Guest Post by Julie Schumacher :: A smart woman I’m related to is fond of saying, “There just aren’t any medals at the end of this.” What’s this? Motherhood. And she’s right. No one gives you a wreath of laurels for the late nights or a gold watch for all the barf. I’ve yet to see a plaque, not preschool made or cheesily punned, for the work we do. Sure, it’s a rewarding gig. Sure, I love my tot to death. And sure, she’s all the thanks I need and her happiness is my main reward.
What my sister was a smart woman getting at was that there’s no glory in saying you do the work we do, all by your lonesome. Especially if you’re also a Founding Mom with a human baby and a business baby you are trying to nurture. No one invites you to accept the Oscar for “endurance solo performance by a mother/business owner.” Sorry to break it to any of you prepping your speech. Rather than feel defeated, what if we all embraced it and realized how empowering it truly is to not do it on our own? There’s freedom in that lack of glory, mamas.
In my first post here, I wrote about the power of saying no. Today, I’m arguing for yes. More yeses, please, all around.
When I talk to my friends whose kids are my kid’s age and whose businesses are like mine, the general vibe is that we’re all doing the best we can at everything. And by everything, I mean we’re doing everything seemingly all the time and all at once. We’re thriving in some places at some time, surviving in others, phoning it in on occasion. The list of jobs and duties and responsibilities (and joys and smiles and heart-expandingness) is a big one.
If we’re playing a ton of roles simultaneously already, why add martyr to the list?
In my community, we’re too quick to martyr it up. We’re constantly offering to help one another but equally quick to demure offers of help, and then apologize profusely and offer ten reasons why this time we need it, but the rest of the time we won’t, but thanks again. And here’s a thank you cake. I’m guilty of it as much as any of us, particularly the gratitude cake part. It’s all very civil and polite and totally unnecessary.
I think we’re doing ourselves a major disservice when we assume we have to do it all on our own, just to be able to say we’re doing it at all. Wait. I don’t have to? Oh, awesome. Instead, I’m going to say yes. And you should too because you are a smart woman.
Rather than thinking you’ll add a gold star to your “I Do It All” chart for refusing help, add a gold start to our collective “It’s Takes A Freaking Village” chart. Let’s populate that chart with many, many stars.
How? Say yes.
If I say I can watch your kids for a couple of hours because of that last minute meeting or because you need a pedicure — Say yes.
If a trusted client asks if you need to reschedule a call and you need to or you can’t bake 18 dozen batches of princess cupcakes on short notice so I offer to help — Say yes.
If your business partner says she can handle the morning after your kid is up for who-knows-why all night or your bed partner says you should head out and see a movie with a girlfriend — Say yes.
Families are scattered. I haven’t lived in the same time zone as my family in seven years. As my mom in 12. A few decades ago I would have had aunts, sisters, kids, advice, help, hot meals, and more close by. But I don’t. So I have two options.
Do everything those people would’ve helped me do + instill ethics/confidence/mad baking skills in my daughter + stay married + run my business + have friends + sometimes shave my legs.
Or, I can say yes.
I can say yes when my husband offers to get up with the kid so I can sleep in on a Sunday.
I can say yes when a great project opportunity comes up because I joined a babysitting coop that is my ace when I need it.
I can say yes to a mom’s night out because I have opted to not live with I-can’t-leave-the-house-without-a-grocery-list guilt as a major piece of my life.
The “I got it, I’m good” thing is a learned condition, as is accepting help. Until I started this whole experiment in creative entrepreneurship and parenting, I would’ve preferred to perform my own appendectomy if it was needed, thank you very much. Or walk to the airport rather than ask for a ride (or accept one offered.) Just as it takes graciousness to accept a compliment or let someone pick up the tab, it takes graciousness to say yes. I’ve learned it and I’m as stubborn and as resistant to help as anyone. I’ve come to learn we create equilibrium in the Founding Moms community, heck maybe even in the universe, when we take and give help.
Try a big ole “Yes, thanks” the next time help is offered. I promise, it’s great. Maybe someday you’ll even be able to ask for help before it’s offered. Maybe.