I was chuckling the other day, watching my son angrily snap, "I can do it BY MYSELF!" Chip off the old block, that boy. Just like me. I have always been independent, and proud of it. I was always loathe to have others help me or do for me - just part of my personality, I guess.
Another part of my personality dictates that I always extend help but never ask for help, not from anyone. I have survived divorce, layoffs, unemployment, financial devastation, and have never really asked anyone for anything, not even an ear or shoulder. I have always donated time, money, clothing, food and anything else that I could gather for "the needy", those weak people that require assistance. Up to now, I have considered that particular feat a triumph and a source of pride. Stupid pride.
In the grocery store yesterday, my daughter and I were making our way up and down the aisles when she spotted a school friend. "LeAnne!" my daughter squealed, and the two girls happily chatted while I smiled and nodded to LeAnne's mother. LeAnne was beaming when she told her mother "This is my friend from class, and I help her get ready for the bus!" My daughter was equally happy, telling me "LeAnne helps me zip my coat and backpack and walks with me to the bus!"
There was something on LeAnne's face that I recognized immediately - pride from helping others. I am very familiar with that half of the equation. The warm feeling that you get when you help someone.
The look on my daughter's face I didn't really recognize at all. She displayed the face of a thankful recipient. It dawned on me that she didn't seem embarassed or angry at needing her friend's help as I would have been. At the tender age of 10, my daughter has accepted her disability with grace, and she rewards those that offer their assistance to her with a smile that lights up a room.
I started to wonder . . . how many times have I refused help from others when I really needed it? How many times has my pride short-circuited the chance for me to feel the gift of someone's unselfish efforts, or their chance to feel that they helped another? How many times have I wallowed in martyrdom, doing everything alone, when the people that I had angrily pushed away watched my struggle?
Another side benefit of my daughter's enlightenment - she is unfailingly accepting of other's weaknesses. Because she needs help from other people, she just naturally assumes that others need help as well. She is patient beyond belief, forgiving, hopeful, and never fails to see the best in other people. She is the first to approach a new person with an open smile and a belief that she will be accepted, and she always is.
People love her in large part because she is sweet, but also because with her, they feel needed, appreciated and accepted. It has dawned on me, this last day of 2005, that I make people in my "real" life feel that I don't need their help or support. I intend to try to rectify that this year, if I can.
I knew I would have a lot to learn to take care of my daughter, I just didn't realize so much of the learning would be about ME.
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