I grew up the daughter of parents who never made me feel I couldn’t do something just because I was a girl. I was taught I was equal to men, could hold my own, and to be fiercely independent. I lived in a two parent household, and my parents stayed happily married until my mother died. Of course, there were some stereotypical roles that fell into place. My mother was a stay at home mom, and my dad worked to support the family. My mother cleaned the house to spotless perfection and looked after me, dinner was on the table each night at 6, and she was the arranger of all the plans. My mom was the glue that seemed to hold us all together. My father traveled extensively for work, sometimes even for weeks at a time, and my mother was always the figure in the home who held down the fort.
With that being said, my mother always made it clear that she had been the primary breadwinner before we moved to the US. I knew she stopped working to look after me, and also because it made more sense financially. She always told me to make sure I was ok on my own if I ever needed to be, and to make sure I always had my name on the house, cars, and other assets as well as my husband. She’d had friends who had gotten divorced and ended up screwed because they hadn’t looked out for themselves as well. In other words, while my parents lived in many ways an old fashioned set up, I was always taught to be a modern, independent woman who could look after herself, and why that was so important. I also learned that I could be a good wife, a good mom, and that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do just because I was a girl. Women in today’s society are told we can have it all, the career, the family, the home, and all that comes with us.
We can. Many women do. But sometimes, it’s really hard. Like, really, really hard.
I hesitated to write this, because it’s hard to be vulnerable. Usually when I admit a vulnerability, it gets thrown back at me. That being said, I am who I am, and unapologetically so. I own my mistakes, I own who I am, both on my best and worst days. The other week someone tried a jab at my parenting when I “lost” my daughter. (More on that in a future blog). Yet still, I owned it. At the end of the day, I am bluntly, without apology, or explanation, myself. With me, you know what you are getting. My filter isn’t very good, and my face will say my thoughts anyway.
So with all the things. The work, the parenting, the house, the jobs, the peopling, the endless obligations that have stacked up….it’s gotten to be a bit much to manage on my own. My husband is always supportive of me in everything I do, but he works long hours and our schedules are opposite, so much of the stuff around the house and scheduling the kids falls to me. I am trying to hold all the pieces together of the life puzzle and I ran out of hands. I’m left tired and drained. They always say on a plane to put your oxygen mask on first so you can help others. I have been doing the reverse and I ran out of air. The more I couldn’t focus on a few things, the more everything started to spiral where it got to be just a bit more to manage.
This week I hit a wall. I’ve only had it happen a few times in my life, but this week was one of them. This week something snapped. The year of yes came to a crashing end and I just wanted to say no. I looked around and for all I was doing, it just wasn’t amounting to what it should.
And I stopped.
I cried a little, I’ll admit it.
And then I did what I hate doing the most.
I asked for help.
I hate asking for help. I always think it’s an imposition. It feels like I am failing at something, and I sort of hate that. The funny thing is, I always encourage others to ask for help, and always am willing to help others. I suppose we are always hardest on ourselves, right?
I’ve suffered from depression since I was a teen. I went through some very bad times with it, went on medication, until I finally got it under control. The fact is, I will likely always have it, but for the most part I rarely suffer these days. I haven’t been on meds for it for years, but I do stay very mindful of when it feels that it’s starting up. Yesterday I realized I need to stop and breath. I looked around, and realized I needed to ask for help to ease the burden of things for a little while. I called my dad and said I wanted to come visit and have a mini vacation.
I had an honest chat with my family and the response was amazing. I said I am overwhelmed, and they stepped up to ask how in turn they could each help. That’s family. Even the little things stack up to help. This morning, my husband offered to run the kids to camp and returned home with a coffee for me. He called from work to check in, just to make sure I am ok. He knows that usually, I keep it all together, but when I am struggling, he is there to check in…just to make sure I am hanging in there and to see if I need anything. The reminder that he is there to back me up and lift me up if I fall is a great source of comfort.
The next week or so is going to be busy. Much to plan, to do, and to coordinate. That being said, I will be pausing to breathe more, saying no when I get overwhelmed, and asking for help if I need it. I will try me best to take care of me a bit better than I have been. Maybe I’ll even use that gift certificate for a massage my aunt sent me. Seems like a perfect time to use it. Rest and recharge amongst the chaos, so I can minimize the chaos.
Yesterday, when I felt my worst, I looked around at ALL the THINGS that needed doing, and I felt like a failure. My mom had always made things seem so effortless. I look back and realize how much I took for granted. I realize I looked at her and she made it all seem so darned easy. I came home from school to find my laundry done, the house clean, a meal on the table, and I never really comprehended the amount of work that went into making all of that happen. I also realized she would have told me that while she was a stay at home mom, I work full time. I have less time for some of the things than she had. I know she would have reminded me of the times when she seemed short with me or stressed that she too struggled with getting it all done. She would also remind me that sometimes, you just have to go and take a nap and figure it out later.
When you grow up and you watch your mom do it all, you think you can too. There is a big push on social media and the media in general to be the mom who can be perfect. Everyone portrays themselves to be super moms. They post and pin and they present the perfect outside image. Their immaculate houses, their vacations, their endless smiles. The fact is, I’m sure there’s a lot of women who feel they too need to pause, take a deep breath, and escape from it all for a few. To not have ALL the THINGS in their heads and to do lists every moment. So I’m waving to those ladies, from my yard that needs weeding, my house that needs cleaning, surrounded by all the jobs I need to do but have no time to do them in because there’s only so many hours in a day. I hear you. I see you. I’m one of you too.