Swaddled in a fuzzy, light blue blanket, the baby finally stopped shrieking. His mommy’s demeanor shifted from frenzied to relieved. I asked her if she needed help; traveling alone with a little person who wholly depends on the adult is overwhelming. She nodded and exhaled as I grabbed the stroller and opened it. The young woman’s dark hair covered one cheek, and I glimpsed at her infant’s dimples as he smiled at me.
So I started thinking about giving and receiving. Babies not only give love freely but they also receive (and often demand) nurturing with ease. And I realized how difficult it is for me to receive. When do some of us build a protective fortress around our hearts? We enter the world like soft sponges ready to absorb.
I am extremely uncomfortable asking for and accepting help. Even when dear friends offer, I almost always say, “Thank you but I am fine.” And sometimes I am not ok. I have lived with an “I’ve got this and I can/will handle it solo” attitude for much of my life. It supported what became a familiar and what I deemed “strong” space in which to live.
However, I had to say yes recently. And you know what? It felt good. You know why? I did not ask. I was wrapped, just like that sweet infant, in a blanket of loving “framily.” Some of them spontaneously offered to help. I squeaked out an, “Are you sure? This must be inconvenient. I hate saying yes; this is hard.”
The responses were unwavering and sincere. A weight lifted that I didn’t even know I had been carrying. In some ways, I suppose I held the little girl version of myself instead of allowing others to cradle me.
Even a stranger on the street the other day noticed I was clearly a bit lost. It’s as if the universe has intentionally placed teachers, familiar and unknown, new and old, in my path.
The message is increasingly clear: Girl. Let. Them. In. You won’t be disappointed. You’re not a burden; in fact, one of my dear friends explained it actually helps her to know she can be of assistance.
And that promoted more learning as I had yet another epiphany. I get it! I hate feeling helpless when a dear one is in distress or needs extra support. When I reach out to others and they say “I’ve got it” even when they clearly do not, my insides physically ache.
My heart burgeons with gratitude when another accepts my help. So I suppose saying “yes” to one whose intentions are pure is gift of love to that person. I suddenly saw, and most importantly felt, receiving through a vastly different lens.
I’ve always told my children it feels good to give. And that it is better to give than to get. Perhaps it’s time to expand those teachings and add that it is also a gift to receive from souls who love fiercely as we do.
We can all access, if we choose, our inner infant selves. As we grow older, the support we need changes depending on our stage and situation. One word, SURRENDER, has grown legs and seems to be roaming in my mind.
Babies intuitively surrender to the present. All they know is now. Whether it’s hunger, exhaustion, or overstimulation, they know precisely what they need. They ask for help without words. And their tiny yet wise hearts receive willingly and readily. Perhaps we ought to as well.