2015 was a year of humbling for me.
Being pregnant with Peach sent me into the worst physical pain, limitations, and frustrations I have ever had to experience. So many doctors, specialists, physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care! You name it, I tried it. I have suffered from SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction) with each of my pregnancies, but this last pregnancy raked me through the coals. I began dealing with pain earlier. I was using a cane earlier, and by 5 months I needed a walker. At 7 months, Milkman got me a wheelchair so I could leave the house if we were going somewhere that didn’t allow sitting the whole time.
There were times in the day when Milkman was at work where I was so incapacitated I would crawl across the house to get to the bathroom from the couch. There were many evenings where in order to get to our bedroom to get ready for bed, Milkman would essentially have to hold me up and kind of drag me to get there. Simple tasks like putting on underwear required my husband’s assistance.
On top of all that, I had nausea throughout my entire pregnancy. Many days I consisted on protein shakes and huge cups of ice, paired with Zofran and Zantac. It doesn’t get much more humbling for a woman with an “anything you can do, I can do better” attitude.
Every now and then, someone would offer to do something to help me out, and assuming they were asking out of guilt for my hobble, and not out of an actual desire to help, I would smile and assure them I had a handle on things. In reality, I spent many nights crying in pain, feeling inadequate. My family lived on really crappy meals, my house was in absolute shambles. Not just like things out of place– living in actual squalor. Dirty dishes for days, bathrooms going embarrassingly long without a good scrubbing (my favorite household chore normally!) Milkman tried his hardest to pick up my slack. After a long day at work, he was making dinner, cleaning the house as much as he had time for, tending to our toddlers, doing the bed time routine on his own. After the kids were in bed, he was folding laundry, helping me get my pajamas on, working more. He let me stay in bed in the mornings since I was in too much pain to get much sleep, making breakfast while on conference calls and wiping bottoms til I would text him that I was awake and needed help to get out of bed.
In all this, the man never complained. He has since told me that towards the end of my pregnancy, he was exhausted and frustrated and wanted to be done with it (me too, babe!) I feel like I could have saved him even some of that exhaustion by accepting the few offers for help that were offered to me.
Since becoming a mother in 2012, I have lamented about wanting “a village”. I have wanted the support of other mothers, someone to help me with my kids, someone I can help with their kids. Older women, teaching me helpful things. Meals exchanged, dishes washed for each other… Basically, women to help bear the beautiful burden of motherhood with. I have wished for it, prayed for it, and talked about it! Where is my unicorn commune, filled with other people like me??
I had Peach in October, and expected to heal up, just like I did after my first 3 pregnancies, and I didn’t. I am much better, but I still need a cane many days at parts of my day. I limp and I am sore and I am unable to do many of the things I would like to do. And last month, I decided I was done looking for a “village” to take me in and pamper me and make me their pet. I was going to start being the woman I wanted other women to be for me.
In one week, I had two friends and their households come down with illnesses. I remembered how hard it was to cook when I felt like crap and thought I would offer to bring them a meal. Right before I went to ask, I thought, “But I don’t have anything fancy to offer! I don’t have many fresh groceries!” And then I realized, those are exactly the thoughts that keep people from helping each other. I looked in my freezer and realized I had just the stuff I needed to make a vat of chicken soup. It bubbled away all day and when Milkman came home, I ventured out and dropped off portions at each house. Nothing fancy to go with it, no pretty pinterest labels to go with it. Just ugly chicken soup. A couple weeks ago my big sister and her clan all caught the flu. I was dealing with too much pain to make and deliver a meal, so Milkman grabbed them some pho and dropped it off. Nothing fancy. Not home made. But it helped her out.
The next week my friend from church texted to ask if she could randomly bring dinner over. I was just about to refuse. Then I realized just how nice it would be to not make dinner that night and I accepted, and was blessed with dinner from Cheesecake Factory (and cheesecake! OMGOODNESSYES). A meal when I didn’t need someone to bring me one because of illness? That’s a whole new level of awesome. I was humbled and blown away.
I can wait for my house to be spotless for you to come over, and then I’ll never invite you, because that’ll never happen. I can wait til I have the perfect 5 course meal to bring you some food, but then I won’t ever bring you a meal. I can wait til I have makeup on and hair done to say it’s alright for a play date, but then you’ll think you have to do that beforehand too. If the shoe is on the other foot, frankly, I don’t care what you are wearing, what your house looks like, and how many hours and dollars you spent on a meal for me. I just want to live life with other women. I want love and help and I want to do the same for you
I am not Supermom. I can’t do anything you can do better–I can’t even walk further than a few hundred feet without limping and clutching my cane. This year, I’m done refusing your help. I’m done waiting til the help I can offer is perfectly polished and pretty. I’m ready to start my own village. I’ll bring the ugly chicken soup, cooked on my dirty stove. Join me?
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