As a grown up, neediness isn’t an admirable quality. (If this is news to you, perhaps some self-help reading is in order.)
Really, as soon as you are capable of putting your own pants on, the goal is to move away from neediness. We guide our children towards greater and greater independence so that they can be free-standing, capable citizens, contributing to a better world. We attempt to role model being a strong and capable person, someone who can be relied on, someone who can help those in need.
But every now and then, life deals you some cards where being strong and independent isn’t as easy. Where you’ll find yourself in a situation a little over your head. A moment to say “hey guys, I could use a little help here.”
And in those moments, the response we are all quick to deliver is:
“How can I help?”
“Please let me know if there is anything I can do.”
These are phrases we’ve all extended countless times. With sincere concern. But how often do we get to actually act on those words?
We’ve been needy more than I am comfortable with here. I’ve had to accept a whole new level of “can I get a little help here?” It is humbling when you have to say to your 9 yr old “Can you please help me understand what this person is trying to say to me?” At work it has happened more than once that I’ve had to concede that I need help as a chatty customer far exceeds my coffee-related German vocabulary. It can be hard asking for help.
Poor German skills aside, we’ve been slowly but surely becoming capable here. It has felt good, moving towards independence in our Swiss world. Less confused and wide eyed. But as we’ve come to know with certainty, this too shall pass…
Last month was a bit of a set-back on the strong and capable scale. Two months of no rent payment from our tenant in Bragg was a substantial financial hit and created a need to find new tenants once again. At the same time, learning that my Nana was facing her final days meant that a trip to Canada was important. We needed help, on many fronts.
Bless her, Mom helped to make the cost of the last minute international flight much less painful. Friends in Bragg rallied once again and pulled off miracles to address the tenant situation and help set us back on track there. Others at work stepped up to cover a couple work shifts & Manolo took over the family vacation on his own with a little help from Titi so that I could be away.
Trust me, this was not a fun needy position to be in. But as the darkness began to clear and we saw that there was once again a light at the end of the tunnel, I was able to truly appreciate the vastness of the support surrounding us. If we are strong all the time, we miss the chance to witness just how kind and loving our friends and family are.
Some of what I heard during these days was:
“I have a better job than you do – I’ll buy lunch” (ouch, but so true!),
“Sure we can head up to your house to patch some drywall!” (Wow, really!?)
“I have an expense account, I can get this” (Thank goodness for friends traveling with bigger budgets than mine and willing to come long distances to brighten your day!)
And “my treat” for an over-the-top special High Tea at the Empress with my sister.
Not only did these words take the sting out of our temporary tight situation, but they also warmed my heart so much.
We all know that giving feels great. For many of us, extending support and coming to the rescue for others is part of what defines us. Especially as moms, we are in a constant support role – being strong, fixing problems, finding solutions, patching holes, juggling it all.
But in being strong, are you missing out on the chance to be the recipient of the help, the kindness, the love? Being strong all the time isn’t real. Be it a death in the family, the loss of a job, a divorce, struggling with depression, life has a way of challenging just how strong we are. How about simply admitting that you feel really, really tired.
We surround ourselves with friends and family, not just for the laughs and the holiday gatherings, but for those moments when we can’t be strong.
The help that came this month was not just in sharing a glass of wine, but in sharing words of support as we processed the loss of our beloved Nana. Special friends taking the time to share a poem, to express their condolences, to send along a virtual hug or make us laugh. It really, truly makes a difference.
Of course one must not get too comfortable in the role of being needy – it’s not a place to aspire to linger in but rather to pass through.
We need to share the role of being strong, of being the one who helps. It gives you an important perspective that you can pay forward for the next time someone in your tribe needs a little support.
And now that we find ourselves basking in the glow of that light at the end of the tunnel, it is so much warmer knowing just how many people surrounded us to help us get there.