It’s hard to be good to yourself and ask for help when you need it most
Parenthood. When you accept the hardest, yet most prolific job in the world, you’re tasked with tremendous responsibility, rewarded with an abundance of magical experiences and challenged by a whole new realm of the unfathomable. No question, you will learn something every day.
I’ve had an eight-year career as a parent so far. I’ve gotten pretty good at accounting, devising a separate budget for afterschool activities and iPad game purchases. I’ve become adept at flexible menu planning, in order to accommodate the fickle taste buds of our resident queen. I’ve become a discriminating fashion stylist, only buying clothing without “pokey” tags. I’ve sharpened my event planning skills and become an experienced medical director. I’ve learned how to make mac and cheese with just the right amount of milk – lest it become too watery and we hit a DEFCON 4 level meltdown.
I’m still learning that listening is sometimes all I need to do because as a parent, it’s still hard not to try and “fix it”.
Fortunately, I’ve had a few peers blaze the parenting trails before me that are happy to share their wisdom too.
But, there is one part of the job that I can’t seem to master. It’s the part the includes taking care of myself. I’m talking about the skill it requires in order to ask for a little help because let’s face it — there are some days when I need help beyond a five-minute phone call, something deeper than a Facebook post in response to a doctor recommendation.
Sometimes I need an honest to goodness uninterrupted break. Something in the form of a regularly scheduled time to do something for me. Time with my husband, with a friend, or simply time alone. It’s a challenge I like to call: Finding a way to preserve my sanity.
Can I be vulnerable here?
Brené Brown passionately explains in her TEDTalk, that being vulnerable is one of the first steps in establishing a connection. So here it goes.
I’ve recently launched a business. Our life today doesn’t exactly have the financial freedom to schedule a regular babysitter. (Does anyone else relate to the small irony that before kids, we could afford a regular house cleaner and a yearly beach vacation?).
In truth, when it comes to hiring a sitter, it’s not just the expense. I also have my own weird trust (ok, control) issues that keep me from handing over our house and the well-being of our sometimes emotional, and very strong-willed precious child to a teenager who quite possibly may not know how to operate a stove. And let’s face it, making mac and cheese is truly an art form.
I’m telling you this because I need you to know something about me.
I need help.
Not mental health help. (I’ve got that doctor on speed dial). I’m talking about help managing daily life at a more sustainable pace.
It’s the not so little things, the coordinating, the scheduling, the errands, the time to take care of stuff — including running my business, my house and every single thing, animal, and human in it. It’s a big mental load, and I simply cannot do it alone.
So, I’m being vulnerable here, in hopes that I can find a way to connect more. I’m admitting, I could use a hand once and a while. And this is not to say that my partner isn’t sharing the load. He too needs help.
If the power in being vulnerable is that it establishes trust and helps us feel safe enough to connect with each other, then why is it that I feel anxiety now that you know this about me? Did I share too much? I’m terrified you’re judging me and you think I’m a nutty fruitcake.
Or maybe you’re just stepping back to take it in because you’re actually seeing me, and hearing me, and you’re thinking, WOW — you are in fact, a little bit nuts, but I am too, so let’s do this.
Let’s connect and be nuts together. Let’s help each other gain some sanity. Let’s build a tribe for support.
Phew. I knew you were my people.
Are you my people?
Almost a decade ago, Seth Godin talked about what it takes to turn a group of people into a tribe, in his book, well…it’s called, Tribes. A tribe’s people must have a shared interest and a way to communicate at its core. But in order for a tribe to effect real change, or to empower its people, members of the tribe must agree that their shared interest includes achieving a goal.
Members of the tribe must be empowered to communicate effectively to reach that goal and members of the tribe must share a passion for the vision enough to want to share it with others.
That was good stuff to unearth because surely there had to be a “Parents that need a break” tribe. When I’d find it, I’d want in. But searching throughout my first few years on the job as a mom, I didn’t find one with any real promise or momentum, and so I thought, what if I could start one?
That’s what got my engine started, and ignited my spirit. I need help. I want to offer help to you too. If this sounds good to you, then let’s keep working towards the same goal.