Standing in my bedroom in 1974, my mother schooled me once again with her steps for finding the perfect job. Having heard it all before, I wanted to scream. At 22 years old, I was now a college graduate and, in my snarky opinion, no longer needed her advice.
But as I pounded the streets of San Francisco’s Financial District in my long, homemade jean skirt covered in embroidered flowers and a peasant blouse that slid down my right shoulder, I began to wonder whether perhaps her words were true. High-end law firms and such had an image to protect – and looking like a bygone hippie didn’t fit the bill.
I figured out the job thing, and several years later, I became a new mother. Seeing Mom hovering in the wings with more suggestions made my eyes roll once again. Between my innate love for children and having babysat all my life, I was sure that raising an infant would be a no-brainer. I didn’t need advice from any person or book, thank you very much.
Then reality hit.
“Jackie,” Mom began, “babies cry for one of three reasons: a dirty diaper, hunger or fatigue. Rule each one out, and I bet she’ll stop crying.” Sure enough, when I became more diligent with changing her soggy pants, calm reigned supreme.
From the time I was born in 1952, I was groomed by my parents to be fiercely independent, a role I took seriously. Being the only girl amid three brothers, it was crucial not only to stand up for myself, but also to take care of my needs. No one else was going to do it for me. Sixty-six years later, this burning desire to be completely self-sufficient has led me to create many unnecessary mistakes along the way, as well as waste precious time. No more!
Each Dec. 31, I reflect on what area of my life needs tweaking for personal growth. There was my “year of no fear,” where I said “yes” to everything that presented itself, even if out of my comfort zone. While I’m good at taking care of myself, when others require attention, any desires I might have sit on the back burner, so there was the “year of putting me first.” In the “year of detachment,” I released all that was holding me back, physically and emotionally. The year 2019 will be my “year of asking for help.”
Long ago, I had this distorted view that wanting support was a sign of weakness. I longed to appear invincible, especially to my kids. After all, I was Super Mom. I had a persona to live up to. As I’ve slowly begun to let down my guard and reach out, I find myself wondering if the giver doesn’t benefit, too. When I’m of service, I’m left with a lovely feeling of social cooperation, and as each smile of appreciation for my help appears, I gain trust in my ability to continue to share information. But mostly, there’s a feeling of happiness because I connect to another human soul. I now see that by stubbornly not reaching out, I’ve been denying loving friends the opportunity to do their own meaningful work.
I don’t believe we were ever intended to walk this earth alone; instead, we need to grab each other’s hands as we travel the rocky ups and downs of life. Going forward, should someone be so kind to accept the challenge and rescue me from my silly self, I plan to immediately interlace my fingers with theirs, accepting their help and promising that I’ll be there for them, too. With this new spirit of cooperation, I think this will be my best resolution yet.