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…
Pingback: My go-with-the-flow toddler teaches me a zen lesson on the first day of daycare | swm - single writing mom
I have struggled really terribly with the burden thing all my life — I got it from my mother, who it seems has always felt like a burden, probably because her mother treated her as one, and she then treated me like I was one myself. So there is absolutely some nurture in that complex, for me anyway, and understanding that has really, really helped. The world is not my mother, it turns out. Not everyone thinks I’m a PITA. It’s also been a trust issue for me since, well, college, which added to the burden anxiety the fear of being hurt by someone you depend on: I found a substitute mother who nurtured & guided & claimed to love without condition and then ditched me, which compounded the problem. But: the world is definitely not that guy, either.
I love the way you’ve framed this, though: that you’re learning to face the uncertainty out of love for your son. I think that’s maybe that’s the best way to fight it: to act against your nature (or nurture, w/e) out of love for someone else, get some practice, see that it’s not so bad & most people can be trusted and want to help, which makes it easier to ask for help out of love for yourself. People with big hearts and lots of love tend to not save any for themselves 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
The burden thing is definitely passed down for me, too. Exploring that in poems, the leftover kid complex that comes when your parents divorce when you’re a baby and then go on to other marriages and kids, and you shuttle back and forth.
Ask for help out of love for myself? Easy there, V. Slooooow down. 😉
LikeLiked by 1 person
lolz, it’s very suspect, isn’t it? And I’ve always suspected artistically dangerous — you know that part in Triggering Town when Richard Hugo talks about the two kinds of poets? The Krebs (Hemingway) poet believes himself a right thing in a wrong world, while the Snopes (Faulkner) poet believes himself a wrong thing in a right world. And the Snopes poets he lists are SO MUCH BETTER than the Krebs poets, IMHO. Suffer, suffer, wrack & ruin!
LikeLiked by 1 person