I have been struggling over the past few years. Somehow things seem to be getting worse, and I'm hoping that they will eventually get better.
I have been working hard asking for help from others. Not just my usual, "hey, when you get a chance would you mind doing..." or "if you can will would you help me with..." These ways are actually me minimizing the importance of my needs.
I am a giver and have always helped others at the drop of a hat, but it has never been easy for ME to ask for help. I knew that one of the reasons I don't ask for help was because I felt it would be very hypocritical. Here I am a "helper" of others, and I need help. That's like the professional organizer's home is a disaster and she is actually a closet hoarder, but she goes into the homes of others and helps get them organized and cleaned up. If I need help then who am I to be the one providing help.
I learned from Brene Brown's work that if I cannot ask for help without self-judgment, then I am actually judging others when I am helping them. This was a slap in the face for me to digest this concept because judging another person goes against my moral and ethical codes. Sadly, she is so right - watch this short clip to see this discussion between Brene and Oprah:
So what do I do when I learn that I've been "doing it wrong?" I work on making changes to become a better person. Remember I really do live my life by only being in competition with myself and no one else so I want to be the best I can be even if that means admitting I've been wrong.
I have now been able to define the box I was living in - judging myself and others in relation to asking for help. With my box defined, I needed to step outside of this box and become better and stronger. Being outside of my box is being outside of my comfort zone but needed.
One might think all that is needed to change is self-awareness and some actions, but change isn't about just me it is about others around me as well. For example, I have been asking for help more than I ever had from the school - teachers, administrators, and so on... I never knew that just asking for help wouldn't be enough. I discovered that others in the world are NOT like me and they do not jump at the chance to help someone in need. I discovered that most people are judging others who ask for help (wow there sure are a lot of people negatively judging themselves too). These were shocking because when I see a person or even an animal in need I run to help, I jump right in and see what I can too, and I genuinely care about making life better for others.
I will not go into all the details, but I can assure you that you would be shocked to learn what happens when I ask (via face-to-face conversations & emails) for some help for my children. It is assumed that people in education are in the profession because they care about children learning but that is not always the case when a parent asks for help (well, at least when I ask for help).
I'll admit these experiences have brought me to my knees many times and I have had many sleepless nights because of the tears and feelings of fear, anxiety, and total even panic! I continue to ask for help the best way I know how but it has been a trying process with more lessons I care to learn. I'll be frank the pain of asking for help for your child makes a parent feel powerless and sometimes hopeless. It hurts to know that I have asked, begged, pleaded, and groveled so far outside my box that I now feel shame.
I don't want to feel shame. I should not be feeling shame about asking for help; I should be feeling proud of myself for going outside the box. I should be proud that I am a parent who is willing to go above and beyond to help her children and most of the time I am but I don't feel this way after I ask for help and receive little to no support. When I ask for help, and nothing changes, I ask for help again a few months later (stronger this time) and then still nothing changes. Now, after many months of throwing myself out there taking risks, pleading for help, and still nothing changed. Well, I'm sure one thing changed - I am more negatively judged by all those I've been asking to help my children and me.
If I were not being judged negatively (and my children) then those I've begged to help us would have actually provided assistance. Things would have changed. My children would be learning exactly what they needed to learn and the teachers would be teaching it to them in a way so they can learn. Administrators would be stepping up to assure that no child is failing, no child is bullied, and no child is excluded but these things have not changed, and the adults in the situations have not performed their job duties. So, I am left wondering why-why ask for help if help will never even be given.
I wonder this every day. I wonder if I should take all the years of documents I have (emails, notes, IEP's, journal entries...) and go ahead an pay the attorney's retainer fee so I can ask for help from the courts. Although I have had meetings with the special ed lawyer over the years, I have never wanted to ask for help from high levels of the educational and legal systems until now. I always believed that schools would just do the right things so there would be no need to go above the school district but now I regret this line of thinking. I've wasted years by asking for help from the school at the school level. So my lesson I have learned here is once help is asked for explicitly and directly and there is no evidence of this help after 9 weeks it is time to move up to high levels to ask for help. I want to help other parents by not making my mistakes because our children really do matter!
All children matter! Know it is okay to ask for help but also know it is okay to ask for help from the Department of Education and the Legal system. There is no shame in not being able to advocate for your children by yourself sometimes you need to ask for help. Stop judging yourself for asking for help! Asking for help does NOT make you a bad parent or your child a bad or lazy child. Asking for help is good, and things are great when the person you ask help from has empathy and really does care, so they actually do help. This can happen but be prepared to go higher up in the chain of command if support is not occurring and don't stop until change really does happen because your children are worth it.