I grew up in a household where we all managed to survive our adolescence without any teenage pregnancies. My brother left at 18 to join the military and I left at the same age to go off to college. I had one friend who was a teen mom. She lived with her mother and consequently, her mother bore most of the weight when it came to actually raising her child. Her mother and us. We would babysit, take turns holding her son, and feeding him when she needed some downtime. I also watch this friend berate her mother when her mom would say NO to watching her son. Being sixteen, I did not understand how selfish my friend was for this. She wanted to go and her mom was not doing anything. Why wouldn’t she just watch her grandchild?
Grandparents are supposed to want to babysit and watch our children. They love them, care for them, and they are supposed to want to help you.
This was my mindset at sixteen. And a part of me took pride in graduating high school and making it through college not having to depend on my parents to take on this task. I told myself, when I became a parent, my husband and I would have sole responsibility for raising our child. Thankfully, all these years later, I can still say this is true. Even still, during the three years that my daughter has been on this Earth, I have gained a deeper respect for the notion: It Takes A Village To Raise A Child.
We Need Our Families
When I speak of families, I mean blood and extended. In reality, none of us really do it all on our own. All parents have friends who babysit, we take our children to daycare, and grandparents help on the weekends. There are many people who assist us in taking care of our children. Because we are the primary parents though, we can take it for granted when others help us. We start to feel entitled to this help and somehow make our choice to become parents the weight on someone else’s shoulders.
Photo: My Auntie Carolyn and her Grandchildren
We are no longer polite to the childcare providers- ‘of course she better take care of my child. It’s her job.’
We no longer respect our parent’s schedules- ‘of course her grandmother does not mind watching her overnight. It is her grandchild.’
We no longer see that our friends have their own bag to carry- ‘of course she will help me. She sees how hard I am working by myself.’
This blind eye that we turn to those around us on account of our own responsibility has to stop. We need our families. We need this help. And no matter how hard it is to see, no one has to help you.
No Does Not Mean I Don’t Love You
No means No. That is it. It means that I am tired. It means that I want to rest. It means exactly that. If you find yourself questioning the validity of a family member’s care for you based on the one time they tell you no at your request for help, it is time to hold up the mirror. Do not find yourself to be the social media disgruntled person. We all know them. They are the people who surround themselves with the same group of people and as soon as they are not getting their way, we see posts like this:
“I guess I can only depend on myself.”
“I can’t depend on others to do for me the way that I do for them”
“Forget everybody. All I got is me”
Newsflash: Yes you are right. All you do have is yourself. Everything else is a blessing.
Here’s the thing, we are responsible for every decision and action we make in this world. If you are a person who is constantly finding themselves on the bad side of the card, then maybe it is time to reshuffle your mental deck. Release the entitlement mindset. Appreciate when someone offers you a helping hand. And most of all, be grateful.
Take The Time To Say Thank You
How often do you say thank you in your mind but the words never actually leave your mouth? It is the same process as saying sorry. Sometimes we say thank you or apologize to our loved ones in our minds but fail to tell the person how we feel. A thank you goes a long way. A sincere thank you will increase your chances for help again and can make a person feel appreciated. Never forget how much of an impact your words can cause.
Photo: My Mother & Her Grandchildren
Return The Favor
Take a look at your relationships with others. Are they balanced? Do you find yourself in a place of asking for help more than participating in the partnership? Are you angered when you do not get the desired result from a person and it causes you to withdraw from that relationship until your anger has subsided?
Ask your family, “Am I being needy?”
The answer could be a tough pill to swallow but necessary to hear. A needy person never realizes that they are needy. They just live with the idea that everyone else is selfish and they are the ones who are constantly helping others. It is a hard delusion to break. If you find yourself wondering where you fall, start finding ways to return the favor to those that help you. It does not have to be much. Offer to treat them to dinner, give a listening ear in a time of need or surprise them with money next time they offer to help you. Always ask yourself, “when is the last time I have done something nice for this person who is helping me with my heavy load?”
Appreciate Your Family
This task can be more mental than physical. Release all anger associated with not being helped and getting your way. Hold up the mirror and see yourself and understand this fact: No matter who is behind you, the load is still yours to carry. Do not see your load as a burden but find ways to make it easier and try not to pass it on so much to others. Realize that every helping moment is one to be thankful for and when those helping moments are far and few in between, others simply cannot do it. That is ok. Never get so wrapped up in your own world that you forget that your family has their own responsibilities to attend to . Appreciate them. Love them. Cherish them.
Editor’s Note: Black Moms Blog is currently accepting letters for publishing. We are looking for heartfelt letters written from daughter to mother or from mother to child. We want thank you letters, angry, insight, advice, and love you letters. The submission deadline is February 28th. Please email all submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.