Over on Sarah's blog, there is an interesting post up about being creative in how we show care for others in our church family who might be struggling. The suggestion was that perhaps the casserole drop-off might not really cut it every time. And because we only do the casserole roster for people who have just had a baby or have just come home from hospital, there are many other people in need (not just in need of meals but of support generally) who miss out.
This conversation has come up in our house at times. Chris and I were probably too independent when we had our first baby. We actually said no to the offer of meals from people at our church. Not because we wanted to be rude, but because we didn't need meals. Chris does most of the evening meal cooking in our house and my Mum was staying with us. The cooking was covered. What I really needed then was someone to help me work out all the new baby stuff...what all the crying was about, how to encourage a reluctant baby to feed, someone to let me know that while it all felt like it would never end, that it would actually pass all too soon. In hindsight, though, I think we should have accepted the kind offer of cooking. It was a way of showing care that we needed to have the grace and humility to accept.
With our other children, we said yes to the meals. It helped since we had not only a new baby to think about, but also other children who needed attention. But although it was really good not to always have to think about what to make for dinner, once again the cooking wasn't the hardest thing, particularly when we had Rosie. The thing that was freaking me out the most third time around was how I would manage school pickups and drop offs, how I would get the boys to swimming classes every Monday afternoon, how I would do little things like get a haircut or pick up a few things from the shops. Having someone to mind the baby in the early days while I ducked out to do those things was probably what would have helped me the most.
As it turned out, we just managed all the other stuff. Rosie just had to adjust to being woken mid-sleep to head down to school for pickup, she often has her morning sleep in her sling at school while I read in the boys' classrooms and we just booked appointments and let her sleeping fit around them. Sometimes in the first few months she had to feed a bit earlier or later than what she would have liked.
But I agree with Sarah that we need to be creative in ways that we care for others. In similar situations, I am now going to try to ask people what they need most when they are having a difficult time. And I might even push them a little if they say "no, I'm fine, I really don't need anything", since I sometimes have a tendency to do this myself. Sometimes it might be practical help, sometimes it might be just sitting with them to have a cup of tea, sometimes it might be loaning them a book that could be helpful (I love getting information from books so I would love it if someone did this for me!). And sometimes it might even be a casserole. But perhaps not always.