‘Stand in the Gap,’ says a mother of three.

“Before I steal her baby, I don’t wait for my sister to ask.”

Oops. That sounds suspiciously like kidnapping. Allow me to elaborate.

When I go to see my sister and get to cuddle my wonderful nephew (who smells like an angel who was just feathered with some holy angel dust), I tell her I’m bringing him to my room, turning on my favorite program, and he’ll be mine for the next hour or two.

During that time, I’ll change any diapers that need to be changed. Once his clothes are soaked in drool, I’ll change them. When he gets hungry, I’ll feed him his bottle. She knows she has an hour or two, I’m not in a rush, and she can do whatever she wants.

Vacuum. Eat. Shower. Nap. Dust. Get caught up on her favorite crime drama.

She has complete control over how she spends that time. It’s HER turn now. I don’t question it, and I don’t pass judgment on it. Only she knows what her body and heart require at that time, and I want her to pay attention to them.

Is it just me, she, and him? We’re all in a great mood after that hour. It’s a lovely break from the rest of the world for all three of us.

It wouldn’t have happened if I had waited for her to ask. Guilt. Shame. ‘I should be able to do it all’ feelings would undoubtedly take center stage.

To cut a long story short, she would never inquire.

Like all other mothers, she would rather wait for burnout to set in before seeking help, as it feels more normal to her in today’s parenthood.

Friends, we must put an end to this myth.

We’re all aware of it: the motherhood burnout memes and articles. We’re aware that it’s taking place. We’re told how to assist a mother who is exhausted and stressed.

But what if we didn’t wait for them to become exhausted? What if we intervened and assisted the mothers before they became exhausted?

I am the mother of three children. They are no longer children. One is taller, one is at eye level, and one is on the verge of getting there. But when kids were young, I saw so many mothers who were tired, exhausted, and bereft of vitality all around me (and of life). My heart ached for all of them.

What about me? I used to have Friday nights. What about my mother-in-law? She didn’t wait for me to come up with the question. She didn’t wait for me to become fatigued before proceeding. She didn’t wait for me to become exhausted before acting. Instead, she came to my house every Friday evening to fetch her grandchildren, whom she adored. She, they, and I all had a great time during that period. It was a win-win situation for everyone, regardless of how difficult my week had been. I knew I had Friday evening to look forward to, no matter how busy they got or how exhausted I became.

… And what a blessing it turned out to be.

Nothing has ever compared to the gift of Friday nights that my mother-in-law has given me throughout the years. The very best. Without a doubt.

So, what’s next? I’m now doing the same thing with my sister. I’m not going to wait for burnout, tiredness, or overload.

Now I’m filling in the gap for her. By loving on her, you also love on him. Building a strong foundation between this little man and me, on top of the great foundation I’ve already made with my sister.

We hear a lot about how you need a ‘village’ to make it through motherhood, but I think we should take a step back and ask ourselves, ‘Are we doing our bit in that village?'”

Courtesy of Heather Delaney

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