Yesterday I got schooled, and humbled, in how to accept help from others.
Why is that such a hard lesson? There really are people who are kind and genuinely want to help, even strangers. The fact that I would say 'No' to such help is crazy, especially since they can plainly see I need it, or it's their job, or they just want to be nice, or... they are kind people doing their job with kindness. (That last one's not always a given.)
I have deduced that for me it's an issue of pride. Yep. Pride. Not what I immediately thought the answer would be. But we all have some level of pride about something, even women do, and so when confronted with our own inadequacy in an area, our pride is, shall we say, challenged.
As a mom of many littles, I have my hands full. Literally. But I chose to have these children. Some people don't believe in large families. I didn't exactly plan to have one, but here we are and we wouldn't trade any of them for anything. (Though I wouldn't consider 5 large. It's straddling the fence but large to me would be 7. Or 8. Or 17.) And it is challenging, these early days, regardless of how many you have. Thing is, I don't want pity. I don't want people to think I can't handle it. I don't want to appear weak or incapable or needy. But I do need help. Or maybe I don't need it, but it would be nice. A little lightening of the load.
After I had Huggyface, a friend from church offered to come over and help do laundry or something. As a mother of a newborn who had nursing issues and wanted to be held constantly, I was finding it difficult to take care of my family, make meals, clean up, buy groceries, etc. Admittedly, the laundry
mountain pile was growing. And, as she offered, she said that she and her husband had opposite work schedules some days and so really I would be doing her a favor by getting her out of the house, and "allowing" her to be useful instead of wasting her time watching lame tv shows. Well, ok. She convinced me. If I was doing her a favor. *wink wink* So I could accept that. Plus, it's acceptable as a new mom to receive help, right? Never. In my wildest dreams. Could I have imagined that she would come over and spend S E V E N hours helping me. I was truly, truly blessed. How could I ever repay her?
I have another friend that has helped m a n y times by watching my monkeys, in addition to her own. Often on short notice so I could go to a doctor's appointment alone, or once all. day. long. so I could clean and paint and prepare for someone coming stay with us a while. She has made us more than one "new mom meal" and drove to my town to deliver it.
And again, I thought, what can I ever do to repay her?
The bigger question is,
why can't I just accept these kind gifts for what they are?
Gifts. Pure kindness and love and generosity and friendship.
From the person who wanted to help put my groceries on the conveyor belt while I held a tired and hungry crying baby, to whom I said no.
From the nice nurse who got my kids coloring pages and crayons and set each of them up with clipboards and their own place to sit, moving around car seats and purses, attending to each of their needs, listening to their stories, and shifting around once again as the doctor came in, while I sat nursing a baby. (For this one, I just sat marveling how she cared for us, thanking her profusely. It's not like I could get up anyway.)
And from the gal yesterday who asked in the midst of a mothering meltdown if she could help and was met with my less than kind tone of voice and a slammed car door, screaming baby in the background. She didn't deserve me and I didn't deserve her. But she came back when my gas pump wasn't working, fixed the problem, gave me a new gas coupon at twice the discount of the one I had had, and pumped my gas, all while I sat nursing my child. (this happens a lot - the nursing. It was a long day out.) So I sat, feeling bad for my attitude and actions, tears streaming down my face, while also thanking God for her and her persistent kindness to an undeserving customer. To top it off, she even came back, put my pump away, and handed me my receipt, while I could barely squeak out a tear-stained 'thank you.'
So to all you who offer kindness, thank you. Strangers, family, and friends. Thank you, even when I turn you away. It's just that I don't know how to say "yes." But I'm learning.