For most of my 20’s I would pride myself on being independent.
I didn’t need a man to start my life, to be financially stable, to have my own place or to be secure in who I was. In fact, that’s still true… and I still need look to God for those things.
In the world’s eyes, I wanted to be an independent woman who could work hard, build stuff, haul stuff and fix stuff. And I was proud of that.
Then I got married and learned something. I learned sometimes I need to allow people to help.
My husband wants to help. People want to help. And I need to let them.
Because it’s just good for us to serve one another – in marriage and in community.
And so… I learned to receive help more willingly. Because I wasn’t proving anything by being able to “do-it-on-my-own.” Like a toddler. Ha!
But a harder lesson was yet to come.
Because then I had a baby. And then I needed help.
Here’s the scene. Our sweet babe kept us up most of night and decided to throw a 2am party-in-the-crib. It’s now 7am, dim winter sunlight is starting to glow through the trees, and my eyelids are so heavy they feel like sandpaper. And our sweet babe is laughing, throwing toys around on the livingroom floor. My hair is dirty, my glasses are smudged, there’s a little mascara under my eyes left over from yesterday and there’s barf on my housecoat. I feel like a bag of sand, emotionally, physically, mentally. And my sweet husband is starting the coffee.
Then he asks if I need anything. Do I need anything?? Yes… I need a lot of things. A long nap. A hot shower. A cup of coffee. A clean housecoat. A clean baby. A hug.
But what do I say? “No, I’m fine.”
No, I’m fine?!?!? WORST POSSIBLE ANSWER.
It’s simply, really.
But sometimes, it’s really hard.
The hardest thing I’m learning as a new mom is actually asking for help.
I’m using the word “help” intentionally here. And I’m operating off the assumption that my husband and friends and family want to be and are helpful.
But for some reason… I find it difficult to ask for what I need.
Anyone else out there hate asking for help??
Why is it hard?
Is it pride? A desire for achievement? Or not ‘needing’ anyone? Or not being a ‘burden’? Do I have something to prove?
None of that is really healthy.
Nothing in life has caused me to lean into the people around me more than being a mother.
And this is where I stop. I stop to take a minute to recognize some mothers don’t have a spouse to lean into and – now more than ever – those mothers are heroes to me. If you know a single mom, love on her. She may never ask you for it, but I’m 110% sure she needs it. These mothers are amazing.
By grace and with gratitude, I live with an amazingly supportive husband and I’m thankful for him. He’s a partner in parenthood and there’s nothing he’s not willing to do. He helps in every and any way he can. We are a team.
However, my reluctance to ask for help is probably the greatest source of tension in our marriage right now.
It’s not that I don’t have a helpful partner, but my partner is not a mind-reader.
Justin can’t read my mind to know what I need. Mind you, he’s pretty darn good at it… but if I don’t communicate my needs, no one around me is telepathic.
And when I don’t communicate my needs, I try to take everything on myself. Then… things get messy.
Un-communicated and un-fulfilled expectations turns into disappointment. And frustration. And resentment on both sides. And no one wins.
But as I learn to humbly ask for help – to humbly communicate my needs – we both win.
Because there has never been a time in my adult life where I have needed more support. And the more I am able to communicate those needs, the better things get.
I think there’s 2 things at the root of not wanting to ask for help when I need it:
A heart issue – Pride
“A feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements… ” – google dictionary
“A high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority…” – dictionary.com
Is pride healthy sometimes? Absolutely.
But not when it stands in the way of your relationships. Then, then pride is controlling you. And what controls you is your master. And pride is a terrible master.
So I ask myself, why do I feel like I need to “achieve” motherhood on my own? Why do I feel like I am “superior” to asking for help?
When I humble myself and ask for what I need, everyone wins.
Justin becomes a stronger partner. I feel well-supported. Our babe has happy parents. And pride doesn’t stand in the way of healthy relationships.
A skills issue – Communication
This might sound strange, but sometimes I actually don’t know how to ask for help because I don’t actually know what I need.
It’s hard to ask for help when you don’t know what to ask for.
So, the first step for me has been learning to be more aware of my thoughts and feelings when I need help.
When I am aware of what I’m thinking/feeling (ie. tiredness, resentment, uncertainty etc) then I start an active conversation in my head. Why am I feeling this? What would make this moment just a little bit better? What does Justin need to know that I’m not telling him?
Sometimes I even need to have that conversation out loud with Justin in order to answer the question. I have to ask for help figuring out what I need to ask for help with. (without accusing or blaming him for my feelings – tone is super important here!!)
Maybe that sounds like total overkill, but talking it through has really helped to diffuse tired frustration and unnecessary resentment. Because being up from 2-3am with a fussy baby and only your thoughts… well, let’s just say it’s not always pretty. 🙂
When I learn how to assess and actually communicate my needs – everyone wins.
Again – Justin becomes a stronger partner. I feel well-supported. Our babe has happy parents.
Whatever walk of life you’re coming from, are you comfortable asking for help when you need it? Why or why not?
How do you deal with pride?
How have you learned to communicate your needs to people you love?
Leave a comment below… I’d love your insight.