Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sometimes It's Good to Be Helpless

Lately, because of a dream I had, I've been wondering whether, when you are struggling with something, is it better to be partnered with someone who is also struggling?  Or is it better to be partnered with someone who knows what they're doing and can act as a mentor?

I just watched a lovely scene on The Secret Life of Us.  Jason and his partner have just had a baby. Like most new mothers, she's having a difficult time. It's hard for him to be there for support, because he has a job that has him working 14 hours a day.  But then one morning, he arranges things so he can spend a day with the baby. He gives the mother a bit of a break. That in itself is very nice. And she thanks him for it. She also apologizes for her crankiness the night before, explaining that she doesn't know what she's doing. Jason replies that he doesn't really know either. It's hard on both of them.  I really appreciated the way the two of them treated each other in that scene.

Being a new mom was very challenging to me. Before Jack, I had never even held an infant before. I don't think I ever changed a least not successfully. At one time, I remember Tim pushing me not to worry. He did know what he was doing, because he helped take care of his baby brother.  I understand that he was trying to reassure me—get me to see that there was someone capable around to take care of Jack. But that's not what I needed. I needed to know that I had the ability to become a decent mother—that I would learn how to do what needed to be done. Sometimes I think it's easier to gain these feelings of confidence when your partner is as lost as you.

I often have fantasies about our Australian friends coming to visit us. We'll all go to Disney World or Disney Land. But then I wonder if that would actually be a good idea. We've been there so many the point that we could maybe call ourselves Disney experts. So if they went with us, would we end up being too bossy?  Would we not allow them the fun of getting lost, making mistakes, and laughing uncontrollably because they've done something really stupid?  I imagine they might have more fun if they went to Disney World with other Disney newbies.

Well, anyway...the thing I've been thinking today is that sometimes the most helpful thing we can do for someone is be helpless.  It's nice to be equally helpless to someone who is helpless, and even maybe nicer to be MORE helpless than someone. The latter allows the other person to feel needed.

Am I saying we should fake helplessness?  Definitely not. But if we're in a relationship where it seems we're usually more capable than the other person, maybe we should seek out a thing in which they're better than us. Or when we're good at something, spend more energy reassuring the other person that they'll be good at it time.

With that in mind, my Australian friend knows much more about Melbourne than me, and she's MUCH better at cooking than me. So maybe it would be fair if we got to show her and her family around Disney.  We'd TRY not to be too controlling.