When my wife and I first became parents a decade ago, it was particularly exciting for our families because our daughter, Chloë (pictured below, meeting my mother for the first time), represented the first grandchild on both sides.
Everybody was very excited about the next generation of our family and wanted to spend as much time with her as possible.
And this worked out very well for us, as parents. Because while we were (and continue to be) madly in love with our baby girl, being a new parent is difficult. Really, really difficult.
When my wife and I needed some time for ourselves, there were two ways I could have asked our family for help.
First, I could have said something like this:
"Mom! Holy moly* this parenting thing is REALLY HARD! I'm sorry for every shrill cry I screamed, every sleepless night I caused you, and every rotten thing I ever did as a kid! Can you please, please, PLEASE come over and watch Chloë for just a few hours so Meredith and I can try to regain some shred of our sanity?!?"
But instead, I chose a different approach:
"Hi, Mom. Meredith and I thought it would be nice for us to head out, just the two of us, on Saturday night for dinner. I was going to send out an email to everybody and ask who would be available to babysit, but since you mentioned you'd love to spend more time with Chloë, I thought I'd ask you first..."
My mother couldn't scream"YES, I'LL DO IT!" fast enough or loud enough.
The first way of asking was a desperate plea for my mother's help.
The second way of asking was a generous offer of a first-right-of-refusal for the pleasure of spending some time cuddling with our newborn baby.
See the difference?
To be clear, my mother was going to say yes no matter how I presented this particular offer, and she knows me well enough to know that my positioning of this ask was just my way of trying to be funny.
This story, while 100% true, is intended to be a light-hearted way of illustrating my point.
But don't let the humour detract from the lesson.
We all have certain advantages. Sometimes, we don't even recognize the advantages we have until we think about our situations and circumstances differently.
Take the time to identify your advantages, then use them appropriately.
* Under the circumstances, I would have almost certainly chosen a different four-letter alternate to "moly".