Is it still April Fool’s day?
Because being 7 months pregnant, moving into your parent’s house, being responsible for a 4 and 2 yr old, and completely throwing out your back must be a joke.
It just has to be.
Oh wait. It’s not. That’s actually my life right now.
I can’t stand up straight. I can’t put any weight on my right leg. I use my tall laundry basket as a walker because it slides across the tile floor better than the rolling chair. I would say I look like my 94 year old grandma except that I just saw a video of her walking at a rehab facility and she looks in much better shape than I do.
I go about the house putting things I need in the laundry basket and then beg my 2 year old to help me with everything else. So far this morning, she has thrown out her own dirty diapers, let the dog out, fetched my phone, and spilled her cereal all over the floor which the dog proceeded to lick up while I laid there screeching out instructions and commands that neither of them took notice of.
When I tried to distract my daughter from pooping so that I didn’t have to move off the couch to change her, I realized that um, yea. I need help.
I think that’s why when my mother-in-law offered to stay with me, I was nearly brought to tears.
Ok, fine. I cried.
And I paused slightly before saying yes. And of course my yes came with “only if you want to” and “don’t feel obligated” and “are you sure?”, followed by a slight internal panic of the house is a mess, I can’t get off the couch, there is a sticky spot on the floor where dog spit mixed with milk and cheerios and OMG OMG OMG.
But really, is there any other choice? I. can’t. move.
And so I said yes, please come and stay with me. Please help me.
Just don’t judge.
And I guess that’s it. That’s the fear that often keeps us from accepting help.
The fear of being judged. Judged for showing that I am not strong enough. That I just can’t do it myself.
That alone, I am not enough.
We say yes to everything that shows our capabilities. That shows what we CAN do. How MUCH we can do. We say yes to everything that puts us in a good light. Even if it annoys us. Even if we don’t want to or don’t have time. Even if it comes at the cost of our families or ourselves.
We are much more hesitant to say yes to accepting help. To displaying our weakness for the whole world to see. Is it my fault my back went out? Am I stupid for picking up my 4yr old child when I’m pregnant? Am I a failure because I left everything till the last minute and now I can’t do them because I’m hurt?
In my moments of panic before she arrived, I thought of those hundred things I put off until today. Like finish packing for our move and cleaning the house. Things like grocery shopping and showering.
But the truth is I can’t do it. I actually, physically can’t do it. And it’s shocking to me. Because I am an excellent faker. I can fake confidence. I can fake competence. And I can even fake ability (unless it comes to sports). But I can’t fake standing up or walking. My muscles either work or they don’t. Kind of the reason I can’t fake it with sports. My muscles just don’t do what they should do in those situations.
So I accept the help. And it’s hard. It’s humbling.
But here’s the thing I’ve learned about accepting help;
I know, crazy, right?
But it really is freeing. We are made to be relational people and I think in an effort to be independent and strong and show our abilities, we forget the relational part. We forget that we were not made to live alone. To isolate. And it gets dangerous when we strive to appear strong by being independent.
Here’s the irony. Some of the strongest people I know? They are the ones that ask for help. That rely on help. That don’t make it through a single day without help.
The mother of a boy with Cerebral palsy who hires a respite worker so that she can catch up on sleep. The father who brings his two kids with autism to the Special Friends Sunday school class so he can go to church with his wife. The parents who go to marriage counseling to ensure they keep their relationship strong under the pressure of receiving a fatal diagnosis for their child.
When I think of all these families affected by special needs, I don’t see weakness.
I see strength. They can’t fake it. There is too much at stake to even try. And so they accept the help. They even ask for it. Sadly enough, sometimes they have to beg for it.
And I guarantee they have wished on many occasions that it didn’t have to be this way. That they could do it all on their own. But they know something we don’t. They know they need community.
They aren’t resentful of all the things they have to do. They are enlisting people to get those things done.
They aren’t spending precious family time trying to make their outside persona look perfect. They are inviting people into their beautiful mess.
I think we could all learn a thing or two from these families.
So today I am forced to accept the help. To be vulnerable and invite my mother in law into my messy life. In the non-showered, kids are a mess, house is a disaster, sorry-but-this-is-my-life kind of way. Because I can’t fake it anymore.
I definitely can’t fake taking care of this baby in my belly. That has to be done for real. So for the sake of the baby, I will accept help. For the sake of my 2 year old who shouldn’t have to learn how to change her own diapers (though using the potty would be nice), I will accept help. For the sake of my 4 year old who wanted to go to school so badly today that I called a sitter to drive her home, I will accept help.
And I will remember the freedom that comes with that help. With suspending judgment on myself. With allowing myself to be vulnerable in my community.
While looking for a new house, we often heard that privacy is really important. But to be honest, I am excited that where my backyard ends, someone else’s begins. That to the right and left of our house, kids are outside playing.
Because being tied to a community is more freeing than living with no strings attached.
Because it’s in community that you can ask for help. That you can help someone else.
The bright side of my April fool’s joke of a life today? Catching up on Nashville and Parenthood and Grey’s Anatomy.
So accept the help – because even if the only thing you get out of it is catching up on some primetime somewhat-trashy TV, it’s worth it.
2 Corinthians 12:9 “For My strength is made perfect in weakness”