Pumpkin recently struggled to climb up a playground spiral pole.
She started out thinking that it was going to be no problem.
She tried to get one foot up and fell. She tried again to scale that first platform and faltered. She grunted, scratched, and clawed at the pole to no avail. Her little face turned red and her knuckles blanched as she gave it her all.
I got this face about a second before the tantrum started:
I watched as she writhed in frustration. (I also took pictures. Stop judging me.) Pumpkin didn’t realize that she wasn’t quite capable of climbing the spiral on her own. She needed help but didn’t know how to ask for it.
When I offered to my assistance (“Mama help?”) her face broadened with the awareness that she could do it if I gave her a boost. All she needed was a little nudge in the right direction. The moment was over before I knew it and Pumpkin went on her merry way.
Later as I reflected on the day, I thought about how often I have struggled like Pumpkin. In solitude. How many times have I believed that the reason for my strife is that I just wasn’t trying hard enough? How many times have I done the same thing over and over thinking that this time it’ll turn out different?
Pumpkin’s time at the playground reminded me of the importance of asking for help.
Asking for help is a muscle.
When you first start using a muscle, it feels awkward. You get a little sore afterwards. And so it goes with asking for help; it feels funny at first. You feel weird and a little embarrassed about asking someone to talk something through with you.
The amazing thing about help is that once you ask for it, you get it.
And it’s not just direct “let me help you with that” help. Once I demonstrate my willingness to humbly ask for guidance, the universe conspires to support me.
It doesn’t matter if I’m asking for help with yard work or a work presentation; I’m amazed by how willing and even eager folks are to help me. Often, before I even get the request out of my mouth, I’m met with a nodding head and a “no problem!”
Asking for help is a skill.
Pumpkin wasn’t born knowing when she would need help from adults. At 18 months old, she doesn’t know what that climbing up a pole will require a boost. She has to be taught when to ask for help.
In this way (and several others, I’m sure), I’m a lot like a toddler. Asking for help doesn’t come naturally to me and it’s a learned behavior. Moreover, I have to be reminded when I need to reach out.
I’m grateful to have a partner and trusted friends who can tell me when I can’t do something on my own. I’m even more grateful to be that trusted partner and friend for a few special people.
Asking for help takes practice and often I wait too long or do it clumsily. But most importantly, I still do it.
I’m not meant to navigate my life alone. I want to be surrounded by the love and support of my loved ones. I have to give them the opportunity to step up and I can’t do that without inviting them in, without sometimes asking for their help.