(Anyone else singing the Beatles song yet?)
If there is one thing I have learned since becoming a mother it is that not only is it important to ask for help, but it can literally be a lifeline.
I might have grown up with the idea that I needed to project a perfect picture to the world, but I have no illusions any longer. Sometimes motherhood can magnify the need to seem like we have it all together - that our house is always clean with a loaf of fresh baked bread in the oven and homemade cookies for the kids after school and children who are well behaved. Three boys in 4 years changes that pretty quickly.
(I heard a great validating radio broadcast this morning on Focus on the Family. The guest is an author who writes about raising boys, and he said that even as toddlers boys will test more boundaries, be more active, and have a much more "me" centred universe than girls. For someone raised in a family of girls, it was enlightening and reassuring!)
At any rate, I quickly realized that I would probably drive myself into the ground if I didn't accept and ask for help when I needed it. Initially, asking for help was just about getting through the days with my sanity. But now, it's about so much more. With my older two in school and Juliette my first "easy" baby and nearly seven years of parenting experience under my belt, things aren't as difficult any more. Help is no longer about survival, but that doesn't mean it's time to stop asking.
Help has now become about relationships and community. Here's my current example. I'm trying my best to get my house decluttered and organized. I've made some great strides, but I've hit a wall. I just can't seem to find a place for all the things I need to. Now, if I couldn't solve this problem, life wouldn't fall apart. It might mean shifting storage bins more often than I'd like, and stepping around baby furniture, but an acceptable level of peace could still be attained.
But I'm after more, and so I'm reaching out for help. I have two amazing friends who are really good at organizing. Whenever I step into their homes, I feel so completely relaxed, because their homes have a spacious feel, even if the square footage isn't massive. I've always loved how I feel in their homes, and so this week I gave them a call. I asked for help. I invited them over next week to help me figure out how to get to the next level of organization in my own house.
Here's the thing - one of these friends is going through a really tough time right now. She hasn't felt up to getting out or being involved in much. When I called her, I could hear her heart soar. She expressed how much she loves this kind of project and was overjoyed to be asked to help out.
So here's the question - who is helping who? Really, we are mutually helping each other. This "help" is about building relationships. It's about reaching out in my own little community of people. I have learned that asking for help does not always mean I am being a burden to someone else. You'd be surprised how often people will want to help out. People love interaction, and in this day and age we get so little of it as people retreat to their media filled homes. People also love to teach and share their experience and expertise. I want to tile my front entryway, and I'm sure if I asked there would be several people who would love to come and "help" me learn how to do it. I just think how happy I am when someone recognizes my own talent and asks me to give. Very rarely do I feel overwhelmed or unwilling; rather, I feel blessed by friendship and a useful part of my community. I have something to give. Everyone has something to give.
It makes it easy to see how asking for help isn't a weakness at all. It's an important part of life.