Why is it so hard to ask for what you need? For me, at least, there are many reasons I struggle to ask people for what I really need. Probably the biggest one is that I often worry that people aren’t serious when they say, “if there is anything you need…”. Well, guess what, if they aren’t serious, they won’t follow through and that is okay. Often, though, I think people say that because they don’t really know how to help people in crisis.
I also worry that if I ask for help, I am seen as incapable of managing. However, the reality is that no person can be 2 places at once and there are finite hours to the day, so sometimes asking for help is the only option. Just tonight, I had to ask for help getting one son to team pictures on Saturday and, guess what, five minutes later he had a ride!
I think I often don’t ask for what I need because I don’t know what I need. As I sat in my therapist’s office last week, she helped me formulate some practical things I could cut back or get help managing. Due to this conversation, I went to my parents and asked them to pay for a housecleaner to come in twice a month so that I do not spend every weekend cleaning, rather than enjoying my sons. I followed through and found a wonderful woman within a few days. When she asked my needs, I started with “well, I am a newly single mom and there just aren’t enough hours in the day”. I left it at that and, when my quote came in she added a “single mom discount”. Wow! This, again, comes back to the idea of being vulnerable. I am not exploiting my situation, but rather just telling it like it is. People are more willing to help if they know how much it is needed.
After saying all that, I think it is also important that as friends, we move past the obligatory, “I am praying for you” or “let me know how I can help” (both are great, but often in crisis people need practical support with the day to day life stuff). Over the past few months, I have learned what it looks like for people to go above and beyond in providing support. These are some of the things that have helped me the most.
- A listening ear – to all those that have talked to me as I have cried and ranted…there was no judgement, just support. Also, sometimes it helps if you call the person as sometimes it is hard to believe that people really want to talk to you.
- Spontaneous care baskets – it can be as simple as flowers or a card with some fresh cookies or a basket of treats or even a gift card for a massage. All these things acknowledge grief, while show the need for a little TLC.
- Food – it could be Blue Apron gift cards or a hot meal delivered to the door. Both have blessed me in so many ways.
- Household help – one friend came for the day and helped me clean, another has come over and helped with a car issue and other things around the house I know nothing about
- Help with kids – for me, being the only driver at my house has necessitated the need for frequent rides my sons. For a parent of a younger child, it might be offering to babysit.
- Providing needed items – My parents took my boys shopping for school clothes and my church sent us a gift card and some basic school supplies.
- Be a liaison – I am new to this area, but I have friends that have reached out to their community to help me find child support or suggested where to look for a service I might need
- Financial help – I am not saying to write a blank check, but sometimes the offer to pay for something (like housekeeping as my parents did) or the give a discounted service, is extremely valuable. It isn’t the option for everyone, but it is for some.
Over the past few months, I have had countless conversations at coffee shops and on the soccer field or late at night over the phone. Never in my life, have I realized how loved I am and I am grateful to the friends and family who have taken the time to remind me of God’s love.