The dreaded four-letter word that most of us don’t want to utter for many different reasons. As women and mothers, we often feel like we have to shoulder the burden of doing it all the while making it look easy and loving every minute of it.
Yeah, so that’s a total lie AND it’s unreasonable. Why do we walk around with this belief in our heads? What makes us feel like we are failures if we ask for help?
I, for one, have never been good at asking for help. My typical routine involves desperately trying to try to figure out a solution until I’m blue in the face, before finally admitting to needing assistance, out of sheer exhaustion. That must be where my stubborn streak comes in.
But, after I had kids ― well after, like we were a few years into kid number 2 ― I broke down. And by broke down I mean ― literally ― puddle on the floor, ugly crying that “I couldn’t do it anymore.”
You could say it was a long time coming ― like an 8 years long time.
You see, I had this idea in my head that if I was going to “have it all” I should have to do it all without help. I’m talking about every-day-regular, help-a-girl-out kind of help. Pitching in, picking up, acknowledging that mom could use a little assistance during the day.
Let’s get this straight right now, it’s not like I’m asking to retire. I’m asking for the table to be cleared, the beds to be made, the toys to be cleaned up and perhaps the toilet seat to be put back down! (I live in a house full of boys...a girl can dream!).
I can remember watching my mother spend her Saturdays cleaning our house from top to bottom while my father went golfing and my brother and I did whatever we were doing at the time, not helping her.
She worked a full time job, came home every night to make dinner, and if that wasn’t enough, would then schlep us to whatever sports practice, dance lesson or school event we were participating in. It wasn’t until we were teenagers that she started giving us chores to do like vacuuming, getting dinner started, or doing a load of laundry.
She basically carried the burden all alone until then ― and to be honest, looking back on that now, I honestly feel bad about it. We were inconsiderate for allowing that to happen, allowing her to suffer.
Fast forward 20 years and here I am, in the same boat as my mother. I have a full-time job, a husband, 2 kids, a home to maintain, laundry, cooking, bill paying, grocery shopping, schedule keeping, you know the drill. I found myself exactly in my mother’s shoes and I had to learn the hard way that it’s impossible for one person to do it alone. Breaking down was inevitable.
I never thought it would be so hard. And that’s the thing ― it didn’t have to be! I have a husband who is willing to pitch in. It’s not that he wasn’t wanting to help, it was that I had to tell him what I needed, because as he so eloquently told me as I was sitting on that kitchen floor with mascara streaming down my face “Well how am I supposed to know if you don’t TELL me”?
OHHH right, I should tell you!! It’s that easy! (Well, mostly).
Here’s the thing: We learn how to act and behave from others. The ways we find ourselves being in the world isn’t a result of fate or luck, it’s a result of what we learned from others. I learned from my mother how to have a strong work ethic, which has gotten me far in life, except that she also sacrificed a lot in order to be disciplined.
She never went out with her friends for dinner and drinks the way I do. She didn’t travel without my father. It wasn’t something “you did” in our parent’s generation.
We are living in a much different world from 20 years ago. Women have stepped out and spoken up. Our expectations for our own personal needs are becoming more important to us. We’ve realized that if we are not truly happy we have the power to change that with one simple four letter word. HELP.
It’s amazing how fast our lives can transform by communicating our needs from the get go. It’s not a weakness to ask for help, it’s a power. It’s the ability to say “I’m not perfect and I can’t do it all and above all else, I shouldn’t have to.”
When you have help you’re sharing the burden, you’re communicating with your partner, you’re learning from one another and you’re teaching your children that they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help when they need it.
My family dynamic completely changed the day I broke. We became much better at voicing our needs individually, as well as together. Everyone helps, usually without argument. (I have a tween, the huffing and puffing has increased dramatically in the last year!)
I don’t find myself having to find a way to make it all work, all alone.
Over all, I would say we’re a better functioning unit because we can get things done faster together, allowing us to have the ability to enjoy the fun stuff. It also gives us the time to have our individual space when we need it.
Asking for help has helped in ways I never realized it would. HELP ― the good four letter word. You should try it on for size.