When I was a little girl, I knew that I wanted to be a mother. Before I desired to be a wife, or a professional, or anything else that I could possibly ever want to be, I knew motherhood was at the height of my desires. When playing house with my cousin, I would always be “mama”. I wasn’t mean or bossy. I prepared dinner (mud pies and water). I swept the floors. I folded laundry. I was a great “mama” in my head.
A lot of the role play I would do would be patterned after my own great-grandmother. That woman could do anything. I mean it. I have yet to meet a woman who could make a meal out of scraps that could last us for days. This woman woke in the cold and dark winters well before the sun rose to make sure that the wood-burning heater in our home would be roaring with warmth before my cousins and I rose for school every morning. She hemmed clothes, made costumes, and even when things and times were hard, she made sure that we were all well taken care of. She was my role model and is still the woman I envision when I try to accomplish the tasks needed for my family. Notice I said “try”.
Recently, I had a moment. It was a no nonsense, tears spilling down my face, come-to Jesus, tell-Him-all-about-my-troubles, hide in my car, sit in the parking lot after work and pray…moment. For several weeks, I’d been trying to do things that way that Mama did them. I tried to get up earlier to make sure that a hot breakfast was on the table for my son. I tried to make sure that the house was clean, that errands were run, that everything was in its place. I was failing miserably. It seemed like no matter what I did or how hard I tried things were not coming together, at least not in the way I wanted. Add to that a husband who, in his blunt honesty, confirmed that I was not stellar in getting things done and I found myself increasingly frustrated, sad, and upset. In this particularly awful moment, I sobbed in my car for twenty minutes because I couldn’t figure out how I was going to get groceries, get home, cook dinner, and make it to a required rehearsal with only 90 minutes in my timeline to do so. That wasn’t a good day.
Still, I didn’t ask for help. I remembered that my great-grandmother never did. It seemed simple to me that I wouldn’t either. I dried my tears, took a breath, and drove to the store grabbing a frozen lasagna meal and garlic bread and rushed home. My family, unaware of my meltdown, didn’t seem enthusiastic that they would be having lasagna for dinner and mentioned their disappointment. It was truly God’s grace that kept my tongue in my mouth and not conjuring aloud the frustrations of the day. I popped the meal in, changed clothes, and managed to wait until it was ready (at the same time rehearsal started), plated the dinner, and laid it on the table, and then I rushed out the door wishing my son a good night and an I love you, leaving with an empty stomach, and arriving at rehearsal 25 minutes after it started. Sigh…I’m not Superwoman, but I didn’t know that at the moment and I still continued to try.
I arrived home after rehearsal about 10 pm and smiled to see that my husband had been kind enough to have a wrapped plate made for me. I peered in the fridge and realized that neither he nor my son’s lunches had been prepared, so I made lunch for them both, cleaned the kitchen afterwards, walked the house once more to ensure everything was secure, peered in my children’s rooms to make sure they were resting well, and then I went to the room to retire.
I kid you not, about five minutes after my head touched the pillow our daughter started crying in her room. Sighing, I got back up, went back downstairs, prepared her bottle, came back upstairs, changed her diaper and tried to give her a bottle. She didn’t want it. She was in her hold me moment, so I took her downstairs with me to watch TV and talk. At 1100, she’d finally take her bottle and was sleepy enough that her eyes seemed loathe to stay open. I carried her back upstairs and put her back in her crib to sleep. The latter two steps of bottle and nap repeated themselves twice more throughout the night.
This schedule repeated itself a more often than not in that week. When Friday arrived, at the end of the workday, I found myself sleep deprived with low morale, being unintentionally terse with my son and husband, and frustrated at how sluggish I felt. I was so looking forward to going home, to letting my head hit the pillow, to (gasp) popping a frozen pizza in the oven, and letting the darkness behind my eyelids consume me in sleep. Just before I shut down my work computer, I received an email from my husband reminding me of an engagement that I’d forgotten about that evening. I sighed, shut the computer down, moped to the car, and there in the car had my breakdown.
It was during that breakdown that I believe God gave me an awesome pep talk. I believe that I was reminded that I am NOT required to be Superwoman. Yes, my great-grandmother could do amazing and wonderful things. She was the epitome of a Proverbs 31 woman, the kind of woman whom I aspire to be. BUT there are some definite differences in our lives. Mama, as I affectionately call my great-grandmother, was a stay-at-home mother surviving off social security and the blessings that God allowed her through life on the farm. I, as much as I would love to be, am not a stay-at-home mother. I work a full-time job and also devote hours to a side business that I have legally registered. I am an entrepreneur. I am also a full time employed professional.
When I was younger, we lived in the “family house” on heir land. The house had long go been paid off and the property taxes were not the concern of children. My husband and I live in a home with a mortgage. Our property taxes are our responsibility. We must work to receive funds to continue to utilize these things.
At my childhood home were gardens with vegetables, trees that bore fruit, sometimes vines that yielded grapes, and Mama was a master at canning and preserving. While things were tight and we didn’t have as much as a lot of people, we had more than enough. In my home today, we are in suburbia. While I would love to have a garden, I simply don’t have the time or skill to make it what my elders did at the family home. I have a grocery store where the food is required to be purchased, not picked and where I must make wise decisions on how much I can buy.
Mama didn’t have a car and sat home all day. She had numerous hours to make amazing meals, keep the home flawless, and to take walks to stay healthy. Our family has a car note, two working adults, and limited hours to make a meal. From the time I come in until the time I lay my head to pillow, I am moving. Cooking, cleaning, homework assistance, feeding baby, rehearsals, meetings for my business, contracts and works for my business. I rarely stop.
But, I feel God reminded me that I am not supposed to be everything to everybody and nothing to myself. That day that I found myself sobbing from not being able to get it all done, I realized that the world would not cease to spin if I didn’t.
I think that what I was experiencing is something that women everywhere experience. Some where we were taught to give everything to everyone else and not take time for ourselves. I love movies and plays. I like a glass of Chardonnay or Moscato with a slice of red velvet cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory© or homemade Red Velvet cake from home and Red Velvet Icecream from Blue Bell. I like massages. I like comedy shows and quiet corners in bookstores. I realize(d) that I have not enjoyed any of the things that I enjoy doing in a very long time.
|Photo credit: twentythirtyenterprise.com|
A Different World
Sometimes I think we as women believe we have to save the world. Our families, communities, friends, neighbors all have to take priority. While the trait and thought is admirable, I believe denying oneself the opportunity for a respite is a dangerous thing. Even Jesus went to pray alone. There should be nothing wrong with my taking a little time just for me to relax, relate, release (thank you Whitley Gilbert J).
So, one day during the following week I came home equally tired and exhausted. I told my husband that I was going upstairs and was going to take a nap. I asked him to please wake me in about 40 minutes to cook dinner, but I had no intention of cleaning anything or starting any new project until after I’d completed my nap and then dinner. He didn’t say a word, but I suspect he knew how exhausted I was. An hour and twenty minutes later I woke up and rushed with a start downstairs upset because I hadn’t been awakened, ready to do catch up to get food on the table as quick as possible, already coming up with quick, filling, nutritious meals that could be prepared in 30 minutes and with the food we had in the house…and I stopped short. My husband had cooked dinner. Our son was doing homework. Our daughter was playing on her activity mat. He’d let me sleep. Our son got up from homework as soon as he saw me and said, “you were really tired, Mommy. So, Daddy wanted you to rest”. My husband, sitting on the couch staring at the TV smiled ever so slightly and I wanted to cry all over again..good tears this time. Best wake-up ever.
I am NOT Superwoman. I doubt I will EVER be Superwoman. But you know what…that’s okay.