Years ago, when I worked in Marin at non-profit scholarship organization, there was a young college grad who got a job as an associate in my department. He was full of great ideas and I felt threatened by him. I think I was worried that he was going to take over my job or get more kudos than me. He was smart and because of my fear and insecurity, I found that he and I butted heads a lot.
Eventually, I got over myself and we started to get along. Together, he and I worked hard to implement major program changes, which drastically improved how we awarded scholarships. When he moved on to another job, I actually felt sad and thanked him for his hard work and great ideas. He looked at me and said, “If I see far, it’s because I stand on the shoulders of giants”.
That quote he shared, originally from Isaac Newton, is something I think about often. It reminds me that sometimes in life it takes getting help from others to get anywhere at all. I have been thinking about this a lot lately because over the past few months, my life has presented new and interesting challenges. It has occurred to me just how hard I am working in all life’s departments: personal improvement, marriage, children, and my job. It has felt like nothing is coming easily at the moment and I have spent a lot of time in self-reflection about my choices.
Last week, I ran into a snag at work when a document that my clients had signed wouldn’t print with their signatures on it, even though I could see their signatures on my screen, for the life of me I could not get it to print out for the file. I started to panic and even made the leap in my thinking to wonder whether or not this issue was happening because I had made the wrong move going back to work in the first place. But then I called the help desk and eventually got someone on the line to help me. After downloading some software, my problem was fixed, and my issue completely resolved.
Then my car, after a routine check-up, started having electrical problems. I was that spoiled mini-van driver, who’s automatic sliding doors suddenly stopped working. I had to tug on the doors with great force to get them to open and shut and the kids had to climb in and out of the car through the driver and passenger doors because it took less effort for them to do so. “Great!” I thought, “I just opened escrow on a house and now my car is going to cost thousands of dollars to fix!” But after calling the Toyota Help Desk, I learned that to fixing the problem was still covered under our 100,000-mile warranty and luckily, we were only at 98,500. The car is in the shop as I write this.
I find it so ironic that for someone who grew up never asking for help and never wanting to hear the opinions of others because I always felt criticized, today I have a life-coach (of sorts), two wonderful women who help me run my household and care for my children, two separate parent coaches, a couples therapist, and although I don’t have a person with this official designation, a few people at work who I would consider to be my mentors. I also can’t forget to mention that I believe in God, have great friends, fellows, and many parents in my parenting networks to turn to on a regular basis for support.
Together all of these folk make up my village. Without these people in my life I would have no idea how to ultimately raise my little village of four young girls. These people are the staff of my help desk and I’m so grateful that they have never put me on hold for 30-minutes only to then transfer me to another department to hold some more. No, my help desk is working hard to make sure that I am getting the answers I need to carry on and not run away crying or quit (which is often an impulse I feel like doing when things get hard).
Sometimes I wish I could simply pick up the phone and get a quick answer or have someone tell me what to do. I have flipped directly to the end of the parenting books looking for the quick answers on how to do things better. If only life was that easy.
People can make suggestions, give advice, but ultimately how I parent, how I work, or how I love, is completely up to me. I’m just so grateful to not be alone on this great big planet. Yes, this week, I was reminded about the Giants beneath me and thankfully because of them, I happily look forward to seeing the world.