When the NOLA Gives project began, I was thrilled to be able to give back to our community, to share some joy, even in simple ways, with New Orleans. Little did I know I would find myself on the receiving end of such kindness, and how uncomfortable it would make me.
Hurrying to drop off my son at school, I twisted my ankle stepping off the curb.
Immediately, I dropped to the ground; the pain was so intense I thought I would pass out. I sat on the edge of my van crying, looking at what appeared to be a golf ball growing out of my foot. Another mom walked by, a mom I don’t know aside from exchanging pleasantries nearly every morning. She offered to help me, to call someone for me, or take my son into school. She had a little one in tow herself, but she still went back inside to get my son’s teacher because in all the commotion, he started crying too, and would not go with her into the building. If I saw another mom in a similar situation, I would have done the same thing, but all I could think was how bad I felt for putting her out, and of course, how humiliating it was for anyone to see me in that condition. I am so thankful to her for being so kind and helpful, and I am sure it was no big deal to her, but I still feel bad that she had to do anything for me.
That, however, was only the beginning.
From there, my friend had to come to my rescue. She took me to drop my youngest off at school then to the hospital. Thankfully, my foot wasn’t broken, but it was a “bad sprain” according to the doctor. For days, I could hardly walk. I could not walk into my son’s school to drop him off or pick him up, I could not take care of my house or my family the way I normally would, and I had no choice but to rely on those around me. Over the next few days, I had my friend and or a family member bring my son to school, my neighbor brought over two nights worth of meals so I didn’t have to cook, and my husband took on all the kid/house duties in addition to his full time job. I even had to have someone around to help me get my children out of the car when we would get home from school. I needed more help and more rest than I was comfortable with. Several people offered help, and I turned most of it down. I did not, and still do not, know how to accept help.
If someone needs help, I do all that I can to be there, but when I found myself in a time of need, I would rather push myself than let others help.
And frankly, that was just stupid. Not to mention it meant a longer recovery time.
I am not sure if it is pride, shame, culture or a combination of all those things. In today’s society, we are expected to “do it all” from the moment we give birth. When I found myself not even being able to accomplish simple tasks, it was hard on me. While my husband is amazing and supportive, his job requires him to, you know, be there and stuff. He did all he could to help when he was home, but a large portion of the day I was on my own, and I simply couldn’t accept the help that was offered.
Through this experience, I learned a few things. First off, I have amazing friends. Secondly, my husband doesn’t know where ANYTHING is. Most importantly though, I learned I need to be more of a gracious receiver. Sometimes unforeseen circumstances will hit, whether it be financial troubles, an illness, or an injury, and in those times, I need to remember that it is okay to let others help. They don’t mind. I know it.
During this time of year especially, if someone wants to help you, to show you kindness, don’t be like me. Allow them the privilege of being a giver. Graciously accept what they are offering because if it were any trouble, they wouldn’t offer. Of course, I hope none of you sprain your ankle!