Oh, no, thanks–I’m fine. Got it all under control. Sure, one child broke her arm by falling off the zip line in our yard while we were hosting her grade’s back-to-school party, the day before school started. And we discovered that another needed to switch schools completely three days before. Oh, and there’s no water in the house this morning (plumbing problem), and there wasn’t yesterday, either. And we’re out of sugar. And there’s this emergency orthodontist appointment in fifteen minutes, half-an-hour away. But really, things are fine.
Fine, indeed, but the truth is, this week I really needed some help. And I got it. Fellow parents took over the hosting of the back-to-school party while my daughter and I headed to the ER, and later, a friend picked up the injured child’s sister, who came along for moral support but needed to go home as the visit lengthened into hours. When I couldn’t manage one more moment of the ER intensity, my husband took over until I (fortified with Cheez-its from the vending machine) was able to come back and rejoin the fight.
That same friend came through with the school supplies that the new school needed and the old school had not (a life-saver for a stressed-out child who wants to have everything right and a parent who can’t fit in another trip to town). It went on from there, with friends and neighbors stepping in for everything from barn chores to kid rides while my husband and I passed our various hot potatoes back and forth. Someone even brought me a Cherry Cola Slurpee just when I was feeling particularly low.
It’s been a bit of a tough back-to-school road around here, but made so much easier by everyone who just stepped in and helped, with no fanfare and few questions. Every time I felt like I just couldn’t do one more thing (and that was often) someone did something for me. That support made it so much easier for me to be kind and present with our kids during some really hard moments, and to be gentle on all of us when we weren’t at our best. I was a better parent and a better partner because I had back-up.
It’s easy to forget, sometimes, as our all-American self-sufficiency tells us to power through, that the people around us really want to help. It feels good to give somebody a hand, to be needed, to know we can all pull together. Accepting help lightens our load, and not just literally. I don’t have to go out and find three plain durable two-pocket folders before midnight, and I also feel the strength of my community around me.
Lots of people in my home state of Texas had a much harder week than we did, and they’re helping one another and rebuilding in ways that go far beyond a few rides and doing the post-party washing up. It’s good to accept help, it’s good to give help, it’s good to know that help is out there. Sure, we’ve got it all under control. But maybe not all by ourselves.