Carrie Maldonado – Writer

Freelance writer, wordsmith, and novelist

So if you know me at all, you will know that I unfortunately am no stranger to 4-letter words (partially thanks to working in the construction industry for over ten years and partially because I am just a work in progress, thank you very much).  However, there is one 4-letter word that just makes me cringe. It evokes weakness, rejection and even anger in me. And yet, due to a series of events over the last 3 months (well, 2 1/2 years actually), I have found myself using it more than ever.

That word is ‘Help’.

Argh. Just writing it makes me cringe. Just look at it there on the page, being all pathetic and not even trying to carry its own weight. It even sounds weak. “” It sounds like something a baby otter would bleat out with its foot stuck in a trap (stupid otter), or a maybe what a baby cow with ‘veal’ stamped on its haunches calls as it’s being led to the happy room that no one ever leaves. Help. Sheesh.

Everyone knows that if you’ve got it going on you GIVE help…you don’t ask for it! If you need help, it means you did something wrong. If you don’t know how to do something, you’re probably stupid, and if you ask for help everyone will know it. If you can’t manage all your kids at the park, you’re just a crappy mom and do you REALLY want all your friends clued in to that? And God forbid if you need help financially. THAT is the true definition of having completely and totally failed at life.

The end.

At least, until you find out that you have TWO babies in your tummy, and not just one. And then your ‘family friendly’ company welcomes you back from maternity leave by laying you off, which is a teeny tiny problem because you just started a  gym and your salary was kind of important. But that’s okay because you always wanted to be a consultant and coach anyway, but MAN, is it supposed to be this hectic? And your au pair who is the only child care option you can afford for the hours you need decides she hates your GUTS …and I won’t go into that whole mess again.

So eventually, that 4-letter word just slips out. For me, it started innocently enough. I was noticing that contrary to what I was telling myself, my au pair was not just ‘super quiet’, but actually was seething with hatred and there was probably no

resolution other than one of us leaving, and frankly, I was here first. So I reached out to a wonderful friend to ask if she could…gulp…come help with the brood.  It might sound funny to you reading this, but my heart was pounding as I IM’d her because I just knew I was putting her in a horrible spot by asking and I felt so guilty because she’s so nice and now I was forcing her to say no which she probably would feel really bad about (I’m sick, I know!) But she said yes and we were able to go from a puke-inducing negative home situation to something that is downright happy, very quickly.

And the 4-letter-word-using continued! A friend and I were planning a play date and I kept suggesting it be a ‘home’ playdate. Mostly because ‘home’ anything is all I can afford AND it’s impossible to watch Frick, Frack, and Bisky free range. She kept suggesting the park so I had to do it. I had to say “I can only go to the park if you help me with the boys”…and I DIDN’T DIE!!!

I’ve had to do it with other people too…sometimes it’s for financial assistance, sometimes it’s for help with the kids, sometimes it’s for work.  A big one is picking up the phone and telling SOMEONE that hey, I’m feeling overwhelmed, and scared, and I don’t know if I’m doing any of this right. I’d be lying if I said part of me still didn’t feel like asking for help meant I was doing it wrong. On the other hand, some people I really admire tell me I’m finally doing something right. And BOY…if nothing else, have I EVER gotten a lot more compassionate towards others, so that’s a good thing.

It’s something I try to teach my kids…it’s smarter to ask for help that not try something new, but it’s going to go over a lot better if they see me doing it and not just talking about it. So thanks, life. All those punches in the face have been heard and received. But next time, can we go it a little easier?

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