I’ve got this. Don’t worry. I’ve totally got this. I’ll brave anything this day throws at me. Just so long as I don’t have to ask anyone for help.
I know it’s wrong. I know I need to let people in. But I’m so much more comfortable helping other people with their problems than asking them to solve mine. I know I’m too proud. I try to ask for help but words stick in my throat. And texting for help is no better. How do I convey tone of voice? If I write ‘please’, it sounds strangely demanding. If I write ‘thank you’, it’s like I’m not giving them a choice: I’m just assuming they’ll say ‘yes’. If I write neither, it’s like I have no manners at all. And don’t get me started on emojis! The amount of time I’ve spent squinting at little yellow circles, searching for a single image that will convey ‘I am your easygoing friend, but I’m not a try-hard. Thank you for helping me - not that I’m assuming that you will. You’re free to make your own choices. Thank you for listening. Upside down smiley face. Dancing tango lady.’
I need to admit that I am not Superwoman - heck, I’m not even Halfway-Capable Woman most days (you know Halfway-Capable Woman: she’s the one with a half-length cape, a half-bob and a stylised ‘0.5’ emblazoned across her chest). But I feel like I ought to be.
It doesn’t help that my TV is brimming with domestic goddesses; ever-smiling athletic-types whose kitchen floors are always 99.9% free of dirt and germs, who never let a headache slow them down and whose loos only ever say nice things about them. If motherhood is a race, sometimes I feel like I’m coming dead last.
I think a reason communities have broken down is that we’ve stopped relying on each other. I’ve never visited my neighbour to borrow a cup of sugar. I’m too scared she might report me to the Mummy-Police for using refined carbohydrates in my cooking. Instead, I labour away to bake whole-wheat, gluten-free muffins for lunch boxes, flavoured only with organic honey, pear purée, and my own virtuous sense of accomplishment. After all, if I asked for help, that would almost be like admitting that I’m not coping. Not coping! If cleaning-product commercials have taught me anything, it’s that today’s mother needs to have it all together at all times. ‘Not coping’ is not allowed. And being a stay-at-home-mum makes it worse. I have no excuse. Surely ‘coping’ domestically is my profession? I suggest this to my friend, who is a working mother and she scoffs at me.
‘No way! Working mothers are supposed to “cope”. If something goes wrong at home, it’s because we’ve been so selfish by having a career. If something goes wrong at work, it’s because we’ve been so selfish having kids. Asking for help is never an option!’
I think I need to be more humble. Perhaps if I let go of my pride just enough to admit that I’m not perfect, I might give others permission to do the same. Then we might let our guards down just a little, and allow ourselves to be helped by each other. And then we could form a whole Justice League of Halfway Capable Women, visiting each other’s headquarters for coffee and conversation and cups full to the brim with refined carbohydrates.
I’m going to do it, I really am.
Just as soon as I find the right emoji.