I’m Rebecca, and I am afraid to ask for help.

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They tell me I shouldn’t help others with their masks until I get mine on. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

I took a course from a life coach several years ago, and one of the weekly lessons was “Learning to Trust Others”.  Among the activities that week was “Asking Someone for Help” with something you needed.  I have to admit, this was one of the hardest activities of the entire course for me.

After being raised by independent, Republican, “we-don’t-need-anyone’s handouts” parents, the concept of asking for help seemed foreign to me.  Especially as a teenager after watching my recently widowed mother shun offers for help numerous times.  Eventually people quit offering.

Is this because she really *didn’t* need help?  Because those 8 kids under the age of 18 were super duper easy to raise all on her own?  Because she *could* Do It All Herself?  That she was getting by quite beautifully, thank you?  Heavens no.  She could have used the help.  The companionship of friends to talk to.  The convenience of having someone else run errands and get groceries so she could spend more time comforting her children in their time of grief.  The reliance on having other male family members step in to mentor young children suddenly growing up without a father.  But she didn’t.  Because you don’t ask for help when you can – feasibly, whatever the internal and emotional struggle – Do It Yourself.

Now, I don’t blame my mother.  She was only operating on autopilot, the only way she knew how and believed to be the mature thing to do.  Asking for help meant revealing her own vulnerabilities and perhaps having to be “beholden” to another person.  She had lost her parents young as well, and there was no one there to help her cope with those losses then; why on earth would she need anyone to help her through her loss now?

As an adult, I vowed that I would not follow that same path. I would ask for help if I needed it.  And especially after dealing with debilitating rounds of depression that left me hospitalized, it was a fact that I needed help in order to get better.  So I enlisted my husband, my friends, and my sisters to be my Help Squad.  And, by the grace of God, I have gotten through those episodes, not quite unscathed, but certainly wiser and more in control of my diagnoses.  Without their help I would, most certainly, no longer be alive.

I am doing much better these days.  But I still have little hiccups.  And I need to ask for help.  I need help with the kids so they don’t overwhelm me with their needs.  I need help with the housework so I can focus on my own needs.  I need help from someone who will listen to me free from judgment.  And I find it very, very, difficult to ask for help in those times.  Because I should be capable.  Because I am not a danger to myself or others at this point, just feeling a little stressed and down.  Because I *should* be able to Do It All Myself.  Because I don’t want to be a burden.

Sensing a hereditary pattern here?

Deep breath.  I remind myself of that and make a plan.  Number one: Call Hubby and ask to have an afternoon “off”, where I can go sit at a coffee house and read a book.  Number two: Call my good friend just to chat.  Number three: Pay another friend’s school-age daughter to come in for a few hours to act as Mother’s Helper so I can get some chores done.

See?  I can ask for help.  There is no shame in needing the assistance of others sometimes.  It doesn’t automatically mean you are “taking advantage” of anyone’s generosity or are willing to lazily accept “handouts” from hard-working individuals.  It means you are taking care of yourself.  And by taking care of yourself, it means you are better able to take care of others.

Who might, in turn, need your help some day.

 

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The Mercy of Failed Best-Laid-Plans

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photo credit: freeimages.com

I have trouble leaving the house on time.  And with four little ones to hustle to the minivan with all the requisite lesson stuff and shoes and coats and underwear (yes, as it so happens, my dear Bellie one day “forgot” her undergarments on a trip to the grocery store.  And she was wearing a skirt.  She didn’t get what the big deal was.) it gets a little frenzied at times.  We generally are never more than 10minutes 15minutes 30 minutes late.  So, I have taken to “padding” our ETL (Estimated Time of Leaving).  It takes approximately half an hour to get to town from The Ranch. (We love living in the country, but the time to commute must be factored in).  Then, I add 15 minutes to “transition” from house to car.  I don’t know why getting the kids out the door, into the van, and strapped takes 15 minutes, but it does.  Prior to that, I make sure the kids are properly anticipating the Leaving of the House.  They get warnings at 10-minute intervals for at least thirty minutes prior to the “transition” 15 minutes.  Needless to say, it is a process.  And one that requires constant vigilance to the clock on my part.

Yesterday, I considered it a victory when I had herded all the kids plus myself into the car so we could leave the house at that exact 30-minutes-to-commute mark.  Phew!  I turned my key in the ignition and – CLICK.  My battery was dead.

Now, our geriatric minivan battery has been on its last legs for several months.  I was not sure if I would even be able to jump start it back to life, and we were late for Junior’s karate class anyway at this point, so I opted to just say screw it and stay home.  I texted Hubby to be sure to pick up a new battery on the way home from work.

The weird part was, I was really ticked off about this turn of events.  It was no big deal.  Karate wasn’t a requirement, and the kids were, by and large, pleased that they got an evening off from running to town.  It gave me extra time to get the kitchen cleaned up and dinner on the table.  We could afford a new car battery and my car had died, conveniently, in our own driveway so I was not stuck somewhere foreign with four unhappy kiddos and the logistics of getting home to think about.  The situation was nothing bad.

So, why was I irked?  Because, it was not in my plan.  And, certainly, when I had begun the whole “count down” routine an hour and fifteen minutes before Junior’s karate class was due to start at 5pm, I was single-mindedly working toward my goal of getting out of the house and to class on time.  My reward was to be that, having dropped Junior off, I would sit in my car and gloat over the fact that I was such a great CEO of my time.

Best-Laid-Plans.

I was just musing over the fact that we human beings are obsessed with control.  Regardless of whether you consider yourself a control freak or more laissez-faire, each one of us is invested somewhat in being able to control our looks, our health, our family members, and, yes, our future.  Or perhaps, I should say, invested in the illusion that we are, in every instance, in control.

As a mother, I really struggle with the concept of control.  First of all, having four littles running around like banshees the vast majority of the time makes one feel very out-of-control.  And, by nature, I am a control freak.  I want to be able to control my children’s behavior at all times.  And shouldn’t I?  Won’t the general populace look upon me with derision and scorn if I am unable to control my children’s behavior in a public place?  Won’t I be neglecting my duties as a parent if I don’t control my children’s media time, the friends they have, and their time spent doing homework?  It’s commonly agreed that involved parents are better for creating the next generation’s leaders and contributing members of society than parents who let their children do whatever they want.  Isn’t this all about control?  If I can control every aspect of my day, including my children’s behavior, activities, and schedule, won’t that guarantee they will lead happy, safe, and successful existences?

The truth is, I can’t.  None of us can.  Trying to be in charge of our circumstances 100% of the time is impossible.  We do our best, and need to learn to let go of the rest.  And honestly, if I naively think I can or should be in control all the time, where does that place God in my life?  It relegates Him to a minor, supporting role.  As a Christian, I believe in an All-powerful, All-knowing, All-in -Control diety.  I need to remind myself that much of the time, IT DOESN’T ALL DEPEND ON ME, and then leave the rest to Him.  He is in control, and He knows what He is doing.  His plans may not be my plans.  It is merciful that He allows me to have “reality checks” once in awhile that remind me of that, even in the annoying guise of car trouble.

Those two blue lines on the pregnancy test when Hubby & I were “done” having children?

Only able to find a minimum-wage retail job after I graduated from college in the midst of the recession?

Having to cancel a much-anticipated trip when Hubby lost his job?

All dressed to the nines for Christmas mass when the youngest child gets a violent incarnation of the stomach flu?

God says, “You’ve done all you can, now let me handle this.  It’s OK.”

And you know what?  Somehow, it does always wind up being OK.  And I breathe a sigh of relief that I no longer have to be the Atlas of Control.  But I probably will still ask God’s help for getting me out of the house on time.

 

 

Weekly mishmash: Holy Week edition

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Cathedral of the Madeleine, Salt Lake City, Utah

We are wrapping up Lenten-tide 2016 and I feel like I really did not live up to my intentions this year for having an introspective, soul-searching season.  I have done better.  I did not give up sweets, coffee, or Netflix.  I intended to read scripture, say the rosary daily, and try to “offer up” all my daily frustrations, anxieties, and defeats.  Most days, however, due to…well…life….that didn’t happen.  So, I have arrived at the Easter Triduum feeling less refreshed, less penitent, and less ready for the joy of Easter than I could be.

Palm Sunday put me in a good attitude for Holy Week.  Littles and hubby and I went south to Utah for the weekend and ended up attending mass at the gorgeous Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City.  After being somewhat stunned into a Modernist-Sixties-Angular coma by our 1969 “Our Lady of the Ski Jump” home church, we were awed and humbled by the lovely neo-medieval cathedral.  The symbolism!  The artwork! The stained glass!  The organ!  The choir!  The kids were too busy looking at all the splendor to misbehave during the 2-hour-long liturgy.  It was a lovely way to begin the week.

I have also been trying to pray a decade of the rosary each day with the kids.  We pray it aloud and talk about the Sorrowful Mysteries.  It’s not much, but it is something.  My kids also really like doing the Resurrection Eggs.  It’s  a fun little activity that brings the message of Holy Week and Easter into a language that kids can understand.  It would be easy enough to make these on your own.  Check out Mandi’s DIY Resurrection Eggs printables at Life Your Way.

Wednesday marked the 17th anniversary of my father’s death; the day always puts me in a pensive mood.  I miss him more now than I did a decade or so ago.  I always find myself thinking, “What would Dad say to that?”  “How would Dad respond in this situation?”  “What would Dad be doing now if he were still alive?”  A lot of what-ifs?  I am sad that he was never able to meet my husband or my children…I know he would have loved them.  My Dad really liked babies and little kids.  I wish definitely I could have had more time with him and I feel lucky that I was able to have as much time with him as I did.

Tomorrow I am trying to get up the gumption to take all four kids to the Children’s Stations of the Cross at church.  Hubby is going to be busy moving trees at the Ranch (a.k.a. our yard).  More on that later!

Easter blessings to all and to all a good night!

 

 

 

First post: wine, birthdays and cult classic tv

So, it should probably be said I have had a few glasses of Cabernet. But it is Thri-day (a.k.a Friday-on-a-Thursday around here, with much of our engineer population off on Fridays.) Hubby is watching Twin Peaks on Netflix. The 1990s version. I can’t help but recognize the soundtrack from one of my high-school-era Pier One meditation music CDs. And is that Kyle McLaughlin? He looks so young.

Anyhow, I have been meaning to get back to blogging for a while now. I started one several years ago but it really didn’t take off because… children. We’ll see if I am more up to the task this present moment. I have always loved to write but get distracted easily. My lovely sister and sister-in-law have inspired me to start blogging again.

This weekend is my oldest daughter’s birthday – and subsequent party. She is so excited. I absolutely adore this gorgeous girl, but she is so different in personality from me. For one thing, she is completely and utterly an extrovert. I took one of those personality tests ages ago and forget the alphabet soup-type label they awarded me with at the end but I am most certainly not an extrovert. Oldest Daughter wanted to invite her whole class to her birthday party. I, on the other hand, feel awkward about getting RSVP texts from parents I don’t know. She wants to have play dates with Ella and Mackenzie and Lily and Morgan and Madison and Lindy and Annabelle every single day of the week and I want to ignore the texts from their mothers and pretend we are on quarantine with pandemic flu. But I will try. Because it is her birthday. And you only turn six once. So I will be brave. And I will be pleasant. And I will be fun. I will not ruin my sweet well-liked daughter’s glory day. But I will most certainly blog later about how completely goofy I felt! Tune in for more…are you so excited?

OK, Downton Abbey. I am ever so sad. I almost cried at the finale. Literally, I really was not impressed with seasons 3, 4, and 5. (What the heck? The Bates couple are like piggy backing in prison. It’s like, jump, jump, jump.) But season six? It is tied up in a nice little beautiful bow. I love Lady Mary. She is so cold, yet so real. I wish I could be like her (see previous paragraph – how would Lady Mary respond to young George’s requests for his whole class to attend his birthday party? Probably not as ninny-ish as I.)

Update: Tuesday, March 15, 2016: Made it through the party! It was actually not so bad. About 13 little girls at our local art/children’s museum. They played. They made crafts. They ate cake. I chatted with their parents and the world didn’t end. And Oldest Daughter (heretofore known by the alias of “Bellie”) had an absolutely fabulous birthday weekend. I just love her. Pretty much every single day she goes to bed saying, “This was the best day EVER!” I pray that she will always be an optimist.

I am writing as hubby finishes watching the series one finale of Twin Peaks. The info page says that in this episode we will FINALLY DISCOVER WHO KILLED LAURA PALMER. All I know is that the creepy red-headed lady with the eye patch seems pretty darn suspicious to me. Of course, I haven’t really been watching, just eavesdropping from the next room. However, I am betting this conclusion is going to be EPIC.

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A birthday party? I think I need to SCREAM!!!

Tune in next time for Netflix binge-watching updates, another edition of the best day ever, and possibly a chance to catch me slightly tipsy courtesy of Bota Box! Toodles.