Yesterday morning I had a conversation with a mom who I have met briefly before but who I don’t really know at all. I had never really said more than just hello to her. She is an elementary school teacher who has six kids, and when we realized how much we had in common and we started talking.
And she shared with me that she is going through one of those periods in her life where things are extremely crazy and she’s a little overwhelmed.
We talked for quite a while at a swim meet yesterday.
After the swim meet, the team went out to eat.
Between the time we spoke and the time we got to Chic fil a, the mom of 6 was told that she had received a very nice gift from an anonymous person who had heard about the craziness that was going on in her life.
And she came over to me and told me about it and she asked me, “Should I take it?”
She doesn’t read the blog. She doesn’t know me and she doesn’t know what we’ve been through in the last few years.
I wanted to scream, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??? OF COURSE YOU SHOULD TAKE IT!!!!”
But instead, I gave her the very, very VERY abridged story of the past four years.
Because I remembered where I was four years ago.
I told her how four years ago, when things started to go downhill, I felt like I had to do it all.
I had to do all the cooking and the cleaning and the driving and the planning and the child rearing and the homework and the volunteering and the crafting and the stressing and the worrying and the whatever-the-hell-else there is to do without any help from anyone.
And then I told her about how when I allowed myself to be vulnerable, when I allowed myself to be honest with other people, when I let people know that I was really struggling and why I was struggling, no one shamed me (well, except for a few troll-y assholes), no one made me feel bad. No one told me to suck it up.
People rallied around me and my family.
They helped us in more ways than I ever would have dreamed possible.
They helped me with cooking and cleaning and driving. They helped me with watching the kids and with making sure we could give the kids a Christmas. They helped us financially and they helped me emotionally. They even helped me take down my Christmas tree.
At first it was very hard to accept this help.
Because like many moms, I told myself that I was a failure if I needed help. That asking for help meant I was weak.
Asking for help doesn’t mean we are weak.
Asking for help makes us strong. Because asking for help gives us a bigger support system. A bigger foundation. A bigger safety net.
Not just for us but for our families.
While asking for help can be hard, accepting help can be even harder.
It can feel strange and uncomfortable.
But the more you practice, the easier it gets.
Trust me, I know.
And eventually you get to a place where things feel okay again.
Where you feel so much stronger.
That doesn’t mean that you stop asking for help.
We are finally in a better financial place now. We don’t need any financial help from anyone.
But I do need help with the kids. I need help getting them to all the places they need to be.
And so I ask for it.
I almost never drive Number 3 to his baseball practices. More often than not, someone gives him a ride.
But just the other day I got a text from a mom on the swim team who was in a bind who needed a ride for her daughter.
And I was able to help her out.
And it felt good!
Sometimes you are on the receiving end of help. And then, when you are ready, you are on the other end.
It all comes around.
So for all of you who struggle with asking for help, I was thinking about it and trying to come up with a list of things that it’s okay to ask for help with.
I could only think of one thing:
Whatever you are struggling with, whatever is causing you stress or making you a raging bitch or complete lunatic, whatever is making you sad and feeling like you want to crawl under the covers indefinitely,whether it’s help with driving the kids somewhere, help with keeping the house clean, help with losing weight, help with folding laundry, help with your marriage, whether it’s a shoulder to cry on or an ear to just listen to you vent, whatever it is, it’s okay to ask for help.
And one of the best things I learned about this world during those four shitty years that we were really struggling and the thing I force myself to remember every day, especially now that the world appears to be full of some really fucked up and disturbing shit on a regular basis, is that there are so many good people out there.
There are good, well-meaning, kind, amazing people out there who care about you and who want to help you.
And so, when they offer you help, whether you ask for it or whether it is offered to you anonymously,
You won’t forget how if felt to be thrown a life preserver. Ever.
And one day, after all the dust settles, you’ll be the one reaching your hand out to someone else.