A few weeks ago, I was complaining to a mother at school drop-off about a deadline I had that day but with one child at home, it was going to be tough to meet it. Just a general whinge, no hidden agenda. Do you know what she did? She asked my daughter if she would like to come to her house for the day and literally kidnapped her. While I stood there gaping, she lifted up my child, plonked her into the stroller next to her own child and walked off, saying, “see you at 3pm pickup”. I should have called the police, but instead, I ran home, finished my work and had a wonderful day (as did my daughter!)!
If this Mum had said, “Oh no, that’s really tough. Is there anything I can do to help?”, I would have laughed off my stress and said, “No, we’ll manage.” And I would have managed, just not particularly well.
How many times have you offered to help a friend when you can see they need it, only to have them reject you? And on the flip-side, how many times have you been desperate for help, but not known how to ask?
We all know it takes a village to raise a child. But how many of us actually use our village? How often do we just hold our breath, gird our loins and plunge into life stubbornly, independently and hopelessly alone? This is part of the legacy of being taught to stand on our own two feet, of toughing it out and making the best of it.
Why should it take a flood or an illness to discover you are actually living in a world of people on the brink of kindness?
We do live in a fortunate time, with wall to wall modern convenience, but one thing has not changed across the centuries. People need people to survive, especially when the walls start to fall. And they will crash down, for all of us, at some point. It may be the death of a loved one, a sick child, the loss of your own health. Redundancy, storms, fire and flood- it’s happening all around us right now.
We are not immune to any of life’s vicissitudes, but there are remedies available to reduce the severity. They come in the form of family, friends, neighbours and more often than not, strangers.
How can we learn to ask for what we need without the guilt, shame and fear of being seen as weak?
Just open your mouth and let people know exactly what you need.
And be specific.
I am too sick to cook, can you bring me two family meals please?
I can’t get out of bed, can you pick up the kids today, please?
My car has broken down, can you give me a lift, please?
I think I have head lice- can you please have a look in my hair?
My husband and I are going nuts, we need a night out- can you please babysit?
Not everyone is as forthright as my friend who kidnapped my daughter, so you have to give them a helping hand. If you don’t let people know that you need them, then they will assume you’re okay.
But you’re not always okay, are you?
Swallow your pride, understand you are human and say, “Please, I need you…” And watch what happens…