Mama, Ask for Help

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tired working mom with baby

Being a mother is so rewarding and such a beautiful thing. I am thankful for those days that I get to wake up, sip my coffee in silence, and anticipate the sounds of little feet shuffling across the floor. The days I get to create memories with my children fill my cup, much like that first cup of coffee I get to enjoy in solitude. Many days I am exhausted from the busyness of creating beautiful memories with these tiny humans. There are times that I tell them, “I missed you while you were sleeping,” and I mean it. But, can I be truthful here for a moment? Some moments of parenting are not warm and fuzzy. Some days, it is HARD! Like, the hardest ever. There are times when it gets ugly and I just absolutely do not feel like adulting. I realize now more than ever that I deserve the quiet moments to pause and regain my sanity.

Pretty Ugly

There are moments when I am exhausted and frustrated from the day-to-day tasks of making sure that every need is taken care of, like the following:

  • Policing food and nutrition (because I have a child with food allergies, and I also want my family to practice a healthy eating lifestyle)
  • Managing my own feelings
  • Teaching independence to my children
  • Trying to give myself alone time in the bathroom (you know what I mean!)

Mental burnout is not an issue that I hear discussed often. Recently, my seven-year-old came up to me while I was cooking and helping my other child with homework. I was trying to make sure the school work was done, feed the kids, and get us all out of the house in time for baseball practice. She was whining for what seemed like the millionth time that afternoon about a “bleeding” hangnail. That tiny, microscopic, speck of blood caused me to act out and throw an adult tantrum. “Ok!” I said with frustration as I threw the stirring spoon in the sink. “That’s it! From now on, I will only help you to solve one problem a day.  I cannot help with more than that, so I hope that you choose wisely what you need.”  I went to my room, slammed the door, and left her to figure things out.  I felt awful. 

Teacher Becomes the Student

As the dust settled, I realized that I needed to have a productive conversation with my child. I returned back to validate her feelings. You see, I’m a very intentional parent. I never intend to dismiss her feelings, fears, or concerns because they are valid to her. But, I needed help. I needed her help just as much as she needed mine. As I sat on the floor, I wrapped her in my arms and kissed her. I explained how I needed her to solve some of her own problems that I was not able to assist with. I encouraged her to give me those that were too big for her to fix. Then, I coached her in asking herself, “Can I handle this on my own right now, or do I need to ask for help?” 

Interestingly, in that moment, I realized that I could greatly benefit from my own advice, but in the opposite manner. I needed to ask for help with those things that were too big for me to handle in the moment. I was burned out and the proof was in the pudding. This was certainly a teachable moment for the both of us. We both need to know when to ask for help.

Recognizing Burnout

Parental burnout is a real issue. Experiencing this does not make you a bad parent. You will experience it at some point because it is par for the course. When you parent well, you will grow tired at times. It’s okay to step back for a moment, take a time-out, assess, and ask for help. When my son was diagnosed with multiple life-threatening food allergies, I soon realized that I needed to garner support from my family and friends. Pulling into a McDonald’s drive through for chicken nuggets and fries after a long day at work was never an option for our family.

In those early years as I cared for an infant and toddler, there were many times that I, Mrs. Do-It-All, had to recognize that I needed help and had to allow support into my life. (One of the ways that Chop Friendly serves families is by providing help to mamas who need it—the mamas who are managing food allergies, kids, and life in between.) My babies are now growing up and I am still learning to recognize when I’m fizzling out and need to call in the troops. And guess what? That is okay! I’m recognizing, learning, applying, and growing, so you can too.

Local Resources

Asking for help does not look the same for every mama out there. Just like every child is unique, every mom is different, too! None of us have the same life circumstances. Below, I’ve compiled a list of suggestions and resources from other mom friends that might assist you as you ask for help where you need it.

Remember, it is okay to not be okay! That doesn’t make you less than the great mother you are. Our children love us unconditionally and are looking to us as we lead them by example. Mama, ask for what you need and place those problems that are too big for you to handle into someone else’s hands!

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Tanisha Foster, a savvy and ambitious STEM & health educator and community organizer is the founder of Chop Friendly. She started Chop Friendly in 2018 after teaching her family, friends, and those caring for her toddler son how to offer him safe allergy-free foods. Tanisha is now promoting food allergy awareness and inclusion by educating and providing tools to families, schools, day cares, restaurants, and the community. As a mom-preneur and health expert constituent and grassroots advocate, Tanisha works alongside FARE to support state and national legislature of food allergies and with recent laws such as the FASTER Act.

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