I have been asking other women questions lately. I’m incredibly interested in the idea of the mother/woman as martyr. I’m not sure we do it intentionally, but for some reason, we always seem to put ourselves last. And when we do put ourselves first, we vehemently justify:
I hardly ever treat myself
I deserve it
I really needed it
It’s long overdue
I NEVER do anything for myself
So on and so forth. All these things are true. But after reading Gemma at My Big Nutshell‘s posts about “Who is She Trying To Impress?” part one, and part two, I got to thinking (hold on to your hats, nothing good has ever come of me thinking too hard about anything – other than perhaps a quiet and deadly fart as payback to my husband for all of his doona dutch ovens).
What I often wonder, along the same vein that Wang and Gemma pose a similar question, is:
“Who are we trying to justify ourselves to?”
1. Our family?
I don’t know about anyone else’s family, but when I bring up the concept of me doing something for myself – say, getting my hair done, or going on a date with my husband, or getting myself some new clothes – very, very, very rarely does anyone even bat an eyelid, let alone consider what a selfish awful mother I am. In fact, when talking with Pal this evening about how much I am enjoying my new hair cut and how easy it is to style and how I wish it could be like this for more than a few weeks and did he think it was possible in our budget for me to have a cut and style and zhoosh every 6-8 weeks? He looked at me like I was daft and said: “Uh, yeah, whatever.”
I think his main confusion lied in the very fact that I take care of the budget. So if anyone knows what is and isn’t possible within that constraint, it is me.
Also, I am generally in charge of getting myself and the children out and about. So if I wanted to head off and do something outrageous like sit in a chair and get a head massage, or go to a movie childless, that’s really up to me, yes? Why am I asking for permission?
2. Our friends?
Is it some kind of competition? Are we trying to tell our loved ones and fun makers that we are good mothers, or perhaps better than our peers, by denying ourselves? Every bit of reading I do into mother’s mental well being clearly states that for a mother to be able to operate as a mother, in her full capacity and happiness, she must take time out for herself. Some of us choose to hide in pantries. Other’s hide in their bathrooms. Sometimes some of us do both. Some of us live an online life and some of us get out of the house as much as posssible. But how many of us pamper ourselves as part of their me time?
When I put the call out for when was the last time people (that is, mothers and women in general, because that is my demographic) I was not surprised to read, hear and talk to women who, like me, hadn’t had a hair cut in over a year. A YEAR! What is wrong with us ladies? Why can we not get ourselves to a goddamn hair dresser once every two months? Or even three? Is is really that hard? Because, honestly, when I think about it – in the year that I hadn’t had a hair cut, even with my transportation problems (that is, no Precious), breastfeeding and medical appointments all over the freakin place, there were approximately 104 opportunities I had. That’s how many days Pal had off, in his weekends. He could have looked after the children for me. No one would have died.
He’s looked after the children when I have gone for coffee. Twice. Why not more? Certainly not for him not offering. Certainly not for lack of opportunities. And I have a bevy of offers for babysitting that I NEVER take up! It’s like I’m hardwired to spoil my own fun!
3. The elusive they?
The other mothers? Who? Really? Because the last thing I would be doing is judging a woman for getting her goddamn hair done. Or going on a date with her husband. Or going out for coffee or movie with her girlfriends, sans children. I don’t know how many times I have been asked, when out and about, shit, even when just in the supermarket: “where are the kids?”
“Oh, well, actually, I’ve left them in the gutter, hungry and cold. I needed some milk so thought that was best, don’t you think?”
I get defensive and start to think: Apparently, now I am a mother, being seen without my children is some kind of cardinal sin.
The questions are even worse if I am seen with only one or two of my children, and especially if seen with only one of the twins: “where is the other one?” I get defensive and feel I’ve been accused of some kind of crime!
“Oh, well, I gave him away. I already have one, and seeing as they are genetically identical I figured I’d be able to share the child bearing love around whilst still keeping at least one of them.”
I think the reason people are really asking where my kids are is because it is seriously rare for me to be seen without them.
So, ladies. Who are we trying to impress? Who are we afraid of being judged by?
In my world – it’s myself. I try so hard to be a good mum. I really do. I have my moments, it’s true. I have recently secured my children in the playroom in order to get some peace and quiet. I have hidden in the pantry and loo countless times. At my core though, is the desire to be the best mum I can be to my children. I could care less about the Mum you are to yours (or your future babies).
|That’s my husband. Not caring that in the past two weeks I have had a haircut, bought new makeup and got myself a new top and cardi to wear out to dinner. And that’s me, my own worst enemy.
We are our own worst enemies. For goodness sake, go on a date with your husbands. Whether you have children or not. What’s stopping you, really? Get your hair done before hand. Even buy yourself a new top or new lipstick. Go away for a few days when it is offered to you. Yes, you will miss the children. But you will miss not going more. Don’t justify it. Just do it and tell the world how exciting it all is.
Oh, and while you are out, could you perhaps buy a sock, so I can put one in my mouth?
Love from the Pot, calling the Kettle Black, xoxo
P.S. Gemma totally said that I could steal her blog title. I’m hoping it goes viral and there are parts 4, 5, 6 and so on. You get the picture.