Saturday, August 14, 2010

We are weak and He is strong

We can do it all, but should we?
It is not a secret that women are stronger than men.

We give birth and deal.

They get a cold and spend 3 days in bed.

I had the experience of having major surgery -- twice. I had two ectopic pregnancies and because I live in Mexico in an area where there is not a lot of quality medical care, I ended up with both fallopian tubes removed; something that would never happen in the states or in a larger city down here.

I was a working mother; a mother to my genetic son. A mother to my spouse at the time. A mother to his three children. And main breadwinner.

After both surgeries, I was up and working on the computer in the hallway in my hospital gown with my IV drip because someone had to pay the $3,000 usd I owed the gynecologist for having mutilated me.

The day after that I was making breakfast for everyone and practically back to business as usual.

A week later I was on stage singing in a concert.

We train people how to treat us. I trained everyone around me that I was a Superwoman. So, I had to fulfill that role no matter what. This was the message I received from my mother, who raised four children with no help from my dad working full-time as a nurse and going to school at night.

This was the message I received from the culture around me. Just check out this link if you need reinforcement for what I am saying: I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan...

The image of the optimal 80s woman was in a dark blue tailored suit with a baby perched on one hip and a briefcase clasped in the other hand.

We were told we could and should be able to do it all.

And I bought it -- hook, line and sinker.

I took feminism classes in college which only added to the weight of my responsibilities. I OWED it to the women who came before me -- who FOUGHT for my right to vote, to own property, to work, to choose -- to pursue a career.

And I was mandated to do this FIRST against what science shows is optimal for a woman physically and biology. Mothering was something that was to be put on the back burner and addressed later on -- only AFTER a certain professional level had been achieved.

So, it was take the pill, climb the corporate ladder and leave family for last; almost as an afterthought.

When I married and after almost two YEARS of trying I finally got pregnant, and the moment of truth came in which my belief system -- my socialization -- collided with the realities of the demands of being an 'attached' mother.

Because I also firmly believed that it was my G-d given duty to be the best mother I possibly could. I read all the books -- an entire library full -- when I was pregnant. I interviewed moms who attracted me, whose children seemed to have turned out healthy and sane children.

I discovered Mothering magazine and Dr. Sears and and Sheila Kitzinger.

I wanted to do everything right from home birth to slinging to sleeping with my baby to nursing and all the other natural behaviors that had been part of mothering before modern civilization intervened.

That did not include sticking my newborn in daycare at 6 weeks and going back to work, but rather finding a way to continue to make a living at home so I could be with him. That did not include formula feeding, but rather 'on demand' nursing even though my milk would soak through my tailored suit jackets when a meeting went long. That did not include a Crate and Barrel decorated nursery (which I couldn't afford anyway), but rather a spot next to me in our king size bed. When I think back on how amazing it was to sleep with him and wake up next to him, I get really emotional (he's 10 now ;-) And it did not include a hospital birth with interventions and crisis, in an environment that almost no one chooses to be in of their own volition; NO, I wanted to have my son at home. No drugs. No intervention. And I did.

And that day I was Superwoman.

But today I am obliged to admit that I wish I hadn't carried it past that day. I wish I had been able to choose to focus ONLY on my son and let him and myself be taken care of. I wish I had had a provider. I wish I hadn't had to do it all, which only led to resentments, fighting, me feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, taken advantage of, and ultimately, sick and tired.

We split up, my son's dad and I, when he was a year and a half.

It was doomed from the start, because I didn't know then what I know now.

And it's so simple.

Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you should.

Just because you can make a better living, doesn't mean you should usurp your husband's position as breadwinner.

1.) If I do "X", am I taking over what should be my husband's responsibility?
2.) If I do "X", am I going to feel resentment, now or in the future?
3.) If I do "X", am I taking away my spouse's personal power as a man?
4.) If I do "X", am I stepping outside my realm of nurturing and caring for my family?

All my life I have been Superwoman. All that changed one year ago when after a separation and a long sickness my business failed and I ended up broke and homeless.

I had been so vehement in my ability to care for myself that when in fact I needed someone to take care of me no one was there.

My drastically altered view of women's roles comes directly from this personal experience.

Let him open the door, for Crissakes. Let him pay the bill and the Bills. Let him support you financially while you create a warm, comforting home, care for the children, wash dishes, do laundry, clean floors, do the gardening, cook great meals, decorate for Christmas or Hannukah (carrying on whatever brand of traditions that are your custom), take kids to the doc, to school, to classes, to field trips, etc, etc. Give him a springboard so he can go out and conquer the world. Let him be your Knight in Shining Armor.

You, Ms. Reader, and I know how strong we are, what we are capable of doing -- even fighting in wars as did the women in Israel. But given the choice -- assuming we are not single mothers, or widowed, or in wartime fighting for our lives and our very existence -- we should choose to let our spouse be the warrior.

The more 'battles' he is allowed to fight, the more he establishes himself in his masculine role. The more powerful he feels, the happier and more content and in love with you and appreciative of you he will be.

And the more you feel cared for and protected and provided for, the happier you will be and as a result, so will your children, who are little emotional sponges that pick up through osmosis every dynamic demonstrated to them in the relationship between ma and pa. Every subtle, subconscious or conscious message.
from Wikipedia...
The Yin/Yang symbol is one of the oldest and best-known life symbols in the world, but few understand its full meaning. It represents one of the most fundamental and profound theories of ancient Taoist philosophy. At its heart are the two poles of existence, which are opposite but complementary. The light, white Yang moving up blends into the dark, black Yin moving down. Yin and Yang are dependent opposing forces that flow in a natural cycle, always seeking balance. Though they are opposing, they are not in opposition to one another. As part of the Tao, they are merely two aspects of a single reality. Each contains the seed of the other, which is why we see a black spot of Yin in the white Yang and vice versa. They do not merely replace each other but actually become each other through the constant flow of the universe.

Maybe that's why long-time married couples seem to be carbon copies of each other. After a lifetime of looking into each other's mirror and seeing their own image, after a while they can't tell if they are seeing the other or themselves.

I hope to get to old age with my current significant other. I will do what it takes to make that happen. And maybe what I don't do will make all the difference.