Help
And trust me, new mom who wants to ask for help but doesn't feel like you should: you're not alone. I, personally, have asked for help approximately nineteen thousand times, and my son isn't even two years old. I'm going to ask for help no less than a million times before the kid even hits grade school, so trust me: you're not alone.