I am terrible at accepting help. If anyone – including my husband – offers to lend me a hand, my knee-jerk reaction is always to say no. I’m fine. I don’t need anything right now. I’m good. The reality is that I could almost always use a little help here and there. Maybe I’m alone in this, but I don’t think so. I often offer help in an open-ended way to my friends and family and am generally shot down just as quickly as I shoot others down. But here’s the thing: when I offer to help, even if my offer is vague, I mean it. I really, really mean it. I am not only willing and able to help; I want to help.
If you accept my help, to me that means:
- You trust me. You believe that I’m not going to screw up or make life more difficult for you by getting involved.
- You value my abilities.
- You know I won’t judge you in your moments of vulnerability.
- You give meaning to my past struggles. If I’ve gone through something challenging and come out on top, and then I’m able to walk a friend through a similar challenge, I finally have a purpose for my pain.
While I assume that deflecting help means I won’t be a burden to others, honestly, in doing so, I’m selling my friends a little short. I’m depriving them of the opportunity to know how much I trust and value them.
So please, let me help you, and I’ll let you help me. While we’re in a surreal time of social distancing, help looks a lot different. Maybe it’s offering to FaceTime someone’s kid and read them a story or sing silly songs while mom focuses on work or brushes her teeth or face plants on the sofa. Maybe your friend needs *just one thing* from the market, so you add it to your online grocery order and drop it on her front porch so she doesn’t have to pay extra shipping.
When our social distancing season is over, I hope we’ll all be more open to accepting help and embracing a village mentality. If a friend offers to help with something specific, say yes. If they offer open-ended support, come up with something for them to do for you!
I know there are groups of friends out there who have really mastered this. But if you’re like me and stubbornly independent, let’s just stop. In this motherhood thing, we all have days when we’re on top of the world and days when we’re drowning. If I’m the former and you’re the latter, please, take advantage of my relative (and likely short-lived) calm and wellbeing. When the roles are reversed, and you offer to help, I pledge to take you up on it.
And on the off chance that your offer really was just a courtesy offer, well then jokes on you, because you’re mowing my lawn this weekend.