I'm so good at saying "no."
No, I don't need you to watch the boys.
No, I don't need help moving.
No, I don't need you to bring anything to the party.
No, we don't need any meals.
Then, I always say, "But it was so nice of you to ask, thank you." As I've lived in the South for awhile, I sometimes find myself adding, "And bless your heart for thinking of us."
I say "no" for several reasons. Sometimes, I don't need the help.
Other times, I'm like Owen as he strains to put on his own shoes. It takes an act of will for me to step back and let him struggle, because I know that if he moved the Velcro this much, the task would be done, and we wouldn't be late. Again.
Yet, he is militantly independent, and my interfering hands would hurt as much as a slap in the face. When I short-change his developing skills, I slap his sense of self, and steal his sense of accomplishment.
So, I let him struggle.
I recognize this quality, because I also need to do things by myself. As soon as Joel was home from the hospital, I wanted to get down to this mother-of-two business. I wanted to load them into their car seats, feed them, comfort them, and take them into the world, all by myself. I needed to know that I could do it, and that I could do the job well. There was no point pussyfooting around with extraneous, temporary help.
How selfish of me.
Yes, you heard that right. I denied others the right to take care of me. Ms Moon wrote about this very eloquently, and I encourage you to read her thoughts.
People long to take care of others. I long to hold my babies when they fall, resting them against my shoulder until the heaving sobs dissipate. I enjoy making meals for people when they have new babies because I believe in the Church of Casseroles and the grace of tender care. I am grateful to watch other people's children so that parents can rest, or take care of their business.
It's fertilizer for the soil, this caring business.
So, today, I said, "yes," when a friend of mine asked to take Owen for the afternoon. Paul took Joel to the doctor to remove the dressing from his surgery, and I suddenly had an afternoon to myself.
I got my hair done, and allowed Olivia to wash my hair with lavender shampoo. I imagine, in Heaven, there will be a whole room dedicated to hair washing and foot rubs. Then, Sarah cut my hair and colored it an almost magenta-red.
I arrived like this:
And now, because I said, "Yes," I feel beautiful and light.
I am once again ready to care for others.
If they let me.