When I was VERY pregnant with my third daughter, my mother came to visit. Her trip happened to overlap with our every-other week visit from our cleaning lady (an expense we will never get rid of – but that’s a story for another day). While she started to clean, my mom asked her if she would be available to ramp up her help when number three arrived. I think my mother was asking partially because she had guilt for living ten hours away, but also because she genuinely wanted someone to help me with the extra dishes, piled up laundry or mess of toys left out from my 5 and 2 year old. Of course my cleaning lady (she is a warm-hearted mother herself) said yes, but also added, “If she’ll take the help!”
She was right. I don’t openly ask for help or take it easily. Managing the household has become my full-time job. I write grocery lists, plan meals, organize clothes, purchase birthday gifts, facilitate heated sibling discussions, design family trips, manage the family calendar, sign up for activities, the list goes on and on. I think I have become so accustomed to doing it all myself that to take a step back and ask for help isn’t in my nature. Some may call it controlling, but I prefer to think of it as keeping consistent and systematic routines in place for a family of five!
A few months ago I was having a glass of wine in my pajamas with three of my girlfriends (this is a regular thing – we would rather sit around a kitchen table with a half eaten bag of chips and block of cheese than go out to a bar – again, a great story for another time) and one of my friends was telling us a story about her neighbor and how she had the flu. She had asked her neighbor what groceries she could deliver because her husband was out of town. When she replied, “just the staples – milk, bread and eggs,” my girlfriend said, “NO! What do you NEED? I know it’s not just that!” So that night, we made a pact that when we ask each other what we can do to help, we will let our guard down and let each other know! I’m proud these three women are in my village!
There are times when we are forced to ask for help; we are sick, have an appointment we can’t miss, or are double-booked with kid’s activities. When this happens to me, I feel so uncomfortable and apologize profusely. I am so thankful that I do have people in my community that I can call on (especially with my parents and in-laws living in different states), but it doesn’t make it any easier in times of need! Sometimes I spin the situation in my head; I am so willing to help friends in need, so why do I hesitate to take the help?