Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Help

I got home this afternoon, and my heart sank. The cleaning woman had NOT come, or even called, even though this was the every-other of our every other Tuesday arrangement. I mean, shit. Didn't she KNOW that this week of all weeks - after playing catch up since last Wednesday when Eli was in the hospital, and since Friday and Saturday when my goddaughter was here for the weekend, and since I've been extra busy at work and since next week I have visits to both the tax lady and the dentist -- that this was some help that, today at least, wasn't feeling at all like a luxury but in fact a total necessity?

So, tonight I've been listening to my favorite sulking music, doing dishes and folding laundry for a couple of hours - stuff that really could absolutely not go another day even if we get a sub in to do the rest of the cleaning tomorrow. As I was doing it, I was thinking about martyrdom.

It wont surprise regular readers of this blog, that martyrdom is a major temptation for me. And days like this, where I actually let a bunch of stuff go with the expectation that someone else will do it, only to have the Someone Else flake out, only adds to that temptation.

Here's how my train of thought went. I pretty much had to wash the dishes, so we'd have some clean ones to, you know, eat off of. But what about the laundry? It represented pretty much all our clothes, which were clean but unfolded. I could've dug the essentials out of it, and it could have gone another day, maybe. It certainly couldn't have gotten any MORE wrinkly, wadded up as it was in the basket. So, did I really have to do it, or was I hanging my own self on the Cross of the Clean Laundry? (Have I mentioned my deep and irrational hatred of folding laundry? Hate. it.)

I weighed it out, and decided that I would feel more annoyed watching the huge pile totter on top of the dryer all night, than just doing it and getting it over with. I decided that this time, it wasn't martyrdom (whew, though - narrow escape!) but was just that the line between Pretty Messy and Too Messy had been crossed.

Having dispensed with martyrdom, I then pursued another train of thought - this one about help. If you have a disabled husband, people are always telling you how much help you need. How much rest you should take. How stressed out you much be. And if you have a little bit of a martyrdom complex, you grin at them then and say "thanks, but everything is fine, just fine. really."

Because the truth is, while most people are glad to tell you how very much help you need, very few (at least of the people I know) are actually willing to provide that help. I know quite a few people, and I even have some very close friends, but I cannot think of a single person I would call to say, "Look, the cleaning lady flaked, and I need some help. Can you come over and fold my laundry so I can take a bath and read a book like I planned to tonight?" For one thing, I would be too sheepish to ask because I want everyone to know that I can Handle My Life. For another thing, I probably don't believe that I really deserve to relax in a bath when there's laundry to be done (ok, ok, I'm working on that "what I deserve" stuff. please don't get on my case on about that.).

But even if I got over those other little neuroses, I actually think lots of people would just say no. Or say yes and then not follow through. Or just laugh, like the friend who I asked to come over and clean my bathroom when Eli was a baby, or the neighbor who I asked to scrap the frosty windows of my car one cold morning a couple of weeks ago.

Is it because we live in the Western US, home of the rugged individual? Is it because we're from the Land of the Protestant Work Ethic and are therefore too proud to ask for help? Is it being in a big city? Is it other people, or is it us? Do we not have the knack of asking, or do other people not have the knack of offering?

How do YOU get help when you need it? When and how do you offer to help someone else? Let me know. Maybe this is something I could actually LEARN.

In re-reading this post, I must add: There is just a small possibility that the reason that I'm not a big fan of folding laundry is that it provides way too much time to think. Just a small possibility.

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