Today I had to ask for help again. That’s okay. In fact, it is more than okay, it is necessary if I am going to be a single parent and survive this journey. It did not help that my week included children getting sick, my toilet overflowing, and my son having an asthma attack. In addition to that, we had doctor appointments, orthodontics appointments, counseling appointments and the regular day to day stuff of homework, team practices and housework. On top of that I also need to feed the children; apparently that is required of parents.
I could allow myself to be the only caregiver if I wanted, but I have found that asking for help is vital.I become overwhelmed as I try to balance all the things required of me in the care of my children. It involves their emotional, spiritual and physical well-being. A car repair sends my entire budget into chaos and causes me stress as I try to find ways to pay for all that is required. A child’s grief can surface at any moment and that requires kindness and patience even in the middle of the night when I am exhausted. I could allow myself to be the only caregiver if I wanted but I have found that asking for help is vital.
Asking for help is not a simple thing to do, but without it I would not survive. Today I asked a friend to watch my little ones so that I could focus on the doctor’s appointment with another son. Another friend asked if she could clean my car. My car looked like homeless people were living in it, and I kid you not, there was a grilled cheese sandwich on a plate in the back because we have to eat in the car if we want to arrive to all our counseling and other activities on time without starving. When she asked if she could clean my car, I wept and said, ‘yes’ as I tried not to think about the disgusting things in my car that she would have to see.
I ask for help.
I call and tell friends that I am struggling. I don’t want to complain all the time and I don’t but sometimes I need to share the aches, worries and fears I have with others. I in turn hear theirs. We all have aches and struggles. We all need each other. I ask for advice. It’s difficult to know the answers to all the struggles my family has and I seek advice from those I trust.
Last night I asked for help with my son’s math. I have no idea how to complete his math assignments. I could struggle, and we could fail, or I can seek out those who have the skills to help. People are surprisingly happy to help.
I have discovered that asking for help benefits not just me but those around me. People want to help but just need to know how. Letting them know how they need to help me allows them to feel wanted, needed and actually loved. I ask my children for help. They live in this house and so they must take some responsibility for it also. They are now in charge of keeping an area clean and also cooking a meal once a week. They are old enough now to help with that and I am grateful. They are less grateful, but in the future I believe they will be thankful for the skills they have earned. They are learning responsibility and the value of hard work, skills they will need their entire lives. They also feel pride at a job well done, and honestly, they love helping take some of the burden off my shoulders. We will be a stronger family because we have to work together to survive.
In past months I have asked men to take my kids out to chat. Of all the things I can do on my own, being a man is not one I can do. I have enlisted the help of dads to take my kids to activities that require a dad. I have reached out for help when my children are struggling and I can’t reach them. I have asked for nights off because sometimes I need quiet to regroup. I have asked for help cleaning my house when it moves beyond what I can handle.
Today I am able to take care of my kids and their needs because I don’t try to do everything on my own. A nervous breakdown would have been my fate if I had not allowed others to help me. Instead, I have felt love and care as I receive the gifts of time, service and love from others. I am healthy and my kids are healthy because others have helped. Asking for help is a gift to me and to others. That has been a difficult lesson to learn but I know that without my ability to accept help we would not be as healthy as we are.
Questions to Ponder:
- Would asking for help allow you to better function in areas of your life?