Asking for help — even a half-cup of help — is difficult for most of us. We like to be the helpers, not the helped.
I have borrowed an egg or sugar from a neighbor. I’ve got several go-to neighbors in our apartment building. I’ve done it more than once.
Honestly, I’ve usually sent the kids to do my borrowing. (The same way I’ve sent them to the subway musician with a dollar to put in an open guitar case.) Kids are good at doing the begging, borrowing and paying out for the parents.
I’ve been thinking about all of this while reading The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids by Madeline Levine. She says:
Women often slide into unhealthy dependency when we turn to our children for the loving connections missing in our adult relationships…The idea of trekking over to a neighbor’s house when the pantry is short an item or two seems almost laughable now. The easy camaraderie that existed among working-class women, a function of both desire and necessity has been lost to take-out food, housekeepers and a fear that revealing our problems, no mater how incidental, will result not in support but in embarrassment.
Hmmmm, yes. To counter the self-reliance I feel imposed on me (by who? my church? my education? my status?) I’ve made my Rule Number One: Pile on the People. While I don’t like asking for help from anyone, I do need it. A husband with Parkinson’s Disease, three kids, a full-time job and a time-consuming writing habit, I, in fact, need all the help I can get. (Another mantra — draw the circle wide.)
There is a benefit not just for us, the borrowers, but for the friend across the hall, the one whom we borrowed from. In exchange for the egg that she lent (gave) us, she received a handful of warm kid-made peanut butter cookies. I wanted to take a picture of the cookies to post on the blog, but there are only a few crumbs left.
(I wrote about this book on my other blog, my blog about writing and being connected: http://gettingmyessayspublished.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/a-generation-of-disconnected-kids/)