I hate asking for help. I always have. My report cards used to come back with comments like: She’s a great student but she needs to ask more questions. My logic centred around questioning that if I was a great student, why would I need to ask questions? And what if I didn’t have any questions to ask? What was so great about asking things?
Asking for help is the question that I always liked to avoid. There was a certain image that I was trying to portray and it wasn’t someone who didn’t know what they were doing. Because that’s what asking for help does, doesn’t it? It exposes you. It makes your well-crafted-has-it-all-together vibe fall apart at the seams.
During my years of work, I’d learned to ask for help. I’d taught myself to stop being embarrassed if I didn’t understand something or if I didn’t know what to do. It saved time and Googling effort. It was okay to clarify. Asking for help was a good thing.
Zip over to my home life and it’s a completely different story. After finding myself with three under three, I felt like I was drowning. My whole day was consumed by feeding babies and entertaining my toddler. When I had spare time to catch up on housework or – God forbid! – relax or do something for myself, all I wanted to do was sleep.
As someone with a daily planner and some goals for the year, this was so difficult for me to deal with. I usually get things done. I did it with my boisterous toddler, it should be no problem doing it with three, right? So, so wrong.
My mum visits every Saturday to see my daughters and help out. It’s something she has been doing since I was pregnant with the twins and has continued after they were born. It never used to feel like she was coming over because I wasn’t capable, but last Saturday, that’s exactly what I was. After five hours of broken sleep, a husband at work, a cranky toddler and babies doing hourly feeds, I was near breaking point.
“Just let me know if you want me to come over tomorrow,” she said on her way out.
After she left, I cried. I felt so useless that I couldn’t handle my three under three by myself. After all, I’m supposed to, aren’t I? They’re my children. I’m not always going to have a second person around to help. Obviously, I was utterly useless.
But at the third two-hourly feeding at four in the morning with one baby attached to me and patting the other as she worked out her wind, I relented and texted my mum to ask her to come.
When it was time to start the day with my toddler at seven in the morning, I felt okay. I thought I may have made a mistake by asking her to come and considered telling her not to worry, but when she showed up forty minutes later, I felt so relieved.
I had babies to feed and bath, piles of washing to fold and a cranky toddler to deal with. Having someone else walk through the door took a huge weight off my shoulders. If all it meant was that she was making me a cup of tea or playing with my toddler while I fed the babies, it was an immense help.
Learning that it is okay to ask for help was the best thing I’ve learned this week. It is okay if I don’t have it all together. It’s okay if my house is a mess. It’s okay if I can’t handle all three children by myself for a whole day at the moment. And, better yet, it’s okay to admit it.
I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to have it all together. I don’t have to know what to do. And it’s okay to be honest about it.