Sometimes a trip to the playground is a frustrating exercise in attempted adult conversation. Other times, you get some truth bombs laid out that resonates with you long after the afternoon is over. 

Just a week before Thanksgiving this year, I had our third son.

Many people at my middle son’s preschool offered to bring a meal. But I did not accept, mostly feeling guilty over the timing of the birth, smack dab in the middle of the busy holiday season. To be honest, I did not accept any help other than from my Mom and Dad who were able to stay with us for a week. 

Today, four months later, I was chatting with a friend at the playground after pick up. She had recently made a meal for one of the other moms who just had a baby and said to me, “I’d still love to make dinner for your family. It’s never too late, you know.”

handing a plate of food to anotherAfter the dust has settled and I am back in my old routine of making dinners and caring for three children while my husband is gone 15 hours a day, I am in no position to not accept such a generous offer. I told her that would be much appreciated, but that she did not need to do it. 

She then told me that she had been unable to offer in the fall, having just undergone some major surgery. During that time, a friend had offered to cook for her family and she too turned it down.

This is when she laid it on me. She said she realized that she was robbing that woman of the joy of helping her as a friend.

I realized she was so right. As a friend, I want to help my friend with the new baby. I have signed up for her Meal Train but I have also unexpectedly offered to pick up her son from school. I have watched my other girlfriend’s daughter on a late start snow day so she didn’t have to take time off work. 

These women have also helped me by walking my child into school or picking him up from the classroom so I don’t have to bring the baby out into the cold. We help in the ways we can; it’s the give and take that makes a friendship stronger. 

So many of us, myself included, pride ourselves on self-sufficiency. But maybe we should focus more on relinquishing control and letting others lift us up? 

Whether you’ve had a new baby, are caring for a sick loved one, start a new job or move to a new post, it’s never too late to accept a meal or an offer from a friend to watch a child. Friendship really is a two-way street. 

Not only are we showing the generosity of spirit to the recipient, but we are also modeling behavior that we hope to instill in our children. Don’t we want them to be the ones who offer a friend in need a helping hand? We also need to show them that accepting help isn’t a sign of weakness, but a mark of trust in and love for a friend.

The bottom line is, most people do not offer help that they don’t want to give.

Rather than rejecting a thoughtfully cooked meal or an impromptu playdate, believe that the giver wholeheartedly wants to help you. In the words of my friend, do not rob them of the joy of giving. Sometimes just an offer of help is all we need to brighten our day and reassure us that we’re not doing this whole mothering thing alone. 

food on a picnic table
Photo by Spencer Davis on Unsplash

Are there times when you’ve turned down an offer of help that you really could have used? Looking for some recipes to share with a friend? Try these!