Dear young women in my life...don't die

Dear young women in my life....

I spent most of my 20’s and 30’s beating myself up because I didn’t have enough time or energy to meet the demands on me. I ALWAYS felt like I was failing.

Not being a good enough mom.
Not being able to hit all the marks the kids’ school wanted me to hit.
Not being “on top of it” enough at work.
Not serving enough at church.

I used to joke that I wished I had a wife.

I couldn’t imagine what life would be like if I had someone who handled things like car registrations, staying on top of permission slips, keeping the house stocked with groceries, cooking meals, or any of the other thousands of details I handled.

It never occurred to me (at that time) that there was a gender bias when it came to workload.

My husband and I were raised with clear roles about who was supposed to do what, and we followed them.

It’s not just that it left me exhausted—which it did. It’s that the expectations weren’t even possible to meet. But I didn’t know that. So, I felt that I was the problem. That there was something wrong with me.

And living in that condition meant there was no time or energy to explore the things that made my heart sing. There was no room for me in this world of demands. About 15 years into my marriage, I hit the wall. HARD.

So, the three pieces of life saving advice I give now are these:
  1. Take back your time.Schedule blocks on your calendar for yourself and defend them with a knife. No one will applaud you for this. Do it anyway. 
  2. Drop every activity and person that sucks the energy out of you no matter what people might think of you or who you disappoint. This isn’t selfish. This is life saving. It will dramatically impact your quality of life. 
  3. Pay for help. Even when you are broke.Having someone clean your house, or babysit, or do your taxes will mean the difference in whether or not you get to recharge. You can’t play or rest if a to-do list is hanging over your head. Eat beans/rice every meal if you need to. Prioritize this financially. 
One of the most devastating aspects of my context was that my religious upbringing was a huge part of the problem here. Instead of getting to be someone with needs and dreams of my own, I was supposed to give every last ounce of energy to everyone else. Proverbs 31 and all that.

The male leadership was mostly blind to how much of their capacity was created by caregiving and assistance by women. So, it meant that much of the teaching from the pulpit completely missed me.

Here’s the thing...

No one can do this for you. You have to do this yourself. And it is life or death.

Why?

You can only overdraw your internal reserves for so long without having to pay a heavy price. For sure, your body may not drop lifeless to the floor immediately, but you will numbly stumble through on autopilot in a self-critical haze living life every bit as animated as a zombie.

The people in  your world will receive the benefit of the tasks you cover but they will 100% miss out on the beauty of you being authentically you.

So, please don’t die.

Your precious heart is worth fighting for.

And you can put up with a little side eye.

1 comment

Rosemary said...

So true - and the bias is still there even if it's not quite as bad as it was. Set out as you mean to go on. We establish patterns of behaviour early on and then they become really hard to change. Great article Cathy

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© Random Cathy
Maira Gall