help, i need somebody, help.

yesterday was a long day for all of us.

first bear and i went to buy his fancy glasses. he of course was well behaved as he tried on a few pairs of frames. his criteria for choosing a pair was that they had to be red and beautiful like mine! what a guy! the ones we decided upon ended up being more copper than red, but bear seemed quite pleased and we pick them up next week.

then the four of us went to a friend’s mother’s funeral. it was a beautiful and touching service. this family in particular has endured many tragedies over the past few years; the kind that most people never experience in a life time. i lift my hat to them as i admire their strength and courage while they move through another difficult chapter. i often wonder how much help they have asked for versus, how much help they have actually received.

“how are you?”
“can i help?”
“no, i’m ok.”

asking for help is a skill i have not learned. i suffer greatly from the i-can-do-it-all’s  and rarely ask for help, even when i desperately need it. i suppose i am scared of being judged as a weak, inadequate, incapable woman and mother. this past year has been a true testament to the inability i have to ask for a helping hand. when i was 7 months pregnant we moved cities and into our own home. i packed most of our belongings in the evenings, while dear hubby drove to the then “new house” to paint and do minor repairs. sure people offered to help, but i wasn’t sure if it was out of courtesy, so would thank people greatly and assure them we had everything under control. we moved and our lion was born shortly thereafter. as i was recuperating from his ceaserian birth and as we tried to overcome the trauma of his birth, again i declined help. in the late fall when i had my surgery to remove my pituitary gland tumour and was home but still bleeding from my nose and feeling quite rough around the edges, my mother-in-law came to our house everyday. she cooked and cared for bear, while i hovered around feeling guilty. a week after the surgery i convinced everyone i was strong enough to handle the house and kids alone again. i was lucky though, many of my local friends cooked and brought over delicious meals and treats for us to enjoy. this made a huge difference and i cannot express my gratitude enough.

in hindsight though, i realize i was a fool. it seems so silly to have felt guilty for needing help. in reality i don’t think anyone would have seen me as a weak individual and if they had then screw ’em! 

i watch as some of my dearest family and friends also suffer from the i-can-do-it-all’s. it is a way of behaving that for some absurd reason has become a norm or expectationit is especially pervasive with women and even more in mothers. we think our worth, our self worth, is tied tightly to our ability to do everything. to be the heroine.  truth be told, it is the strong and confident individual who will and can ask for help. 

also, i don’t want to be a bother or a burden to others. people lead busy lives and have a million items on their to do lists, so the last thing i want is to infringe on them. and do people really mean they will help when they offer? from my experience, offering to help is often a cop-out. a way to make the person offering feel better about themselves and most people do not expect to be taken up on their offer anyway. the most helpful help is tangible action oriented behaviour, like arriving at someone’s house with a vacuum or groceries or whatever fits the need. 

bear helping paint the bathroom.

bear helping lion by shoving a stick in his mouth.

xo, mama lola
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  1. says

    I’m new at this, so I hope that this is an appropriate comment, it’s what popped into my head after reading your blog.

    After D was born I didn’t ask for help, and almost went off the deep end… with the current change in our life I’m learning the art of asking for help. The friendships that have grown and the wonderful feeling when someone trusts you enough to ask you for help has continued to make it easier for me to ask for help, and to be there for others in more meaningful way. It’s hard scary the first time you reach out to someone, but an experience that will stay with you forever.

  2. says

    interesting post, lola! you may not agree, but i believe this notion of the “heroine/hero” isn’t gender-specific…how many men do you know who’ll ask anyone for anything? lol. i totally think it’s a predisposition brought on by the culture we participate in. the places women (and men) went to find nourishment, encouragement and help in the past have begun to disappear from the radar…namely participation in church. seriously. i can honestly say i have been hoping to find such a place for myself…and have yet to. you’re not a fool. you’re sensitive and caring. we need to teach our children this…that vulnerability is OK. it allows others to empathize with us. and that’s a wonderful thing. thanks for bringing this to mind!

  3. says

    sadie, my thoughts about women feeling pressure to do every thing comes from the reality that women do everything. many women work outside the home and then come home and complete their domestic responsibilities, while men come home from work and take a load off. women are expected to care for the children, run the home and then some. the expectations for men are different. thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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