Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Asking for Help

I have never been good at asking others to help me do things that I think are my own responsibility. I've always been independent and self-sufficient; what I think of as "my responsibility" also includes a lot of things that I'm probably not supposed to think I can always handle on my own. And once we had three kids (more than the "norm" in my area), I had a bit of an attitude about covering their needs without asking others for help; I never wanted to be the family that other parents looked at and thought "why did they have so many kids when they can't handle it?" (By the way, no one ever said anything like that to me about myself or any other family; no one ever even implied it. This was all my own internal judgement twisting myself up in knots.)

When we started fostering, I really had to work on this. And I did. And I got a lot better. It helped that asking people to help me care for foster children felt a little less like I was failing; it was easier to see it as a way for those other people to do some of the work of caring for children in need. I managed to develop more of a "it can't hurt to ask" attitude about calling or emailing friends to see if they could babysit or transport or pick up some item or whatever the need was. But I still tend to only ask when it's for the foster kids or, at a stretch, when it's for one of the Originals and I can't due it because of a foster commitment.

I still have a very hard time asking for help when I'm the one who needs something. I have a doctor's appointment this week. It's nothing major or terrifying, but the doctor told me I would need to have some sedation at the appointment and could not drive myself home. The office also told me it would have to be done on a specific day of the week (because that is the only day that the team that does the sedation is in that office). Of course, that day is one when Mr D absolutely, positively cannot miss work. So I need another ride to the doctor's office and home.

Mr D and I had a long conversation about how to do this. I said I didn't want to ask my mother to drive over from a different state for a one hour appointment. He hesitantly offered to ask his mother. (I'm better at accepting this sort of help from family members.) The problem with asking his mother is that she is a retired nurse who worries. So, she will know all the possible worst-case scenarios about the procedure and the medication and she will stress over them. It is quite likely she would insist on staying at the house with me afterwards until Mr D got home from work, which would be excessive and not relaxing; however, she would be offended it I refused. Finally, I agreed to ask a friend. We came up with two or three for me to try, agreeing that if none of them could do it, I would call my mother-in-law.

As often happens when I hesitate to ask something of someone, the result was gratifyingly positive. The first friend I spoke with was enthusiastically willing to drive half an hour to pick me up, drive another half an hour to the doctor's office, wait about an hour, then drive me half an hour home. This was in lieu of the lunch out we had been trying to plan for a few weeks. When I texted Mr D that it was all settled, he responded, "See? You do have friends."

The moral, of course, is one I have seen many times but still haven't quite managed to internalize. There is no shame in asking for help. People want to help, but they can't fill needs they don't know you have.

1 comment:

  1. I can so relate to this post, one of my biggest challenges and something I need to work on! Good for you, stepping out there and asking :)