Jennie from She Likes Purple (an amazing writer who I highly recommend that you add to your feed, like NOW) wrote a pretty fantastic blog post last month - and she was actually inspired by Leah from A Girl and a Boy - about women helping women and particularly, mothers helping mothers. She gave a helpful "do" and "don't" list of things to say to new moms.
Among the dos:
I am thinking of you. I am here for you. Go take a nap, I've got this covered. Where's your laundry detergent so I can do this load of whites? You look fantastic. You are the perfect mom for him/her. What's your favorite restaurant so I can pick up dinner? It gets so much better and it'll change from hard to easier like that. You're doing everything right. Your son/daughter is beautiful. It's hard for all of us, in so many ways. I'll be in the kitchen, doing the dishes. Eat this cupcake.
And the don't that literally brought tears to my eyes:
Call me if you need anything! (she won't, you call her)
How many times have we said that to a new mom? We throw it out there "Call me! I'm happy to help! If you ever need a babysitter, just call me!" Do we mean it? Maybe. But do they call? No. Never. They NEVER do. I never did.
After Will was born and I was laid off shortly thereafter, I was lost. I wasn't sleeping much with having a newborn and a toddler at the same time. All those books that say "sleep when the baby sleeps" are useless once you have another kiddo around, as there is rarely a moment when both kids are asleep at the same time. Every free moment was devoted to searching for a job. I felt like no one would really let me mourn the loss of my job because everyone wanted me to "look at the bright side! A long maternity leave!" I felt tossed aside from a company that I devoted many years of my life to and incredibly resentful that I was forced to spend my leave searching for a new job. It was a time in which I felt entirely worthless. Unfortunately, I didn't really reach out. I talked to my friends about my feelings, but I never really told them how sad I felt, how much I longed someone to tell me that I was needed and wanted. And not just wanted to make lunch or get up in the middle of night to feed the baby. But that me, as a woman, was valuable. Combine all of this mental whirlwind with serious exhaustion and zero time to myself, I think I was flirting with a little good old fashioned postpartum depression.
When you have your second baby, people just aren't as excited. People say "Oh, I can't wait to meet him" but they don't come over. They don't bring dinners. They don't call. And even worse, when they did call and offer to help, I said "No, no, I don't want to put you out." And they believed me! The nerve!
Reading Jennie's post, I wondered why we don't insist on helping. Well, I can tell you that this mama won't let my offers go unfulfilled. I will bring dinner. I will fold laundry. I will listen. I will rock her baby while she takes a bath or a nap or just gets the fuck out of the house for an hour and stares at a wall in a coffee shop. Whatever she wants. I will insist.