Your Village Wants to Help You

“I can’t move.”

I uttered these words after lying on my stomach for an hour at physical therapy. My lower back was mysteriously in agony, a searing 10/10 pain that rivaled the unmedicated childbirth I had experienced just 11 weeks prior. As I lay immobilized on the table, I felt panicked staring into my three-year-old’s and three-month-old’s innocent eyes from across the room. I couldn’t sit up, let alone walk out of the clinic. How on earth was I going to get my babies home safe and sound? 

In a delusional state of mind, I told the staff I needed a few minutes to gather myself before picking up the car seat and leaving. They eventually convinced me to call my husband. He immediately left work and came to our rescue. After a trip to the ER, I eventually made my way home to rest, recuperate, and make an appointment for back imaging. While I could now gingerly walk and sit down with assistance, there was no way I could normally function as a mother of two young children. My newborn wasn’t going to lift himself, so it was time to face the music: I had to ask for help.

Dread and Anxiety entered the chat. 

I began to go down a familiar mental road, the one where I instinctively want to turn down loving offers from my supportive community for no good reason. If I so clearly need help, why do I feel compelled to reject it? My best guess is because of a dilemma facing many parents in our modern society: Senseless pressure to do it all, and all alone. 

I’m not sure when or why I subscribed to the lie that I’m supposed to do everything by myself, but it’s a toxic mentality that has crept up several times to sabotage my sanity. In reality, this unhealthy mindset only leads to stress, burnout, and feelings of inadequacy. I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t need more of that in my life. I decided to do some self-reflection and set aside my pride.

I channeled my inner Brené Brown and vulnerably asked a few friends and family members for help. Turns out, it was the best thing I could have done. One friend came over while my littles napped, holding down the fort while my husband picked me up from the ER. Later, our kids joyfully played together as I lay on the couch on an ice pack. The next morning, another friend promptly showed up on my front doorstep ready to feed, change, and swaddle my newborn. The next moment she was jumping in the pool with my toddler. My sister-in-law took time off of work to do the heavy lifting for two afternoons in a row so I could avoid further straining my back. I still felt bad that I was “making other people do my work” while I lay on the couch and hobbled around. The difference was this time I actually listened when they said they were glad to do it. 

As word got out that I was recovering, dozens of people offered to connect me with their babysitters, send over a meal, or pick up my daughter for a playdate at their home. Tears sprung to my eyes with each sweet message of concern and generosity. Little by little, I quit telling myself I was a burden and remembered that my community is a treasure to never be taken for granted. 

In fact, this whole ordeal reminded me that I do myself and my entire family a disservice when I don’t accept the support offered by loved ones. Frankly, the times when I have let others help me are proof of this. 

When I’ve asked for and accepted help: 

Friendships deepen and flourish. I always feel more tightly bonded to a friend after accepting their offer to come over and do laundry while I take a postpartum nap, or when they pick up my daughter from school so I don’t have to load the baby in the car with me. 

My daughter gets the attention she deserves. When it’s a particularly challenging season at work, I’ve felt guilty about sending my child away so I could get work done. However, whenever I’ve let a trusted friend take my child to their house for a playdate, it’s made me realize my daughter was better for it! She has way more fun doing sensory bins and crafts with a friend instead of playing by herself or watching another hour of TV at home while I’m distracted with other things. At the end of the day, we both benefit, as I’m available to give her my undivided attention once the work is done. 

My whole family is fed. I didn’t have a Meal Train when my first child came along, so it wasn’t until my son was born this spring that I realized the tremendous value it brings. For the first two months of my newborn’s life, the exhaustion would hit hard around 5:00 p.m. (AKA the time of day my husband and I had to figure out dinner and also wrangle our three-year-old into bed. NBD.) It was an absolute godsend to have a smiling friend drop off a meal or send us a delivery every other night so we didn’t even have to think about it. 

I feel more like myself. When I have the opportunity to take care of myself (and not me + everyone else around me), it’s like reacquainting with an old friend. She is a wife, mother, professional, and friend, but she is also a human being with needs. Taking time to rest, run errands, exercise, catch up with friends, or do whatever I want while someone else lovingly cares for my family is restorative.  

When I mentioned to my friends that it’s hard for me to accept help, many of them echoed my sentiments. Unfortunately, we all admitted that we are the first in line to offer support for someone else, but accepting it ourselves doesn’t come as easily. Everyone knows it takes a village to raise a family, so why do so many of us instinctively shut out our support system when we need it most? I think we’d all be a lot better off if we stopped pretending that doing everything alone is a badge of honor and instead welcomed community support with open arms. 

Whether I accept it or not, my village is always there waiting to help, and it’s up to me to let people in. I’m telling my story to encourage you to stop trying to do it all alone and to stop believing that you should in the first place. My back injury gave me no choice, but moving forward I’m making a conscious effort to embrace my own village.

If you want to start doing the same, say “yes” when someone offers to help you this week. At least once! It may surprise you how leaning on your people a little bit goes a long way in the journey to becoming your best self. Please give it a try and let me know how it turns out. 

Originally from the Live Music Capital of the World, Katie moved about the country (Nashville, TN, Seattle, WA and Athens, GA) for several years before settling in the Alamo City with her husband and young family in 2018. She's a lifestyle portrait photographer (always finding the good light), outdoorsy (…as in she likes to drink on patios), and an audiobook and podcast enthusiast (especially psychological thrillers). When she isn’t behind a camera or laptop, Katie is exploring the world with her husband, delightful daughter (2018), cheeky son (2021), and tiny pup. You can find her on Instagram (@hersideproject). Favorite Restaurant: Paloma Blanca 🕊️ Favorite Landmark: Mission Marquee Plaza Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Cascarones