I fancy myself an independent person. Here’s an example: when I lived alone and wanted to move furniture, instead of waiting for a friend to drop by, I’d huff-and-puff and inch that completely-full dresser across the room corner by corner until it was placed just right. Some people might call this stubborn, but I prefer to think of it as a get-it-done attitude.
There’s nothing quite like being pregnant with twins to change this. Some things I’ve recently asked for help with: carrying a basket of laundry up a half-flight of stairs, help getting up off of a low sofa, undoing my bra. This morning I considered asking for help to put my socks on, but I powered through.
I’m a lucky person, and my husband has been obliging any and all of these requests. Being that I like to consider us equals, I’ve always balked at the idea of chivalry. I’ll get the door for myself, thank you. However, since I’ve been pregnant I’ve learned that chivalry has its place, after all. I get dropped off at the entrance to a store before we park. I haven’t shoveled a single flake of snow this winter. Someone (other than me) is worried about if I’ve had enough to eat. I’m lucky to have this kind of help, and I certainly shouldn’t deny it or take it for granted.
It strikes me that the changes in pregnant bodies must have a broader social function. This is why the babies don’t grow on our backs like a neatly stuffed backpack and instead grow in our wombs, a highly inconvenient location in our bodies, when you come to think of it. This location makes it virtually impossible to bend at the waist, to tie our own shoes, or walk without a distinctive waddle. We are being taught by Mother Nature to re-imagine how we exist in the world, to give up some of our vanity, and to ask for help when we need it.
Learning to ask for help is hard for a lot of women as we find our way in this modern world. This newfangled reality that tells us to be independent, strong and a host of other things as well; leaning-in career women, super moms, health-focused gourmet chefs, hard-bodied supermodels. We’re trying so hard to be all of these things (or at least two or three of these things) and I’m sure there are people out there who succeed. But if there’s one thing I know for sure, they don’t succeed without help. If it’s not your partner helping, it’s your mother or sister or friend, it’s your employer making accommodations. It’s the nanny, or the meal delivery service, it’s the neighbour, or it’s the mompreneur you purchase home-baked cupcakes from. It’s the grocery store offering you that special parking spot with the stork on the sign, right up close to the entrance.
Don’t tell me if this help dries up when the kids are a bit older; if it does, I don’t want to know just yet. I’d like to keep existing in this new mindset where I give up my stubborn independence and recognize that help is offered for good reason. Moving a heavy dresser across a room on your own is hard, and it doesn’t have to be.