Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lessons Learned From My Christmas 'Break'

Here's what I look at all day, every day.

It has been a looooooong week since my ankle surgery.

Unfortunately, my initial tendencies lately are to feel sorry for myself, sitting around on my bed all day. For those of you who think that sounds wonderful, sitting in bed having others attend to you 24/7, it is pretty overrated; especially for someone like myself who likes being independent.

I will admit that the sweet little bundle of beautiful baby boy who rests to my right and shares my confinement does make it more bearable. But still. For example - I used to have free access to the multitude of snacks in my kitchen without anyone having to know of my terrible treat-eating habits. Now if I want one, I have to ask someone to get it for me. This is all fine and good, except that after asking a couple of times I can't bring myself to ask again. "Could you go get mom another plate of cookies from the freezer downstairs? Oh, and a bowl of ice cream?" It just doesn't seem right. I'm sure this is a good thing... but when I just want a chocolate crinkle cookie from my stash in the downstairs freezer and have to ask someone to bring it to me I can guarantee you my stash is being depleted when I'm not looking. Revealing the places where my stash is hidden really stinks.

I think that I have learned a few wonderful lessons this past week, however. It has been a tough one, but a good one. I have mentioned before that we live in an awesome neighborhood. It's like an extension of the family, really. And when something like a broken ankle and a newborn baby happen in the same week, people really want to help. Usually when I have a baby and someone offers to bring us dinner I will tell them that I appreciate the offer but we are fine and have plenty of capable cooks around. Even if I want to accept their offers of baked goods and delicious meals this just seems like the right thing to do. Just say no, a little voice inside my head whispers to me. You are independent! You can do it all! You don't need any help.

That voice is me, the part of me who wants to do it all. The part of me that wants to show the world that no matter how large our family is or what happens to us, we can handle things ourselves. It has been difficult to admit to, but that voice is wrong. Sometimes, it takes a village to love and support a family during a tough time - and this is one of those times.

Not only do I want to accept any and all offers of food and assistance, I sort of need to. I can't even stand for more than a few minutes at a time and even that about kills me, trying to precariously balance on my good foot while holding my broken ankle off the ground. I'm stuck in bed pretty much all of the time unless I am feeling up to making my way to the couch. Allen is busy being mom AND dad when he's home, tending to the housework and the kiddos, and as soon as the teenagers get home from school he's off to his other job - the one he gets paid to do. (Love that man!)

I'd ask the teenagers to pitch in and make dinner but it seems they are in a constant state of doing homework or tending to my other little needs during the evening (changing diapers, helping littler kids with homework and getting PJs on, helping me make school lunches for the next day, maintaining the house, etc.) not to mention the nights they have their own obligations (church activities, basketball games, practices, etc.).

So I've changed. I have learned to respond to offers of help not with, "I appreciate that, but we're fine" but instead with this new phrase:

"That would be awesome. Thank you."

I am not sure why it is so difficult to let others serve us. When I am asked to help others, I love to do so. I want to be the first in line to bring in a meal for a family with a new baby or whatnot. I love the feeling of being able to fulfill a need for someone. So why do I have a hard time letting others do the same for me? They would not ask to help if they did not want to do so. It has been a good lesson for me to accept these kind acts of service. I am filled with overwhelming gratitude for the wonderful neighbors and friends who have done so much for us in the past week.

To everyone who has sent well-wishes and amazing food and sweet little gifts our way, thank you. You have all helped make this much more bearable and we are so grateful for everything.

A million times, thank you.


Richard & Natalie said...

And here I still have yours and Kobe's Christmas gifts in my car. Shame on me. I just keep worrying about finding a good time to bring them to you and not get in the way. But really Gerb, I hope you know that I would be more than willing and ready to help you at a moments notice- please, don't hesitate to ask.
We are given trials to learn from and unfortuantely, some trials are a lot harder than others. I think being bedridden with a broken leg and new baby definitely qualifies for one of those. I'm glad you are letting others help as hard as it may be. Sometimes greater strength is shown in asking for help than in trying to do everything on our own. You still rock- now even more so.

Brown Thumb Mama said...

Yes! Accepting help is just the hardest thing ever. Wait--asking for help is even harder.

Having been a "helper" for all my childhood has made me very independent too! I understand where you're coming from but am glad you're willing to let others help.

Believe me, I'd be on a plane to you in a hot minute if work would let me go!!

Rachel said...

Oh boy howdy do I ever hear you! You are living the life I lived for three years! Now you know why one day in tears I told The SM it would be easier if I left this earth and he could re-marry a partner!

The receiving help is SO HARD! I feel exactly as you do. I am the one who does and gives to others. We're capable of doing things oursevles/taking care of ourselves so when help was needed..... my pride took a good slapping in the face.

I wish I could offer you some fabulous wisdom from the lessons I've learned but I have to say... I'm still tripping over my stubborn old self.

I can't tell you how word for word this post reflects my same feelings and thought process.

Live in each moment. That is the best I can give you. Enjoy that baby. Soon enough you'll be running around and won't have time to just sit and snuggle him. :D

I'm so glad you have such good support and I can tell you that Natalie means every word she says. Anyone that will come and get your sons puked on bedding in the middle of the night, take it home and wash it, is an angel. Which she did for me....

Sarah said...

GERB!! I am behind on reading posts, so WOW!!!! Congrats on the Healthy Baby boy (though I am SUPER curious about his name) and I am so sorry about the ankle.

Accepting help was hard for me too, but seeing my family fed when I couldn't do it was VERY satisfying and worth it at the end of the day. I literally don't know what I would have done without the support network I had during my surgeries. Something about it has made me want to reach out and help EVERYONE who is down, it's a pleasure to help back.

Please get well quick and give that baby a hug and kiss from me!
You'll be in our prayers!

Anaise said...

Your leg looks like it hurts.

I'm sorry.

Your baby is beautiful.


I have a hard time being helped, too.

I understand.

Stephenie said...

I am so sorry what you have had to go through. And I understand the part about having people help you. I have been able to do it all on my own until this last baby. some placenta got left in me and I got so sick I thought I was going to die. The RS came and cleaned my house, Becky took my kids for a week, I had numerous meals brought in, and was so thankful. Flet like a looser and wanted to do it myself, but I was way too sick. Let 'em help. It's hard, but you need it. You'd do it for them. Wish I could send a little help and happiness your way.

olivia said...

man, you make me miss that neighborhood. sorry i'm not there anymore to get a piece of your "that would be awesome, thanks" epiphany.


love your fam. also makes me miss my fam...

Gerb said...

Natalie- You're awesome. Thanks for making my day on YOUR birthday. Who rocks now?

BTM- I know you would. That's why you're my long-standing favorite cousin. ;)

Rachel- It is hard. But so amazing to feel of the support and love of so many awesome neighbors and friends!

Sarah- Prayers are appreciated! And amen to all you said.

Anaise- Thanks! He's such a joy to share my days with. And yes, it is hard to accept help. But I think the blessings go both ways.

Steph- Your comment did send happiness my way. Thank you! I wish I could have been there for you when you went through your trial as well. Our family is pretty amazing, aren't they?

Olivia- You are missed as well. I can't wait to hear about the arrival of YOUR little man!

Kara said...

I was reminded of a recent relief society lesson. A sister who is dealing with some rough morning sickness commented, sometimes it is all we can do just to make it through the day and that's okay.

Another sister then responded with, and for those who's life currently allows them to do more it is our opportunity to serve.

Life truly is like that. Sometimes it is our time to serve and other times to let others serve us.