Wednesday, October 1, 2008

asking for help

We just got back from a weekend in Ojai. Dyami's mom is sick and we went down there to be with his family.

When we got back, I emailed a few friends, telling them that we could use some help--we were frazzled by the visit and the drive back, and struggled getting dinner on the table that night. I asked for someone to help us take a nap over the next few days, and maybe some help next time we go up there.

And then some lovely people called, friends, family, and offered the help I asked for.

So why did I pause, and think, oh, well, you know--we're really okay. You don't have to. It's too much.

I decided to ignore that little voice. I took up some of the people on their offers, and we will be getting some rest over the next few days. My lovely friend Amy delivered a casserole tonight. My mom is coming tomorrow. And really, the help is an embarrassment of riches--we could really take the week off with all these offers.

But I've been in this place before: feeling overwhelmed, asking for help, and then wondering how to really allow people to help. Feeling that, once I ask, it's too much to actually take people up on it.

I've noticed this about a lot of my mom friends. And maybe all friends. The friend who mentions the out-of-town husband, but says, "oh, we're fine" when I ask if I could bring over dinner. The friend with too much work that waves off free babysitting. The mutual agreements to trade "daycare" that never happen.

I'm not writing this post to make anyone feel bad. I just think it's an interesting phenomenon. It's hard to need help. It's harder to ask for help. It's hardest to actually take the damn help when it's offered, thank you very much.

Is it guilt? Fear of seeming lazy? Politeness? What holds us back? I'm always talking about community and how it would make more sense to share child raising duties with our friends, but actually following through on that doesn't happen. I'm afraid of being a burden. I'm afraid of seeming like I don't have my act together.

So, thanks, dear friends. Thanks for helping.

Not that I needed it or anything. I just asked to make you feel useful. Really, we've got it together.

Or something.

1 comment:

Diana said...

I have this problem, and have wondered the same things--why don't I take the help when it really would be useful? I guess sometimes I don't want to burden others, and sometimes I don't want to seem like I can't handle it myself, and sometimes I don't want to feel indebted. But I think also of how good I feel when I can do something nice for others, and remember that it's not always about me. Now, is there anything I can do for you? (Sorry, I just couldn't help myself)