My two-and-a-half-year-old daughter has been asking for help since the day she was born. She first expressed herself, as babies do, with simple cries that left much to interpretation. Her expressions progressed from “Help!” to “Mama, please could you help me with ___.” While she clearly values doing certain things by herself, she has never been ashamed to ask for help.
After our most recent holiday break, our little household struggled to settle back in to our normal daily routine. My daughter was especially thrown off, and had rollercoaster mood swings. My husband and I despaired as our formerly sunny, giggly girl battled against anything other than eating popsicles and watching Peppa Pig.
So I did something I’d watched her do countless times, something that no longer comes naturally to me. I asked for help. I did my usual internet research (as I’ve confessed before). But I also reached out to parent connections near and far, including some I didn’t know very well. I spoke with a counsellor, an infant development consultant, a childcare coordinator, and our pediatrician. The resounding, overarching opinion: it sounds like she’s a two-year-old, and it can be really hard on everyone.
What surprised me most when I started my help-seeking mission was that many others had gone or were going through this, and no one was talking about it. I felt like we were the only ones until I opened up and asked questions. The experience made me reflect on how I often approach my work with a similar reluctance to ask for help. I’ll usually ask others if I’m absolutely stumped or can’t find what I’m looking for after exhausting the internet. For those of us who edit in home offices, work can be lonely. If you can’t see your peers, it’s easy to forget that they might be in the same boat as you. By connecting with others in our circles and expanding our networks, we often make deep connections even if we don’t get the answer we’re looking for.
Over a month after the holiday break, we’re still working daily on our transition. But I feel armed with more information and some allies to turn to if I need them. I also hope that being vulnerable with others will encourage them to ask me for help if they ever need a hand. Whether it’s at work or in another aspect of life, we all have something to learn from the toddler’s unabashed willingness to ask for support when they need it. I will leave you with a song we’ve been singing around here (sung to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”):
It’s OKAY to Ask for Help
I can do a lot of things myself,
But sometimes I must ask for help.
Whether you’re a grown-up
Or just turned three,
It’s okay to say, “Please help me.”*
*Amadee Ricketts, Gentle Hands and Other Sing-Along Songs for Social-Emotional Learning (Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing, 2018), 8.
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