However, the reverse of this is a bit more difficult. I don´t know if it´s our "I-can-do-it-all" culture, or the fact that we cherish our independence above all else. But accepting help, or admitting that I need help, is often really hard.
When I moved to Saltillo eight years ago, I was in desperate need of friends. We don´t have family near, so anyone I could carry on an adult conversation with was a shining ray of light for me. Slowly, but surely, I met people.
Now that I know a number of people, I´ve noticed that it´s easy to fall into superficial relationships. We can talk about living in Mexico, and our kids play together, and that´s all well and good. But I want more. I´ve got a number of very polite friendships.
Sometimes, though, we all need that friend that we know we can call at any time of day or night. That friend who, when we need someone to do us a huge favor, they don´t bat an eye.
Two examples: three years ago we adopted a dog. But we like to leave town on weekends, sometimes for full weeks at a time. Nuts. I should have thought about that before taking in the dog. Before skipping town one time, I asked a friend who I had known for a few months if she minded watching my dog for a few days. (I also knew had a massive yard--very hard to find near cities in Mexico). Having four dogs of her own, she didn´t bat an eye--and even refused payment when I offered.
Man, it´s hard to be in someone´s debt. But sometimes it´s necessary!
So a year or so later when she wanted to start working (only 4 hours a week), she told me how she really wanted to go back to work, but didn´t know what to do with her boys. Since I was already at home every day with Sam, I didn´t think twice about it and offered to watch them.
After that, we were in and out of each other´s houses just about every other day. While the two extra boys for a few hours kept me jumping, it was also so very satisfying. Sharing the mundane details of daily life was a type of friendship that I hadn´t had in awhile. And it would never have happened if either of us weren´t open to accepting help from the other.
Example Two: Right after Sam was born, most of my neighbors told me, "let me know if you need anything!" Since my mother-in-law came to help, and Mario´s cousin was still living with us, we really didn´t have a need to take them up on it--until the day that we went to file Sam´s birth certificate.
In Mexico, parents need to provide two witnesses for a child´s birth certificate. Our plan, of course, was to bring Mario´s mom and cousin. However, the day we went, Clara and Joey were both sick. As Mario had taken the day off of work, he was ready to plow ahead. If the kids were sick, well, let´s just bring them with us! I made a few phone calls, and within twenty minutes, one of my beautiful neighbors was ready to go with us, so Mario´s mom could stay and take care of the sick kids.
With both examples, I can´t explain how much I appreciate having these women in my life, knowing that if I need them, they´re available. There are other people who are certainly on this list, too, but those examples have stuck out in my memory.
While I enjoy showing love to other people by helping them out, these examples are a great reminder that being open to accepting someone´s help is another way of accepting their love. Sometimes it´s hard to love others, but in our culture that celebrates individualism, letting other people into our lives to love us is often harder.
But it´s so worth it!