Friday, May 14, 2010
say it isn't so
i've had some disturbing conversations with my mom-friends lately. some i've known for forever; some have only recently made their ways into my world; a couple i know only fleetingly...as in scraps of conversation as we wait for our children at Scouts, church, or the bus stop. all of them have gifted me with their honesty, with their openness, with their wit, and all of them suffer from the very same problem...a chronic feeling of being *lesser*, of lacking some elusive magical quality that other women seem to possess...as though being able to do more, know more, be more would make their lives perfect, their children happy, their marriages work.
lemme tell you. it ain't so.
my neighbor is a mother of two ages 5 & 7. she works 40hrs a week at her day job in another town. then she comes home to prepare three different dinners for her family, help with homework, administer baths, read bedtime stories, tuck babes into beds, then she works on her home business until all accounts are settled. by this time, her husband has come home, so she squeaks in a few minutes of catching up with him. after the rushed *quality* time, she passes out in her bed for a couple of hours (assuming no one needs a 3am glass of water), and wakes up to do it all over again.
on weekends, she plans family outings to amusement parks, to the beach, to workshops where her kids can learn skills with hand tools or art supplies. they regularly make it to church. and her children's birthday parties are extravagant...not to mention the holiday parties she throws for nearly EVERY holiday...or the numerous times she's made sure her neighbors have hot meals, carpools, adult conversation, or just the right eyeshadow for a swanky night out.
yesterday, she confessed that one of her children needs some dental work, that surely if she had taken more time to help the child with teethbrushing, prepared different meals, been home more...it wouldn't have happened. mom-guilt.
a mom i met at the bus stop thinks if she had stayed with her emotionally abusive husband, her daughter would still have a dad. as though a whole, stable, loving mother isn't enough.
another woman is feeling profoundly guilty because her children are *speech-delayed*. nevermind that it's because they are raised in a bi-lingual household and if you factor that in, they are WAY ahead of the language curve.
still another friend is beating herself up because her child has inherited a genetic disorder that will prevent him from living a completely independent adult life.
yet another is twisted up because her child has developed severe gastric problems(not me, i swear!). this mom is torturing herself with the idea that if she had: slept more, eaten different things, not eaten that, weighed less, walked more, rested more during pregnancy...maybe this wouldn't be happening.
i have a girlfriend who was in a horrific car accident 3 years ago. as a result, she is wheelchair bound and is in the throws of a marital break-down. she's currently living as a single mother of a (almost) 3 yr old and a (nearly)5 yr old. she's working in the Church ministering to youth, raising her children without raising her hand, remembering birthdays, and doling out love and acceptance to everyone she meets. she's a shining example of the can-do human spirit, but last week, she actually said to me, "gosh, Anna, i don't know how you do it!"
is it just me, or do you see how completely crazy this is?
i can't speak for my parents' generation, but i am surrounded by women who compare themselves to each other and always find themselves lacking.
and it's horrible to watch. and i am just as guilty.
SAY IT ISN'T SO!!
who says we have to do everything, do it perfectly, do it now?
here's the message i want to give you today:
you are good. you are good enough. you are perfect. you are loved.
you, my friends, were created to live this life and live it well...and you are doing it (see? you're still breathing...you're doing it!!)
God did not create us to do it all by ourselves(trust me on this one...God is not sadistic, does not delight in cruelty). we are here together...doing it together. and where my gifts end, yours are just beginning...and vice versa.
here's what i want you to promise me today:
today, just today(baby steps, people), do not compare yourself to anyone else. do not believe that you could have controlled something that you could have no control over, do not think about all the things you should be/could be doing as you read a book to your toddler for the 1000th time or as you drive your teen to the movie theater.
and once you begin to feel empowered just a little and safe in your own skin, share this message with someone else. i know you know someone who should hear it.
now, pardon me, i have to return some eyeshadow to my kick-ass neighbor.