I'm a fiercely independent person. Partly, I think I was born into it. I'm an Aries. But I also think I grew into it. My Dad died when I was eleven years old. Cancer sucks. My Mom was working as a nurse, so she was able to work to support our family. My sister and I grew up in a nice home, in a nice neighborhood. Not going to college was never an option for me. I remember my Mom telling me many times how fortunate we all were that she had a career. I witnessed firsthand how important my Mom's independence was to our family.
I've always taken pride in the fact that I can take care of myself. I love helping people, and I never hesitate to offer help when I see people in need. However, I have a really hard time asking for, or accepting help from others.
I've realized that independence has a price.
I get really frustrated at times at home when I make dinner, give the kids a bath, get them in their jammies, read them stories, put them in bed, clean the dishes, make the lunches, prepare meals for the next day, fold the laundry, log on to the computer to work...all without my husband ever asking if I need help. To his credit, I'd probably say no anyway. What I really want is for him to just help, without asking if I need it. Because for some reason, to me, admitting that I need help is like admitting that I can't do it all myself.
I was thinking back recently to the times when I was in the hospital after my babies were born. I had to have a c-section with both of their births. My husband didn't spend the night at the hospital with me. I knew he'd be more comfortable at home, and besides, I could do this. I even kept my babies with me in my hospital room, instead of in the nursery, because I could do this. And I did. When they'd wake every hour or two at night, I'd struggle to pull myself up, painfully reach over into their little bassinet and figure out the least painful position to try to nurse them. I didn't even like asking the nurses for help, but one of them gave it anyway. She would take Seesa to the nursery for a couple hours in the middle of the night, insisting that she needed her time at the "beauty parlor". She'd wash her, change her, feed her...while I slept. Then she'd bring her back smelling so good and I be a little rested. That first night at home with Seesa, I recall waking up over and over throughout the night, trying to breastfeed her. She wasn't getting even close to enough milk to satisfy her and she'd wake up screaming within less than an hour. By the wee hours of the morning, she wouldn't even latch on anymore and just cried in my arms while I held her, helpless and exhausted. I finally broke down crying myself, and called for my husband to help me. He took her, fed her a bottle and I collapsed in bed. Defeated.
It's probably having kids that has really shown me the price I pay for my independence. I do need help. I need people for so many reasons. I look back on those very early days of Motherhood. When I was desperately hanging onto my independence. I wish that I had asked for help. I wish that I had asked my husband to stay in the hospital with me. If only so that I could share the experience and have the memories of it reside somewhere other than just in my own mind.
I actually wrote this post months ago, but remembered it tonight, and felt inspired to post it. Sometimes, life just gets overwhelming. I'm usually the one who always finds the silver lining, no matter what is going on. The one who refuses to let things get me down, never gives up faith and tries to hold everyone else up. But sometimes... I want someone to hold me up. Just for a while.