To say that I hate asking for help is an understatement of massive proportions. I hate, loathe, and despise it. In my experience, help rarely comes free. It comes with commentary, unsolicited advice, and expectations.
But I am one person. Although I am a strong, creative, resourceful, and capable person, I am still only one. There are some things in life that we weren’t meant to do alone. Like parenting. Or moving. Or single-handedly assembling a bunk bed.
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I stared at the two beds. I had kept them separate before because both kids were afraid of sleeping on the top bunk. They were older now, and we needed the floor space. I had a small window of time to get everything done without children underfoot. Dragging, pushing, and shoving them, I managed to get them to the spot on the floor that would accommodate a bunk bed.
F**K my life!
That’s all I could think as I tried to fit one bunk bed on top of the other. Every single lift and shift caused one bed to get caught on the other. This was a two-person job, and I was one person cursing and struggling to get the beds to align without help.
If I could figure out how to do it myself, I wouldn’t have to ask for anyone else to lend a hand. I wouldn’t have to wait for anyone. I could do it on my own without commentary, advice, or expectations. Then, I could do all the other things I needed to do in the brief window of time before my children returned from their dad’s.
But every lift and shift of the beds resulted in a stream of cursing and the top half getting stuck on the bottom. At one point, I nearly crushed my hand — the thing I need most in the world for my job other than my brain. It’s a wonder I didn’t find a way to crush that, too. This was a job for two, and I am one human on my own.
Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing wrong with living by ourselves. Each morning finds me sprawled across a king-size bed wrapped cosily in all the blankets and a multitude of pillows. I wake up and set the tone for my day, shaping a beautiful life for me and my children. I’m happy.
But on the hard days, on the days I could really use a break or another hand to help with a task that stretches beyond my impressive capabilities, I’m struck by how hard life can be on single people trying to function in a world where many tasks require four hands rather than two.
As a single mother, I’m always a little impressed at the audacity of the cosily coupled who like to hand out suggestion after suggestion for life lived alone. Parenting ideas are in abundance, but the elephant in the room that I can see clearly and they can’t is that it’s not the same for those of us doing it alone. It will never be the same.