Monday, August 29, 2011

The Uncertain Extent

Do you get this advice often?  "Honey, you just have to find some'll happen, you'll get it. Once you find that balance it'll all be good." 

I a certain extent. I agree to the extent that I think it's a great idea and seems really nice, but it never works for me. That's the uncertain extent.

Since we've gotten married, I have been sick, oh, I can't even count the number of times. I'm currently trying to get over another plaugue, which means at the end of each day I am flat out worn out. I have used everything I have. I have dipped so deep in the well I started bringing up...well, you get my drift. There ain't nothin' left, honey!

This constant assault on my immune system has greatly offended my sense of domestication. Hamburger Helper has become my closest companion. A quick "blow" test has begun to suffice before I decide whether or not to expend energy dusting any piece of furniture. And I found my husband watering my patio plants yesterday...for which said plants were very grateful...because they were on the brink of death.

This does not seem like an appropriate balance to me. The balance between me laying on the couch with cough drops, Puff Plus Tissues infused with Vicks and lotion, V8 juice and a generally whiny attitude while my husband warms up a Hot Pocket for dinner is WAY overshadowing the do-it-yourself, motivated, tireless and sometimes creative self I'm used to.

But I got to thinking about it. Of course, we all need balance. Too much of even a good thing can turn ugly real quick. But then it dawned on me: everything in life is constantly changing. How in the world are you supposed to reach that perfect balance that your life "should" be at unless all the factors of this equation we live out every day remain the same at all times? That's never gonna happen! For goodness sake, the Earth itself rotates on a TILT of 23.4 degrees!!! No wonder I'm not "balanced"!

My first reaction to this realization was an ever-so-slight anal-retentive freak-out. Ever-so-slight, I said. I considered creating one of those handy charts where every hour of the day is mapped out, and if followed properly, you'll have time for everything and everyone. BULL-on-ey. I thought perhaps I was doing too much and there's something I need to let go. No, I did most of that a while back. Get up earlier? I'm already getting fewer hours of sleep, no wonder I'm sick!

I've come to the realization that, like it or not, life happens. There will be engagements, and weddings, and honeymoons, and moves, and hospital stays, and family reunions, and holidays, birthdays, illnesses...the list goes one. It's not really about's about focus.

So...I'll choose to focus on the fact that, no matter if my husband is eating a five-course dinner or a warmed-up leftover, I'm still sitting there eating with him. Perhaps the house is not clean to MY standards, but I've been able to spend time with my family instead. Maybe special projects aren't as far along as they should be, but my health is stronger.

Focus, not balance. And then maybe balance will come. It DOES, after all take focus to keep your balance. To a certain extent.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Stages of a Woman

I know it's been a while since I've blogged, and there's a reason for that: this one's been a long time coming! It may not be the most popular subject, but I think it's one that each of us, as women, need to take note of. (Yes, I'm aiming this mainly towards my apologies to any men who may be reading this...honestly, guys, I don't think you need to worry about this one much. But feel free to read on!)

It starts when we're babies. When a female child is born, everyone goes all a flutter with pinks and purples, ribbons and boas, fluffy bows and patent leather's a girl, and we're gonna make sure EVERYONE knows it!!!

That's all well and good - I have no doubt that when I have a child I'll be maxed out on the accessory side, one way or another. I get it. It's fun, it's cute, and we want the best for our little ones. Nothing wrong with that, right?

As the girl grows, she fluctuates through many stages: the Princess, the Tomboy, the Artist, the Brat...I could go on. Eventually, she gets through High School and we all hope she has some idea of what she wants to do with her life. That's when it really begins...and I'm convinced she has no idea what's coming.

Somewhere in her early 20's the girl is still trying to find herself. Perhaps she's out on her own now. She's trying to find a balance between being responsible enough to pay her bills, and having enough "her" time so she doesn't go over the edge of this crazy thing we call life. If she has a job, she's either on the bottom of the totem pole, trying to work her way up, or she's wondering why she got that college degree when she wasn't going to be able to find work in that field, anyway. Maybe she's in a relationship. Maybe she's not.

And it starts.

"So, are you ever gonna get married, or are you planning on staying single for the rest of your life?" (Yes, this is a real question a married woman asked me when I was about 24 and single.)

So she gets married.

"Congratulations on your wedding, I'm so happy for you! Now, when do you plan on having kids? You don't want to wait too long, you know...that biological clock is gonna run out eventually!" (Another real statement, coming to me from a mother of 5...THREE WEEKS AFTER MY WEDDING. One of my other favorites was, "Oh, you're not busy. There's no way you're busy until you have kids. Then you'll understand what busy really is.")

So, she has a baby. (No, I'm NOT pregnant.)

"What a beautiful baby! So when do you plan on having the next one?" (This is a line more than one of my friends have shared with me that they have received...the most appalling one being while this new mom was still in the hospital. Yes, it was a real question - the person was not at all joking.)

So, she has four babies in 5 years.

"My goodness, are you trying to compete with the Duggars?" (This is a reference to TLC's cable show about Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, parents of 19 children...and yet another real statement a dear friend of mine has endured more than once.)

So, she stops having babies and tries her best to focus on raising them right.

"You know, honey, when I was raising MY kids, I did things quite a bit differently than you are. Here, I'll make you a little list of do's and don'ts. Things will start running much more smoothly for you when you do things the way I did." (Another true statement from a woman whose totally healthy kids were grown to a stressed mother trying to raise two mentally disabled children.)

Do you follow my drift? No matter what a woman does, there is always a chorus of other women behind her, telling her she should do it differently! And in this crazy world we live in, we need to support each other, not criticize the life choices our sisters make!

In my life I have been blessed to know so many amazing, inspiring women; I am incredibly thankful for these examples that have been placed in my life, and I am thrilled at the prospect of those I have yet to meet who will impact me in the future! However, I have also encountered women who have struck me down with their harsh words, cruel actions and quick judgements. Those ladies have also made an indelible impact on me.

But let me tell YOU something...

You may be reading this as a single woman, desperately desiring to be married, and wondering when it's ever going to happen for you! YOU MATTER!

Perhaps you're a single mom, trying so hard to do what's best for your children, and feeling so discouraged at the end of the day! YOU ARE NEEDED!

For you married women who long for a baby, and it hasn't happened yet, for whatever reason, YOU ARE SPECIAL!

If you're reading this as a single woman who has chosen to be single, YOU ARE AMAZING!

You may be reading this as a woman who has one, or two or three or four or more children, and it's all you can do to get dinner on the table and make sure the kids and the husband are happy at the end of the day! YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!

Perhaps you're a woman who has chosen schooling or career or adventure over creating and caring for a family, YOU ARE INCREDIBLE!

For you who are in the midst of raising older children, and you feel like every day is nothing but a fight, YOU CAN DO IT!

If you're reading this as a woman who is trying to balance life, work, family, and so many other things, YOU ARE WONDERFUL!

And finally, if you are a woman who has done it all, and now is enjoying some well-deserved rest...CHEER THE REST OF US ON!

My heart is this: women, let's stop the criticizing. Enough of the judgement. Just because someone isn't doing it the way you did leaves no room for tearing them down. We need support from one another. We crave it. And there's no time like the present to give it.