“I don’t want you to help me! NO! NO! Don’t touch it!” she screamed as she aggressively jammed the “outie” part of the zipper against the “inny” part of the zipper over and over and over again to no avail.
“Charlee, we have to go. Let’s make a good choice. Would you rather get frustrated and cry or just ask Mommy for help?”
No response as she repeatedly attempted to “DO IT ALL BY MYSEE–EE–LLLL–FF!”
Five minutes later I gathered her limp body off of the living room floor, exhausted from the sobs and the tireless slamming of the jacket against the wall. She had clearly chosen to “get frustrated and cry” as opposed to the alternative, “ask for help.”
Sadly, she gets this from her mother.
I recalled a few months earlier when I had also had my very own “zipper moment.” I had been checking my watch every 38 seconds to see if Clark was off work yet only to realize he wouldn’t be home for 4 hours and 38, no, 37 minutes. Will we all still be alive by then? I could make no such promise. Hattie was 5-months-old and had recently arrived at her “I have acid reflux; WHY THE HECK CAN’T ANYONE FIGURE THIS OUT” stage and Charlee was 22-months-old and getting a head start on the Terrible Twos. And I was done. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually depleted.
Charlee was in her room throwing a fit about fruit snacks. I sat on the foot of the guest bed holding the littlest crying one, bouncing up and down like a rabbit on 5-Hour-Energy, trying breathlessly to control my aggression, hoping not to approach the threshold for Shaken Baby Syndrome. As I bounced, I remember audibly repeating, “Please. Stop. Crying. Please. Stop. Crying.” Maybe one out of the three of us would listen.
Then my phone rang. It was Clark.
“Hey Babe, I’m gonna be home late today.”
I couldn’t get a word out of my throat. I felt a huge knot form and before I could stop he could hear the sobs from the other end of the line. “O…. kay….”
“Has it been a bad day?”
Um. No. It’s been fan-freakin-tastic. Can you hear the two of them? They’re screaming because we’re all having so much fun playing Candy Land and creating educational crafts.
“Call your mom. Tell her to come over. She would love to help you.”
“No seriously. Call her. I’ll leave as soon as I can.”
“O… kay… Bye.”
Ten minutes later my phone rang. This time it was my mom.
“Hey, how ya doing? Clark called and said you might want some help. I’m on my way over right now.”
My husband knows me way too well. He knows my independent, youngest-child, I-CAN-DO-THIS-ALL-BY-MYSELF heart would never surrender and actually ask for help. Are you kidding me? I don’t need help. I am perfectly capable of handling this motherhood thing on my own, thank you very much. I got myself into this gig and I can get myself through it with my teeth gritted and my fists clenched. I’m a REALLY good mom, DANG IT, and REALLY good moms don’t need help.
But can I tell you how happy I was that he called her? I let out a breath. I could see light through the darkness and hear birds chirping amidst the heaving.
I’ve struggled with asking for help my whole life, but it took me 6 months with two children to finally bring to my attention that this was a real issue, not just a quirk or a personality trait. I knew my resistance had a lot more to do with pride than I cared to admit. God began to show me that asking for help isn’t a show of weakness but in fact the ultimate sign of strength and humility, the admission that I am not God and I was not created to do this alone.
It’s okay to need help. It’s okay to admit that today has sucked. Hard. It’s okay to need a second to come up for air every now and then. And it’s even okay to call your mom (or sister or neighbor or BFF) to rescue you… when you’re 29.
In Exodus 17, Moses has just brought the Israelites out of Egypt. But while traveling they are attacked by the Amalekites and forced into battle. Moses, in his old age, heads to the top of the hill with Aaron and Hur while Joshua chooses the strongest men to go down to the battlefield.
Moses raises his staff as his men fight in an appeal to God for help and enablement. “As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning” (Ex. 17:11). Moses is old and tired. An entire battle is a long time to keep your hands raised up in the air. Thankfully, he has help. Verse 12 says, “When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up — one on one side, one on the other — so that his hands remained steady till sunset.”
I also feel old and tired most days. I also feel like there is a battle raging under my roof most days. And I also, like Moses, can see a difference in the outcome of my battle when I hold up my hands in surrender, in an admission that I can’t do this on my own. Sadly, my arms get tired pretty quickly.
God knew they would. He didn’t create me or Moses or you to hold up our hands on our own. He never expected us to fight our battles in isolation.
But I am not Moses. And I lack the humility to admit that I need someone else to bring me a rock to sit on or someone to prop up my hands. So I just watch my army go down in flames because I am too prideful to admit that I need reinforcements.
I need encouragement.
I need validation.
I need coffee.
I need help.
I have plenty of Aarons and Hurs that are willing to prop up my hands and pull up a rock. And so do you. It’s just a matter of asking.
So are you more like Moses or Charlee? Will you accept the help and win the battle? Or would you rather lay on the floor in prideful determination, throw a fit and refuse to accept the perfectly capable help that stands inches away?
I have chosen to be a two-year-old much more often than I care to admit. Perhaps it’s time to listen to my own advice.
Jordan, would you rather let yourself get frustrated and cry or just ask for help?
FINE. It takes a village, right? Well, welcome to my village. Care to pull up a rock?