<extract from an e-mail I received yesterday>
I really appreciate your time for editing my paper,.. (more stuff about paper…)
I am so sorry that both Golden Boy and Princess are ill… :-/,I wish I had time to help you …
What? What did you say? You wish you had time to help me? How sweet of you, sweetheart, but… I hadn’t asked for your help! Gentle Reader, I swear to you, I had only sent back her paper, which I had edited for her, as she had requested. True, I mentioned the kids were ill, in the following sentence:
You can call me any time you like tomorrow if you want to talk more about it, I’m staying at home all day with the kids, who are both ill :(((
Thus- you can see I only mentioned the illness of the kids in the context of explaining why I was at home and could give her MORE help with her stupid paper, if she needed it.
Overreaction? Maybe. Sometimes I feel the more I offer help to people: the more I edit their dreadful assignments, the more I give them lifts, the more I invite them for dinner, basically the more I go out of my way to prove that I am a strong independent woman who has NO PROBLEM at all working full-time and teaching part-time and running around with two active demanding kids aged 6 and 9… the more people need to assure me they have no time to help me. Believe me, the e-mail above was simply a concrete, recent example of what I’ve been hearing again and again over the past few years: wow- you are a fantastic woman for doing what you are doing, you are amazing, I don’t know how you can do it, let me know if there is anything I can do for you, I’d love to babysit for you sometime, Oh God I’m so busy, I’m so sorry, I’ve gotta run, see you soon.
I felt abandoned by society- by people- after I had kids… sometimes I felt like running out in the street and asking the first random stranger to come in and keep an eye on them so I could take a shower and have a nap…
And that is an extract from an overheard converation by another single mom at a children’s party last week. It felt good to know that others were in the same boat: taken aback, shocked by people’s absolute unwillingness to help out, regardless of whether the help was even asked for or not.
Dear god. Dear god. Never, ever let me need help from others. Give me the strength and wits to work and earn enough money to pay a couple of decent babysitters whenever I need to go out, let me remain independent. It is my duty, my privilege and my pleasure to care for my children and function as a working adult in society. I don’t need your little help, and I never asked for it, you horrible busy little people, leading out your horrible busy selfish lives.
With apologies to a couple of angels in human form who unstintingly help me and my children out without even waiting for me to ask.