Proving Myself

I visit teach a lady who lives down the street from me. She had a baby earlier this year and I get lots of last minute calls asking if I could watch the baby for a few minutes or so while she runs a quick errand.

I honestly don’t mind watching her baby for her.  Very rarely does it take longer than a half hour, and I’m practically never doing anything so important that it can’t wait that long. No it isn’t fun, but I understand how much of a relief it can be to know that you don’t *always* have to drag the baby along to the post office, or the car dealership,  or the doctor, or or or.

Like many new mothers she’s wracked with guilt and doubt, and repeatedly apologizes for asking me to babysit. One day while trying to soothe her I found myself saying “It really doesn’t bother me.  If it ever is a problem I promise I’ll say ‘no’.”

That’s why the last time she called asking me to watch the baby in a few hours I said ‘no.’ My kitchen sink was leaking (which meant I’d have to do dishes in the bathtub (which meant I hadn’t done dishes since it started leaking (which meant the kitchen was an absolute nightmare))) and the landlords were missing in action, the kids were at school but it was only a half day, I was supposed to have a church meeting with a friend later that day, and I had a billion other things I had planned on getting done while the kids were school. On that day watching the baby would have been a problem.

It was harder than I’d expected to turn her down. She had a doctors appointment, and would need to reschedule it. I could hear her baby crying in background while she was on the phone with me, and I could remember feeling the same way she must have felt.

But I had to be honest with myself and with her. If she was going to believe me when I said “I don’t mind!” Then she had to know that I would be honest with her and tell her when I did mind.

I still feel bad that she had to reschedule her doctors appointment, but I think it was good for our friendship. I think there’s more trust between us than there was before. Funny how honesty can do that for a relationship.

Starfoxy

Starfoxy is a fulltime caretaker for her two children.

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10 Responses

  1. Ziff says:

    Great point, Starfoxy. I guess I’ve thought about proving myself serious in being willing to help when I offer by following through. I hadn’t thought about this question of proving yourself serious when you say you’ll say no if it’s not going to work by actually following through. In both cases, it’s showing something that might just be something we say as a social convention to actually be seriously meant. I like it.

    Also, I think it’s great you watch her baby for her so many times so she doesn’t have to take the baby to everything. That must make her life so much easier!

  2. EmilyCC says:

    This is an excellent point…I’m more likely to ask a favor of a friend who I’m sure is being candid with me, which usually means that she has turned me down in the past. And, I’ve worked hard over the years to be able to do the same (but it’s still difficult).

    I find I can usually tell with my non-member friends and most converts, but those of us who were born and bred in that Mormon-niceness culture of saying yes no matter what (and grumbling later–or is that just my family? :)), I have a harder time reading.

    • Jessawhy says:

      This comment makes me laugh because I think of all the people I know you have the most Mormon-bred niceness 🙂

      But, I do think you tell me what works and doesn’t work for you. So, I guess that’s the best of both worlds, niceness and honesty.

      Starfoxy, I love this post. I think it should be mandatory reading before being admitted to Reliefe Society.

  3. Diane says:

    I agree one should be able to tell a true friend no with out worrying about it ending a friendship or any other relationship with that person.

    However, I don’t think saying no is any harder because one is Mormon or not, nor do I believe its any less hard if you have members of your family who go back to the handcarts. I think this is a byproduct of women in general. Women by nature tend to want to please people at their own expense and will say “yes” to things that they really want to say “no” to because this is how we are brought up.”

  4. Way to stand up for yourself.

  5. Corrina says:

    This post is very timely for myself…I’ve been RS pres in my ward for the past 2 years. We have a pretty needy ward, but luckily a lot of people who are also willing to help wherever possible. Anyway, I’ve come to the end of my rope w/ the calling–I like it most of the time and love the sisters, but realize that I’m at a point in my life where I just need to focus on *me* for a bit (the time commitment and stress are wearing me thin). Just today, I asked my Bish to find my replacement in the next 4-6 weeks.

    I feel guilt that I am not able to “stick it out” longer, especially when I see how much my Bishop sacrifices himself for our ward. But at the same time I am proud of myself for setting up personal boundaries and knowing that I need to take care of me, too, and that’s okay.

    I’ve been struggling a lot with understanding the covenants we make in the temple and how that relates to our personal life and church service and how much of ourselves we should really sacrifice for the church. My personal well-being is what I’m putting first, right now, and I wish I didn’t feel guilt for that.

    I think the OP’s strategy for being upfront, and honest with this sister is fantastic. I have been frustrated a lot in this calling when people who don’t have emergencies expect other members to drop everything on a dime, when a little planning in advance would’ve made all the difference. Way to go, Starfoxy, for being loving yet straight forward and honest! Just today I had a sister (who just moved into our ward) call me and say she needed sisters to come and pack up her house. When I told her, no, we can’t do that (unless it was an emergency, which in this case it was not), and this sister said she would work something out (which promotes self reliance, right?).

  6. Fran says:

    I can’t relate. I mean, I think it’s great that you’re being honest, and that aspect I can relate to, and I appreciate. I just don’t get the constant babysitter need. Is it convenient? Oh sure. But I think when you choose to have a child, you need to be aware of the responsibility it takes, and not always rely on someone helping you out to make it more convenient.

    I mean, what kind of doctor’s appointment did she have that she had to reschedule? I’m sure there are some complicated ones that really warrant not bringing kids, but then plan ahead accordingly, and don’t make it a last-minute thing. I’ve dragged my 2 kids (3 and 1) to all kinds of doctor’s appointments, including OB/Gyn visits where I got an IUD placed, or blood drawn, or all kinds of stuff – some of them taking quite a while. Is it fun? Nope. But I figure it’s not someone else’s job to watch my kids while I’m taking care of “normal life stuff”.

    I guess I’m lacking the compassion here, but I don’t quite get your visiting teachee…

    • Starfoxy says:

      Fran- I didn’t mention it in the post, but my visiting-teachee is dealing with some rather heavy ppd. Also she and her baby both have some minor physical disabilities that make getting around more of a hassle than is normal.
      That and we live in Phoenix where we’ve been experiencing some record highs lately- sometimes the heat in my car is so oppressive it feels like I can barely breathe. Heat like that can be rather dangerous for babies who aren’t as capable of regulating their body temperature as adults.
      Though I will agree that most of the calls don’t need to be last minute things, and that is something she’s committed to being better about.

      • X2 Dora says:

        Starfoxy, I really like this post. It brings to mind Polonius’ few words of wisdom. Namely, “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any (wo)man.” I always teach the new nurses I train that the first rule of patient is not to become a patient. On the surface, the admonition to take care of #1 seems selfish; but the caretaker needs to make sure that their needs are tended to, before they can successfully take care of anyone else. By making sure that you attend to your own needs first, you are ensuring that you will be able to attend to the needs of your family. When those obligations are fulfilled, then it’s appropriate to fill your time with helping others. When you serve your needs, then you will be in a position to truly serve others.”

        Now that you’ve clarified some of the special circumstances regarding the last-minute nature, understand a little better. Personally, I dislike having to do things last minute, because I always feel as if I’m doing a substandard job when I’m rushed.

        I remember hearing a radio show about how the secret service needs a certain amount of white space between crowds and the protected person, in order to carefully survey and spot potential dangers. Well, I find that I need a certain amount of white space in order to make sure that life flows well. A half hour here or there to look at upcoming events, and what I need to do to prepare. Shopping for a dinner party, looking up articles to read for a paper, packing lists for an upcoming trip, laundry so that I have clean scrubs to wear to work, a full tank of gas for day of crosstown errands. Little things that snag at the fabric of every day life, that can be prevented by a bit of preparation.

      • Fran says:

        Glad you mentioned that. I do think we should be willing to help whenever we can regardless of how necessary it really may be. So, it’s all good. But I also know some women who turn very, urm, needy for the smallest thing and sometimes I find that a bit inconsiderate for others. I’d just personally prefer to call on someone’s help when I really feel like I cannot do it on my own.

        But health, heat, and post-partum depression are definitely all pretty good reasons to seek support and help. Glad you can help her.

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