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Asking for what I need isn't something that comes easy to me. I'm pretty good at being vague or implying, but I have yet to just come out and say it. I'm getting better at it though. Slowly but surely I'm voicing my needs—and wants.
I'm reminding myself that not everyone knows what I need just because I think they "should know" and not everyone is a mind reader. Not even my husband.
A lot of my fears with asking are tied to perception—how I think others will perceive me, maybe even how I'll perceive myself. They also force me to come to terms with my truth, one that I still struggle to swallow: I can't do it all, be it all, handle it all, no matter how much I—my heart—wants to. Alas, I'm kind of a regular human, not a super one like I initially suspected, and at times short on patience.
As mothers there are many things we simply shouldn't be afraid of, especially asking for what we need. We should throw guilt to the wayside and commend ourselves for having the courage to voice them. Not only are we engaging in self care, but in a sense I believe we are giving our children permission to do the same (hopefully minus the tantrum). Yes, it's OK to ask for what you need, to be vocal about what you need and to handle yourself with as much care as you handle the people you love.
Our to-do lists are ever-growing and someone always needs something.
Sometimes mama needs a minute. It's not uncommon for us to push ourselves to the breaking point. Our to-do lists are ever-growing and someone always needs something. There are days when it seems as if I've never stopped to catch my breath, and just when I'm about to, something begs for my attention. In an effort to fix, mend and address I go back to doing.
But recently I've started asking for a minute. Some days I just say that I need one and I go take it. I still need to work on doing so sooner, but I'm already seeing changes. Sometimes mama needs a minute to just breathe, to shift things back into perspective, to cry or to eat chocolate. Sometimes we need to take a break before reporting back to our most important job, and most often we're better for it (and we're less likely to feel like a jerk for losing our cool).
2. A hug
I used to get frustrated with my husband because I wanted him to be more affectionate, but not everyone is touchy-feely. While he's made more of an effort to show me the physical affection I crave, I make more of an effort to ask for a hug if I need one. He always obliges, which makes me wonder what took me so long. After a hard day, nothing is more comforting than finding my place in his arms. And when it comes to my babies, while they tend to shower me with hugs and kisses, sometimes I could use a little extra.
Asking for help doesn't make me incapable or less of a mom.
For a period of time I worked from home. At the time I felt like I was living my dream. I got to do what I loved and had more time for my family. But some days were so hard, juggling writing deadlines with a mobile baby and a big kid. Because I was doing what I had always wanted to do I felt like I had to show that I could handle it. I thought I had to prove myself over and over again. Otherwise why were we making this huge sacrifice?
Even now that I work part-time I still struggle with this at times. In my eyes asking for help suggested that it was too much for me, that I was biting off more than I could chew with this work-at-home life and the last thing I wanted to do was give that up.
But asking for help was a game-changer. Sure there were times when things didn't go so smoothly and I had to learn to be OK with my husband's way of doing things (#controlfreakproblems). But for the most part I was able to take off some of the stuff I had piled onto my plate and do a better job with what remained.
Sometimes I still have a hard time with asking for help; it doesn't come natural to me quite yet, and I might fall into the whole "I shouldn't have to ask" notion. But I've come to understand that asking for help doesn't make me incapable or less of a mom. It makes me a better mom and it strengthens my marriage. My husband wants me to lean on him and need him, and I've always believed that he is definitely worthy of needing. Plus there are some other pretty awesome shoulders in my life that are ready and willing for me to lean in. (So note to self, when someone offers help take it!)
4. Time to decide
Why is it that we always feel pressured to give someone an answer immediately after they ask a question? How many extra obligations have we acquired simply because the inner people pleaser in us said yes or we felt obligated. How many things would we have said no to if we had given it some additional thought? It is OK to respond with, "Do you mind if I think about it?" Or even better, "Let me think about it and I'll get back to you."
5. More or less of something
We know our limits and I think we should honor and be mindful of them. There are some things that we may need more of like sleep, cake, promo codes and quality time with loved ones, and there are other things that we might need less of like negativity from family and friends (even if it's well meaning) and bad attitudes. We may not always get what we ask for, but I think for some of us harnessing the courage, asking is a victory in itself.
There's a chance they'll say no. But there's also a chance they'll say yes.
While we may not be given it, I've learned that we shouldn't be afraid to ask for a chance at something. Some of the most amazing things have happened when I've put myself out there and leaped toward a dream or opportunity. Someone said yes.
At the same time I've also been told no. I've cried over opportunities that I felt were supposed to be mine and wondered and asked why. I felt as though maybe I wasn't good enough. But once the sadness passed and I was able to see things from a different perspective, not only had I learned and grown more through the process, but I felt grateful for the doors that closed because they kept me on path toward the one that was supposed to open—the right one.
So send that email inquiry, apply for the job, ask to work on that special project. There's a chance they'll say no. But there's also a chance they'll say yes, and some chances are certainly worth taking and asking for.