A Letter to The Stranger Who Taught Me to Ask for Help.
The first few months of baby wrangling are surreal. An invisible force has scooped up your former life and the remaining days are a haze of adapting to sleepless nights, deciphering a new baby language, and generally surviving.
Mothering is an intuitive process but there is also so. much. learning. going on…
For instance, learning to ask for help.
I’m still not as good at asking for help as I would like to be, but it is getting easier…
I need help with asking for help. I need the help to magically arrive at surprising times. Sometimes I simply need some magical feminine energy to swoop in at the right time and help me out.
And one day it happened.
So here is the letter that I wish I could give to the woman that indeed swooped in that day…
Wherever she is.
Dear fellow Goddess,
I am not from around here. Currently I live far far away from my immediate family, in this land so foreign and upside down that my mind boggles. A few months ago, I gave birth in this foreign land and ever since have been muddling through motherhood feeling somewhat overwhelmed, isolated and treading water without my first language to keep me company.
The day you noticed me and my new baby, I happened to be waiting for my ticket number to be called at the pharmacy. I guess you were too. The backlog of patients was hefty and it had already been a half hour wait for me. Who knows how long you had been waiting? I was picking up a prescription for some medicine that I had resisted taking for the past few months. I was breastfeeding and not wanting to add anything ‘extra’ to the baby’s milk. I tried and tried to heal myself with other alternatives with every known remedy under the sun… Without too much unnecessary detail, let’s just say a post-labour ‘feminine’ bacterial infection had taken hold of me and didn’t want to budge…
I was at my wit’s end. I was uncomfortable, tired, and ready for some pharmaceutical action!
Literally hopping from one foot to the next, I waited and waited for what seemed like bacterial infection eternity for my number to come up. Every ding of the ticket number screen, another step closer to getting the drugs… I was assessing each person before me, trying to work out their ailment and hoping that their prescription was easy for the pharmacist to find and dispense.
The baby was slowly becoming more and more impatient. Jiggling the pram was not quite cutting it. By the time I had him in the sling, he was screaming the house down. Eyes were upon me, I needed to feed him, and my number was still a while away. I didn’t want to forsake the long wait that had already passed and try again later.
So close, yet so far…
I bounced and jiggled and hummed and cooed. I tried to feed him as he flailed in the sling but I guess the fluorescent lights of the pharmacy and glare of all and sundry didn’t add to the appeal of what would have been our debut into public breastfeeding. The tears welled in my eyes from said discomfort and tiredness but also the stench of the poo that my baby had decided to do with great theatrical timing. My number was still potentially 20 minutes away and it was time to give up, get home and try again tomorrow. Oh the frustration!
Then you approached. Maybe you are a mother. Maybe not. Maybe you just felt sorry for this obvious maternal novice trying to placate her wriggling, smelly bundle of joy. Maybe you recognised the hopping dance of a girl needing a prescription! Whatever it was, you opened your heart and in a show of extreme generosity, you pushed your number into my hand and said ‘you can go next’.
This number- this golden ticket, meant I could get the prescription straight away, and get the hell out of that place without coming back. This selfless act of kindness meant that you would then have to take my number and wait even longer for whatever you were there for.
I could barely voice a response. I whispered a thank you and rushed to the counter. By the time I picked up the prescription, the baby was peaking and I just needed to get home. I didn’t look back. I was too embarrassed, tired and emotional. If I looked your way, I would have broken down.
I want to say thank you again though. Thank you for understanding. Thank you for ‘seeing’ me. Thank you for that random act of kindness that made me feel so grateful, nurtured and supported. Thank you for stepping forward as a wise woman who realised that I needed help in that moment. Thank you for teaching me that it is ok to receive random assistance on the way to learning how to ask for it.
Thank you sister, for giving me your ticket and your understanding.