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Terrible at accepting help. Saturday August 19, 2017

Today, I went to a social gathering outside in a garden with a lovely lunch buffet. Not usually much of a problem for me, but I've recently acquired a hindrance: a crawling baby. Everything she sees, she wants, and she wants to put it in her mouth, from grass to glasses, handbags to shoes, and even very occasionally her toys. Added to that she's at the stage where a parent has to be in sight at all times and everyone else is a scary monster (unless their toes are tasty or they are a useful climbing frame). Suddenly acquiring food at a buffet seemed an impossible task.

Now there were plenty of offers of help to be had but I spent most of the lunch trying to do things on my own. Why? Sometimes it's an understandable impracticality: I'm a fussy eater, so "Can I get you a plate of food", the most common refrain, was never going to work for me. Sometimes it's fear of inconveniencing someone: I don't want to leave a baby who will probably scream her head off as soon as I'm out of sight, I don't want to inflict that on them. (And then I start to worry that if I carry on that way she'll never get used to strangers, but parental anxiety is a story for another day.) Sometimes it's purely lack of trust.

But often it's a case of wanting to do it all myself, of being seen to be independent and capable. My brain is telling me that I should be able to do it all by myself. There's two flaws I can see in that thinking. Firstly, accepting help doesn't necessarily imply that I can't do a thing, simply that it's easier with someone along side me. And secondly, why "should" I be able to do everything? How absurd. If my skill set in life doesn't include being able to juggle a baby, a plate, and those things you use to serve up salad then it doesn't make me a failure as a human, just normal.

My pride was getting in the way and making life that little bit more difficult. As with a lunch buffet, so with the bigger things in life. There are days where I can get through by myself, but a chat with a friend or a hug make it that much easier. And there are times when I can't get through the day without help from others, and that's alright too.

As I was going, a friend offered to pack some things away. Could I have done it myself? Sure. But it was a lot easier with help.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Ach UK Sat, Aug 19th 2017 @ 6:23am

Good morning Lucy. Well, definitely humans are not yet born with three hands so when blessed with wriggling babies offers of help are most welcome :))
I am definitely guilty of not realising that I need a little help on occasions and when kind people offer help not understanding that it would be adviseable to accept help. Or even desperately needing help but not able to wave to signal my need. Listening to my own inner warning signals is a work in progress.
Also you set me thinking that an offer to help is in itself an acknowledgement that the gifter recognises you as an acceptable member into her/his "tribe". That you are worthy of help and acknowledgement. By accepting the offer the giver also feels valuable, that their gift is accepted, that they are not rejected. So its a win win on both sides.
Helping others is a gift and makes people feel good. But allowing someone to help you is also a gift and a bridge towards friendships.
There's a song which is puddling through my brain now . . " sometimes in our lives . . We need a friend to lean on ...
Lean on me when you're not strong . . .
Thank you Lucy.

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Aug 19th 2017 @ 7:05am

Ach U.K., what a lovely reply - very thoughtful and full of common sense which new Mums often lose with 'baby brain' and those with depression find so difficult to achieve. Btw...I keep saying your name with a Scottish accent! Are they your initials or what you say?! Bear :) x

Ach UK Sat, Aug 19th 2017 @ 6:29pm

Ach Bear, I am put on the spot lol. So I've spent a few minutes this afternoon looking at alternative uses of Ach. Of course, North of the Border we have ach ! meaning a mild sound of disapproval or exasperation or surprise. Or from across the pond ACH in the US Banking system - Automatic Clearing House - is a speedy method of transfer. And in medical and science jargon ACH is acetylcholine ;)) a speedy neurotransmitter at cholinergic synapses. Or more worrying Achalasia is a condition of uptight sphincter muscles. . . I used to be called a high Achiever, but now I'm afraid too much thinking gives me a headAche.

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Aug 19th 2017 @ 6:49pm

Lolilol! Great reply Ach and an och to you too! Hope you're relACHsing now and the headACHe has gone!

Lucy Sat, Aug 19th 2017 @ 6:55pm

That is such an interesting perspective Ach UK, a very useful way to look at it. There's always a moment of connection, even with strangers, when help is offered and received and a smile shared.

Bearofliddlebrain Sat, Aug 19th 2017 @ 7:16am

Dear Lucy,
You have probably written what many thousands of mums feel....and not just new mums.
I too felt that I had to do everything myself or peeps would think I couldn't cope - or worse, I was a bad mother!!! Wow, it was a struggle until I broke under the pressure! Had to give in to wonderful, glorious help!
Twenty five years later...I'm still the same! Think it's just part of me and how I was brought up, however, I am letting daughter do lots for me....and even got OH to iron his own shirts the other day ;)
Now I must just tell him where the vacuum cleaner is kept.....

Lovely blog, Lucy and congratulations on a beautiful baby - and remember, by admitting you need help is admitting you are normal! Go...go out and let others; let someone play with baby in the same room as you, whilst you do something else and just keep popping in and out so she knows you're still there, then make the visits out of sight a bit longer each time.

Just enjoy her....easier said than done some days...but soon she'll be off and away and you'll wish she was still where you could see her!!!!

Big Bear hugs xxxx

Lucy Sat, Aug 19th 2017 @ 7:08pm

It's amazing how often I find that we hide these things and then when we open up we find that so many people are going through the same thing! I already often wish she was where I could still see her but then I walk round the corner and she is ;) I don't think my brain is ready to imagine her grown up, but I will give her all the hugs I can manage now!

Orangeblossom Sat, Aug 19th 2017 @ 9:08am

Hi Lucy thanks for your very inspiring and encouraging blog.

Romy Sat, Aug 19th 2017 @ 9:45am

Hi Lucy . How I would have loved help after having my third baby . Everything went wrong . I won't bore you with the details but because I had always been capable no one in my family acknowledged that I was clearly ill and I need of emotional if not practical help . When I finally asked for help people didn't have a clue what to do or were too busy with their own stuff to make time for me . That's a lonely place to be . So if there's any offers of help forthcoming grab it with both hands . As you said we are only human not superwomen and the sooner society acknowledges this the better . I was a working mum with a young family in the late 80s and 90s and at that time women were trying very hard to show they could do everything and have everything and power on through . I think things have changed a bit since then . I hope so . So cut yourself some slack and accept the help and enjoy your baby . You deserve to . Sending big hugs .Romy x

Lucy Sat, Aug 19th 2017 @ 7:19pm

I'm very fortunate to have reached this point in my life at a time where we don't have to fight as hard to show how awesome we are. And to have places like this to share encouragement! Thank you.

The Gardener Sat, Aug 19th 2017 @ 12:02pm

Bear, a reply which rings lots of bells. Without reducing your own problems, Lucy, I think accepting help at all, then doing it gracefully, is a very common problem. Of course everybody wants to show how good a Mum you are - but I remember, like yesterday, visiting people who had been held up as paragons, and being excessively nervous about the behaviour of the current baby, That made me nervous, and the baby absorbed that nervousness. A calm stranger (to the baby) could carry it off calmly - result, of course, in making Mum feel worse. I am hopeless at accepting help in the kitchen, unless it is preparing veg or 'kitchen fairy' aka known as 'greasy Joan (for the uninitiated to the poem, she 'keeled' the pots, I think). Every washing-up machine loads in a different manner, re-cycling needs an A4 sheet of instructions. Bitter experience has taught me to be ASKED for help, not to OFFER. Even the most innocent offer can be misconstrued as interference. I did clear grand-childrens rooms with the go-ahead of their Mum. The kids admitted they liked a tidy room, but no idea how to start. Some, you had to jump from the door to the bed. They were so bemused that putting screwed up paper and sweet wrappings in a bin was a start, weeks or dirty underwear and socks in the washing bin another, and restoring the mugs (I counted 15 once) with congealed tea/coffee growing green mould. Romy, you are so right - I was 60's/70's, stupid show off and one-upmanship time. Shirley Conran summed it up 'Life's too short to stuff a mushroom!' Have you read 'The Egg and I'? Pa and Ma Kettle, sluts of the first order, but all children were passed round from lap to lap, fed awful food, and had 'fits' - but they were loved, not 'possessed'. And again, Romy, being capable! Once, a sequence of circumstances caused me to say, around 4 a.m. 'I can't hope'. My family nearly had a collective nervous breakdown.

Lucy Sat, Aug 19th 2017 @ 7:27pm

That reminds me of me and my husband with laundry. We can never ever hang up laundry together for fear of it ending in divorce! I find his way of doing it completely wrong and can't help but criticising him leading to an argument, despite it being utterly trivial and of no consequence (it still gets dry!). And don't get me started on how he folds underwear! And so neither of us ever offers to help the other with laundry any more!

Lexi Sat, Aug 19th 2017 @ 4:09pm

Lovely post today Lucy. I too struggle (and struggled, when my daughter was a baby) accepting help. It's so hard to be a new mom, or a mom in general! Ask for help when you want it, and say no thanks when you don't - you are in charge! xo Lexi

Molly Sat, Aug 19th 2017 @ 5:04pm

Hi Lucy, I don't have children but I can understand your troubles. I can imagine I would be the same as you, rather possessive and wanting to cope by myself and of course there is the issue that babies often want their mummies. It reminds me of a time a friend got married and her daughter clung to her constantly and I tried to give her a break (she is my god daughter) and baby was having none of it, she wanted mummy! You can only do your best but don't be afraid to ask for help if needed....generally, people like to help. Good luck xx

Lucy Sat, Aug 19th 2017 @ 7:47pm

Thank you all for the great comments, this community is always reassuring in sharing common experiences!

Benjamin Sun, Aug 20th 2017 @ 6:09pm

I'm bad at accepting help. But other people are bad too. And sometimes it seems I'm offering and offering, and it's neither being accepted nor returned... at which point, the only real understanding is that people are just bad at relationships, I guess, and I'm one of the people.

Molly Mon, Aug 21st 2017 @ 12:34am

Benjamin, I often think that, it is along the lines of a blog I wrote in July called 'Married, Single or Otherwise Engaged'. Take a look if you can and read the comments (sorry if you have already read it or I might be barking up the wrong tree). Generally, I believe that one or two good relationships are better than say twenty for instance. It could be that us sensitive souls make things more complicated than they really are. I just felt like I wanted to respond to you as you sound a bit low and I could relate to what you say. Molly xx

Benjamin Mon, Aug 21st 2017 @ 1:05am

Thank you Molly. I appreciate the thought. I did read that post in July, but not necessarily the comments. I recall it being very well written. As for over-complicating matters... Relationships have a simple veto; the least invested gets to pull back; this decision is repeated every single day, even when one or both are vulnerable or hurt. Not complicated. Hard.

Molly Mon, Aug 21st 2017 @ 2:11am

Wow, that is such a good way of describing it. I will still maintain it is complicated (tell me a relationship that isn't) I am not sure what else to say, hope you heal your hurt xx

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