I don’t wait for my sister to ask before I take her baby.
Oops. That kind of sounds like kidnapping. Allow me to explain.
When I visit my sister and I get to hold my precious nephew (who smells like an angel who was just feathered with some sort of heavenly angel dust), I tell her that I’m taking him to the bedroom, turning on my favorite show, and he is mine for the next hour (or two).
I’ll change any diapers during that time; I’ll change his clothes once they’re soaked in drool; I’ll feed him his bottle once he gets hungry. She knows she has that hour (or two—after all, I’m in no hurry) and she has that time to do as she pleases.
Eat. Vacuum. Shower. Dust. Nap. Catch up on her favorite crime documentary.
However she chooses to spend that time, it’s completely up to her. It’s HER time. I don’t question it; I certainly don’t judge it. Only she knows what her body and her heart need during that time, and I want her to honor just that.
She, he, and I? We all come out of that hour (or two) feeling incredible. It’s a beautiful pause from the world for all three of us.
You see, if I waited for her to ask—it wouldn’t happen. Guilt. Shame. Feelings of “I should be able to do it all” would most definitely take center stage.
Long story short: She would never ask.
She (like all other mothers, myself included) would instead wait for the burnout to set in (as oddly enough that feels more natural to current-day motherhood than asking for help does).
Friends—we need to stop that narrative.
We all see it. The memes and articles about motherhood burnout. We know it’s happening. We’re told the ways that we can help a mother once she gets tired, and once she is overwhelmed.
But what about if we didn’t wait for them to get burnt out? What about if we stepped in and helped the mothers before the exhaustion set in?
I am a mother. Of three. No longer babies—one is taller, one is eye level, and one is almost there. But when they were littles, I was witness to so many mothers around me who were tired, exhausted, depleted of energy (and of life). My heart broke for them all.
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As for me? I had Friday nights. My mother-in-law? She didn’t wait for me to ask. She didn’t wait for me to get exhausted. She didn’t wait for me to get burned out. Instead, she showed up at my door every Friday evening and collected the grandchildren that she loved so much. She enjoyed that time, they enjoyed that time . . . and I certainly enjoyed that time. It was a win/win for all. No matter how hard my week was. No matter how busy they got (and how tired I subsequently got), I knew I had Friday evening to look forward to.
And what a blessing that was.
Out of all the beautiful gifts my mother-in-law has given me through the years, nothing has ever compared to the gift of Friday nights. The best. Hands down.
And so now? Now I do the same with my sister. I’m not waiting for the burnout, the exhaustion, the overwhelm.
I’m standing in the gap for her now. Loving on her, by loving on him. Solidifying the (incredible) foundation that I have already built with my sister—and building a strong foundation between this little guy and me.
RELATED: When I Say I Need a Break, It’s Because I Am Breaking
We hear so much about this “village” that is needed to survive motherhood but sometimes I think we need to step back and ask ourselves . . .
Are we doing our part in it?
This article originally appeared on Love Always, Heather