Paying For Help
As someone living with pretty severe rheumatoid arthritis (who is also the mother of two small, highly-energetic children) I think perhaps the piece of advice I get most often is this: ask for help – and accept it.
I am lucky to have loving family members and friends who regularly offer me help. But, silly as it may sound, it has actually been a rather long process for me to learn to accept this help without guilt. I spent a long, long time feeling awkward, scared to admit my weaknesses, and incompetent for not being able to take care of everything myself. It took me quite a while to realize that there can actually be strength in asking for – and accepting – help from others.
But that’s really a story for another time. Right now I want to talk about the times when I need more help than my family and friends can reasonably provide. And I want to talk about people who may not have anyone they feel they can ask for help. That’s where paying for help can come into play. This may sound completely crazy, but I would honestly rank the decision to pay for help as one of the top five things I’ve done to improve the way I live my life.
When we first looked at our budget to see if we could consider paying for some help, we didn’t think we would be able to afford it. We ambitiously bought a house at the far end of our budget, and some months we struggle to pay the mortgage. We try to eat local and organic when we can, which puts an extra burden on our food budget. We heat our house in the winter and cool it in the summer, because it reduces my pain to avoid temperature extremes. Despite having pretty good health insurance, my medical bills are almost always through the roof. And, perhaps most importantly: children are expensive! No matter how many coupons I clip or consignment sales I visit, there’s no getting around that fact! My three-year-old’s preschool tuition rivals that of some colleges!
But, despite all those expenses, we still find a way to pay for a team of cleaners to visit our home every month. And let me tell you: it is worth every penny.
The team scrubs our toilets and showers – that way I can save time on my hands and knees for playing with my kids.
They vacuum cheerios and dog hair – so instead of getting tired pushing a vacuum around the house, I can get tired pushing a double stroller through the zoo.
They scrub our stove top, sink, and inside of the microwave – that way I can save my finger-strength for doing arts and crafts with my kids.
They help me make sure my family is never living in complete squalor – and the stress this removes from me, both physically and mentally, is enormous.
It does still feel weird to pay for help. Sometimes I worry about how we can continue to afford it. Sometimes I feel like a “good mother” would be able to do all of this herself (especially on days where I make the mistake of looking for craft ideas on Pinterest!) But you know what? That’s nonsense! Everyone deserves a little help – even if you have to pay for it. And, as someone living with very limited energy, I know that you can’t really put a price on being able to spend your energy where it really matters.
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