When Kiwi was a few months old, a friend texted me.
“I’m coming over. Be there in 15.”
I was a little surprised—we’d met a month or two earlier in moms’ group, and our babies were mere weeks apart, so we didn’t know each other terribly well. I didn’t really know what to expect.
When she arrived, I welcomed her into my home, trying not to think of the dog hair tumbleweeds and last night’s dinner-coated dishes still on the counter.
“I’m here to guerrilla help,” she said, stepping inside. “You never take me up on my offers to help. But here I am.”
She set down her baby, who was sleeping in her car seat, and asked if I’d rather she do a load of laundry or scrub my shower.
She ended up bouncing Kiwi, who woke up from a two-minute nap and refused to go back to sleep. But that was a bigger help than battling shower scum to a harried, exhausted, desperate mother who spent nearly every minute of the day trying to get a baby to sleep.
My friend did something special that day. She rescued me from one more attempt to bounce my baby to sleep—the time that may have pushed me over the edge. She let me know I wasn’t alone. She showed up when even I didn’t know I needed her. She lived what should be the international mother’s motto: Don’t ask. Just help.
Throwing a lifeline
I thought of my friend’s guerrilla help on a recent morning. I’ve been concerned about another friend of mine: She’s a whirlwind of activity as she gets her house ready to list, she’s burnt out by the uncountable times she tells her preschooler “We are kind and safe with our bodies” and she’s had several scary health episodes in the last few weeks.
So I texted her, asking if she was around. Then I arranged for my mother-in-law to watch my own kids and headed over.
For the next few hours, I hung out with her one- and three-year-olds. While my friend showered, I chased her girls around the living room. While my friend packed, I read the girls books. And when Big Sister pushed over Little Sister, I repeated, “We are kind and safe with our bodies” several hundred times.
In all, my friend didn’t “accomplish” a ton. By the time I left, she had clean hair and precisely one box packed.
But other moms understand just how powerful that can be.
Getting something accomplished, even something seemingly minor like taking a shower or boxing up dishes, is so hard when you have little kids running around. That’s why it’s such a relief to check even minor tasks off your list.
Helping your village
Many of us live far from family, or our relatives can’t—or won’t—help. Many of us can’t afford childcare or a mother’s helper. Many of us feel isolated and lonely from a string of days picking up puffs and wiping tushies.
So when times get tough, we moms have to be our own village.
The next time another mother texts you in a panic, or you notice a friend just isn’t herself lately, I ask you to consider what you can do.
If you say, “Call me if you need anything,” I can pretty much guarantee she’ll never call. Asking for help is so hard.
If you say, “How can I help?” that’s better—but your friend might not know. And she might not want to inconvenience you.
But if you don’t ask, just help—well, she can’t brush off your offer.
So bring her dinner. Make a Starbuck’s run and deliver a venti latte. Take her kids to the park. Send her flowers. Tell her what an amazing job she’s doing.
Don’t ask—just help.