There is a war going on inside of my head and heart. F bombs are being dropped, blame hurled, subversive guilt employed, smoke screens of confusion thrown in, and one very achy heart sorting through it all.
The war that’s going on is over being a woman – or rather valuing my talents and contributions as a woman.
The battleground: navigating how Shaman Guy and I view what each of us contributes to our family, the societal landscape around us, how I was raised, and how all this plays out inside of my head.
It’s so tempting to blame him or “them” or my parents or society at large. But that would be easy. And not true. This war is about me valuing me, deeply.
This is me, sorting it out.
Where to begin?
I am hugely grateful that I have a supportive husband who is also an incredible provider. At this point in our lives, he makes the money. I handle the rest.
Just that statement right there is a whole minefield. Why do you have any complaints when your life is good? Look at what’s going on in the world! What is “the rest”? Why aren’t you making money too? Is money what really matters? Is…
It’s rather loud in this head – and the fight that’s raging within me isn’t just mine. It’s been going on for millennium, on an evolutionary stage, as well as within my own family of origin. It’s broad and deep. My history?
My mom raised me on 70s era feminism. You are woman! (Hear me roar.) You can be anything you want to be! A lawyer, a doctor, the President of the United States. You choose!
I so honor and recognize that it must have been liberating to be freed from “only” being a housewife or stay-at-home mom. It was empowering to be able to consider jobs beyond being a secretary or a department store clerk or phone operator or school teacher, all of which female members of my family have proudly been. It was exhilarating to be play alongside the boys, finally.
The subtext of my upbringing? You can be anything you want to be – except a stay-at-home (or part-time working) mom. That’s not important, or valuable. That’s not being all you can be.
What isn’t mentioned… There IS a price for having it “all” – the husband, the kids, the career, the involvement in the community. The price is stress and usually a lack of time for needed self-care and nurturing.
It’s a tangled mess at the moment, my dear ladies. And I know this war isn’t just going on in my noggin. Just in the last few weeks, in small corner of the world, I’ve heard friends report in:
“My husband said, ‘What did you do today – get your nails done? Eat bonbons?’ Are you kidding me? And he’s only half-joking.”
“I said that I wanted to go out with some girlfriends Thursday night and he said, ‘Okay, but you owe me one.’ How come he doesn’t owe ME one when he goes out with his friends?”
“My hubby was at the grocery store with our daughter without me. At least three people complimented him on being such a good dad and husband. How come no one praises me when I go? It’s expected and normal for women to go shopping and care for the kids, but not for men?”
“My husband wants me to get a high-paying job. But he also wants me to still be able to drop off and pick up the kids from school, cook gourmet meals every night, and have all the laundry and housework done during the week so we can just relax and play on the weekends. He doesn’t want a cleaning lady and he doesn’t want to take on more than what he’s currently doing. How’s that supposed to happen?”
“My husband thinks that my ‘job’ caring for the kids only takes 4-5 hours a day, that I’m only juggling three balls in the air, while he is under high pressure stress at work. I felt myself agreeing with him… then later when I thought about it, I was so sad that I couldn’t even see the un-truths in what he said. I’m with the kids at least 8 hours a day. I play at least 10 roles. And if I mess up, my kids could get hurt or be in therapy for the rest of their lives. That’s high stakes too.”
I so hear you sisters.
My job? No one in her right mind would apply.
Boss is highly emotional and demanding. Known to throw tantrums, hurl food, yell ‘I hate you!’ On call 24 hours a day, no sick days, little vacation. No pay. No raises. Not much appreciation. No quitting.
Welcome to parenthood, right?
And that’s not my only job.
Mother. Wife. Step-mother. Daughter of aging parents. Sister. Social Director. Household Manager. Chef. Blogger. Writer. Speaker. Marketer.
(Oh – and then there’s me. I’m also in charge of taking care of me…)
How do we navigate it all? Where does our pay and recognition come from?
No one hands me a paycheck. No one sees how well I keep Shaman Boy fed, dressed, at stimulating activities, in a good emotional state. No one praises me for keeping a million little details in my head to keep the house running smoothly (don’t forget we’re low on toilet paper!) There’s no way to calculate how many hours or how much it’s worth to intuitively know the emotional thermometer in our house or how to adjust it.
I AM NOT COMPLAINING. (Okay, I am venting a bit.) I actually do love my job(s). I love my child. I love my husband. And myself. I find it all rewarding. And tiring, humbling, joyful.
I’m not being overly dramatic or trite in calling this a war. I’m struggling to find some footing. To be able to see more clearly. To let go of my resentments and annoyance so there can be peace in my relationship, my home, and myself once again.
I don’t have the answers. I don’t have some uplifting cute end to this blog, Shaman sisters. I am sitting with the “Hey! Wait a minute…,” with the re-framing how I see and what I value, what I do. I’m thinking it through, feeling it through, crying it through. I’m being as gentle and accepting of who I am and how I navigate this world as I can be.
I’m reminding myself that I’m more than any role I play. That I have value as a human being. That how I am matters more than what I do. And beyond all of this, I am that nameless, formless life force traveling through this human body that is infinite, loving, expansive.
I am a woman, Shaman Girls. One that plays many roles and does most of them well. One that is working through how to take care of myself, speak up for myself, value myself in the midst of a family and career. I have abilities that my beloved male partner does not possess (and he has abilities and talents that I do not). My talents and abilities and womanly-ness is needed and useful in my family. I am a mother to a precious, rewarding, maddening little boy – and that is one of the most important jobs on the planet… for his future and for the future of the world as well. I am an intuitive, emotionally sensitive, compassionate, multi-tasking, role-modeling woman. I roar and I whimper. I am strong and vulnerable. I am woman. Hear me now!
I have a big, ongoing job in front of me. Seeing and valuing who I am and what I do. I can do it. I can.
How about you, my precious ladies? How do you view your value and contributions? Weigh in, Shaman Girls. It’s time to circle up.