Thursday, July 23, 2009

Summer: 40 some days (Necessity is the mother of relationships)

Slowing checking off my summer bucket list.

Today was tie dye, peaches and strawberries, picnic dinner at Descanso Gardens (with live music) and back home for root beer floats.

Kate has also been working on a bright green sun dress at a sewing class all week and Will has been sweating to death with his cousin Ty at baseball camp from 1-5. Even though he complains about the heat, I'm sure he's enjoying it because he wants to play catch with me in the backyard every waking minute. I rotate ten throws to him and ten throws of the frisbee to Elizabeth. (No one wants to be left out!) The baby is lucky she hasn't been hit in the head with either yet.

Elizabeth has been having fun in the "clubhouse" she made in her bottom bunk by hanging her quilt over the side of the top bunk. She has about 15 board games, 20 books and a bunch of plastic jewelry all crammed in there with her already overflowing stash of stuffed animals. I made a horrible racket tonight when I climbed into bed with her for her nightly snuggle.

Tonight at Descanso Gardens I was able to do one of my favorite things.

I made a really yummy chinese chicken salad for our dinner and had all the bowls, napkins, drinks and everything packed so nice and compact, but as soon as we walked through the gates I realized I had forgotten eating utensils!! I went over to the cafe but it was closed for the night, so I lamely looked in the gift shop to see if they had anything. (Did I really think I would find a package of plastic forks next to the lavendar sugar and dragonfly tea cups??) That's when I did something that never fails to embarrass and then reluctantly impress my husband: I got what I needed by asking for help.

Not only do I not have qualms about asking for directions, help, favors, or things to borrow, I especially enjoy making requests of complete strangers. In fact, we met some of our very dearest friends because (despite my husband's protests) I randomly knocked on their door to see if I could borrow some computer paper. I have a new saying as of five minutes ago: necessity is the mother of all relationships. It's my little experiment with humanity and the results rarely fail me: people like to be helpful! People like to feel someone needs them and that they can deliver! And when people help other people they are naturally drawn to each other while simultaneously feeling good about themself. What could be better than that?

One of the best reactions I ever got from my experiment was just last year at a gas station. I needed to fill my tires with air and I remember having a question about the little air pressure gauge thingy but there were no service people around. I looked over and saw a very nicely dressed, stuffy-looking older man putting gas in his very expensive looking car. (Brandon would roll his eyes at this point because I wouldn't know what kind of car it actually was.) I caught him totally off guard when I asked him about the air pressure gauge thingy. I wish I could adequately describe his reaction. He almost leapt to my aid! He seemed so genuinely excited to be able to help and by the end of our exchange, my simple plea for help had him quite convinced he was not only helpful, but in fact a very good person. I love it! By simply asking someone for the help I really need I help them to feel they are a good and decent human being. Isn't that fun?

So the lady in the gift shop at Descanco Gardens really wanted to help me and went completely out of her way by going over to the break room and rummaging through all the drawers until she came up with four forks and a spoon. Perfect! I got what I needed, she felt good about herself and we both had a nice, happy interaction with a stranger leading us to feel the world wasn't such a bad place after all. The world needs more of this.

The application of this to motherhood is an easy one. As mothers, we often get in the habit of doing it all: all the housework, all the cooking, all the laundry - you name it. But as children get older if we continue to do everything for them we not only deprive them of the opportunity to feel capable, good, and helpful, but we also deprive ourselves of the relationship building that comes from asking for and receiving help.

A little warning here. There are different ways to ask for help. "Get in here and clean your room this instant!" is not what you're going for. Neither is the super sweet, slightly guilt trippy, "Okay, isn't anyone going to help mommy clean up the living room?" What I'm talking about is a genuine request for age appropriate help that can be filled by one of your children. I find when I ask them as I would ask another adult and they can sense that I really would benefit from their specific assistance, they actually move pretty quickly. Not only do I get much needed help, they feel good about themselves and our relationship is improved. Win, win, triple win.

So the next time you find yourself in a serious bind and need an extra set of hands, go ahead and ask one of your kids to help you out. No demanding, no guilt tripping, no nagging. Just ask and wait to be pleasantly surprised. Necessity really is the mother of all relationships.


  1. Ditto on the whole asking strangers for help thing! Maybe it's the returned missionary in you? Your blog is fun and inspirational to read; in fact, if I didn't know you, it could be intimidating. Your summer bucket list almost sounds like a homeschooler's lifestyle bucket list. So ambitious, my dear! One of these days I'll get a blog up and running and call it family history so I won't feel any guilt about catching up with it on Sunday...

  2. Fortunately for us, men are never lost. Asking for directions is as necessary for us as is talking about our feelings.

    And we enjoy eating like animals, so seeking out utensils from strangers would only deprive us of a cherished oppurtunity to employ our hands in the way God intended.


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