Sunday Mail Column for Sunday 21 March 2010

I’m tired. Bone-weary. Exhausted. I should be used to moving by now. After all, we’ve done four moves in five years as Brad completes his training with Queensland Health. Ironically the move previous to this one – the move from Townsville to Brisbane in 2009 – was the easiest. Despite the fact it happened when Ava was just seven weeks old.  That’s because as a sleep-deprived, slightly nutty new mother I insisted demanded calmly and rationally suggested we pay for an unpacking service. And so these three Mary Poppins-esque women swept in and worked their magic. By the time they left five hours later our apartment was set up. Beds were made.  Pots and pans put away. Fresh flowers even appeared in a vase. I was so grateful I considered writing them into my will.

This time our budget didn’t stretch to pay for the Mary Poppins Trio.  This time we were on our own, literally, since none of our extended family actually live in Brisbane anymore. This time it was a freaking nightmare since I had underestimated the chaos that one small toddler and one rambunctious dog can cause.  And so the unpacking went f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Actually it’s still going. There’s a box next to me as I type. I don’t even want to know what’s in it. I think I’m going to drape a tablecloth over it and pretend it’s a side table.  See how bad it’s gotten? I’m in cardboard box denial.

But here’s the really stupid bit – I had numerous offers of help. Okay, so my family weren’t around but so many of my closest girlfriends rang and emailed and texted and rang again offering to come over. To mind Ava. To make us a meal. To unpack some boxes. So why didn’t I take them up on it? Why? Because I’m an idiot.

I think sometimes as women we’re really, really, really good at offering help and pretty terrible at accepting it ourselves. Clinical psychologist Dr Clare Rosoman agrees.

“These days women put a lot of pressure on themselves to excel in all areas of their lives: from motherhood to career to paper-machee making. This creates an expectation that they should be able to handle everything and that asking for help indicates weakness or even failure. This is an unhealthy source of internal pressure that is often confirmed and fuelled by media images of perfect women and societal pressures. The more women struggle to cope in silence the more the myth of the perfect-all-coping-woman is perpetuated. Asking for help is the healthiest way of managing stress and the best, most hands-on way to break down the myth of the perfect woman. Every time a woman asks for help she strengthens the relationship with the person reached out to and she present a more realistic, healthy image of how women really are.”

Friends, next time you offer to make me a casserole or babysit – I’ll be accepting. And I’m putting the Mary Poppins Trio on speed-dial.


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About Bec

Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.

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