I’m trying to negotiate my prideful independence with the humbling experience of needing to ask for help once in a while, and I fear I’m not doing a very good job.
In previous posts, I’ve examined ways that being a mom has changed me, for better or worse. One thing parents hear over and over again, especially as they’re expecting for the first time, is that having a kid means you have to think of someone else first.
Thinking of my kid first means more than buying diapers before that new biography I’ve been dying to read. It means more than sharing my fried egg sandwich (and I seriously love fried egg sandwiches, and so does my kid because he’s MY kid, so yeah, I make like three now and we share). It means also that I have to recognize when doing everything myself might not be as beneficial to Jax as asking for help, and that’s been difficult for me.
When I say I’m independent, I don’t mean I’m a hardass who acts like she doesn’t need anyone (well, maybe sometimes). I know I need people–for support, companionship, childcare, and so on. My independence is rooted in a need to not burden others. I’ve always always always financially supported myself, since college, and continue to do so, even through some really hard times. I rely heavily on a few close friends for emotional support, and of course, because I work, I have to ask for help with childcare, even when I don’t want to.
This week I found myself in a jam on the childcare front. I work for very flexible people who have families of their own and understand that things come up. I can’t control when my kid is sick and the only available pediatrician appointment is smack in the middle of my shift. I can’t control when my go-to sitter starts having contractions a month before her due date, and about a week or two before I have my daycare arrangement firmly in place. And when I’m scrambling just to be able to get to work a couple times a week, I can’t control when my temporary backup sitter makes it obvious that they don’t want to be a temporary backup sitter, despite a previous agreement.
The pre-mother me would’ve thrown her hands up and said fine, I don’t need your help. I don’t like how asking for a favor makes me feel, so forget it, I’ll handle it myself.
The single working-two-jobs mother me doesn’t have the luxury of protecting my pride.
Sometimes I have to inconvenience people and feel like a jerk for doing it. I have to work. To get done what I have to get done, I have to ask for favors and risk feeling like a burden. Sometimes I even have to beg a little.
It’s the worst, but it’s not about me.
A comparable story: Jax and I are on a hiking trail and he decides to sit down on the trail to peek through the trees at the river, rather than, you know, WALK. No amount of “C’mon punkin, we’re taking a walk, let’s go see what’s down here, I bet it’s awesome!” could coax that little man away from a good view of “WA-ta, WA-ta, mama, WA-ta!” I wanted to walk. I wanted to be off that section of the trail. I wanted punkin to stand up before the seat of his pants was completely soaked through with mud (of course he sat in mud. It is not even conceivable that he would not have sat in mud). I wanted to be out of the way of the mountain bikers coming up on us. Instead, I sat in the mud and we looked at the WA-ta.
I prefer mud on my ass to asking for favors, by the way.
It should be noted that I’ve passed the prideful independence on–do you think Jax wants help doing anything, ever? HA.
Anybody else have trouble asking for help? Any tips? Asking, er, for a friend…