Most women have a circle of women, or men, around them, such as your local mothers' group, who are only too willing to help when you need it.
Most women have a circle of women, or men, around them, such as your local mothers' group, who are only too willing to help when you need it. iStock

Parents need to call on 'village' when things get too much

SO AS if single parenting wasn't hard enough ... I was told recently that I'd also have to do it on one leg.

In the emergency ward, I wanted to cry each time someone asked me "do you have help at home?” and gestured at the three children patiently playing "rock, paper, scissors” on the bed. Because I didn't have help.

I didn't know how I'd get to the car with a toddler, let alone make dinner, wash up, do everything I normally do at the breakneck pace I normally do it.

I struggled through the first week, determined in my usual fashion to best this new challenge. That first week also included toothaches, exams, my 40th, and a second trip to emergency where my daughter also ended up on crutches.

But hey, I'm a fighter.

Except that I was also exhausted, angry and frustrated. And so, so emotional.

I was not coping.

And thank God ... because when I stopped "coping”, when I started crying at playgroup, I experienced something incredible.

I had people turn up to my home with coffee, with quiche, with biscuits and muffins, with a friendly ear, who took my washing, who walked my dog.

I realised I do have help. A lot of it. But I may not have ever realised, had I not let my guard down and conceded defeat.

I don't know why we, as mothers, are so proud about our ability to do it all, to polish this perfect veneer to our lives, to our parenting. Why we are reluctant to admit our shortcomings.

But I imagine most women have a circle of women, or men, around them much like I do - of local mothers' groups, or people you exercise with, your book club, whoever.

Nine times out of 10, those people are more than happy to help and think nothing of it.

It's just overcoming that momentary fear of judgment when you ask for help, which is most likely all in your head anyway.

And you know what? Today, still in my moon-boot, I happened upon another mum I know who is doing it tough and I get to be that person for someone else.

Remember the saying "it takes a village”. Rally yours.

Peta Jo is an author and mother of three. She'll likely never risk jumping off a stage (a la Footloose) again.