Frank will be away this weekend for the military. He goes away once a month. This time, it is a 3 day weekend away and he may or may not come home at night. As such, we asked Frank’s parents’ if they could watch our dog. I was sharing how grateful I was with one co-worker and another one shook his head in disgust.
Apparently people have done this for years before without there being issues. People he knew took care of multiple children and multiple dogs at the same time. I understand that people have done these things. I can do them too. I am perfectly capable of walking a dog and pushing a stroller, but it is difficult. It is doable, but this task can be daunting, especially if you are sleep deprived.
[My infant has yet to sleep through the night. Let me tell you how fun it is to have people silently judge why your infant isn’t “sleeping through the night” yet based off of your choices…which by the way, don’t prove anything because I know people who do the same things I do and people who don’t and their kids will or will not sleep through the night. It is more kid dependent than procedure dependent. If one procedure worked 100% wouldn’t we all do this to achieve more sleep?]
Anyways, there are also the semantics of having to take the dog out early in the morning while my infant is still sleeping. What do I do if she wakes while I’m out? It can be done. I know it can. I know I could do it. I’m not weak. In fact, I’m quite a determined individual. The matter is less of ability and more of desire. The dog would wake me at 6 am. I get varying sleep as it is. Am I selfish for wanting to take advantage of the possibility of not having to deal with that for a couple more minutes of shut-eye (that is if my baby decides she can sleep in for once)? Perhaps. If so, I don’t care. I need my sleep to be a better mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and most importantly, Christian.
Also, I don’t really have a fenced in yard. I can’t just let the dog out. I actually have to walk the dog. I’m pregnant. Crouching down to pick up dog poo is getting more difficult. Again, can do it, but why strain myself if I have someone willing to assist me and my family?
In America, I find too many stressed out mothers. We try to take on too much. Supermom is some wonderful ideal to achieve, apparently. In the process, we wind up frazzled, anxious, disgruntled, bitter, wrathful, and/or angry. I might be making a generalization and I don’t have statistics to back it up, but it seems that mothers are a bit more relaxed in other cultures. If they don’t have help from a child’s father (which is actually the case in most countries…child rearing is seen as a female responsibility for some reason), they at least have a community of women giving advice and lending a hand when needed. Several men in America refuse to help too (it isn’t “manly” in their eyes) and American women aren’t asking other women for help. However, women in other countries have lower postpartum depression rates. It seems they have a greater sense of self-worth and identity.
For years I tried to put on a stable face. Inside, I was screaming. I wanted help with my emotions, my adolescence, and my routine. I would try to figure out womanhood from my parents but they were too busy working. I was told to just deal with things or to get over them. I do believe there is a time and place to not wallow in a pity party, but I was a confused teenager. I don’t want to be a strung-0ut mother. I know too many of them. They scream at their kids and more so their spouse. I lived for too long trying to push through things. When I finally let go of that pride and voiced a need for help, which is still a work in progress, I noticed myself more relieved and content.
When I first had Willow, I was stressed out about dishes piling in the sink and a mound of laundry building. I could clean, but I was trying to sleep when the baby slept (as I’d been advised). I couldn’t get sleep and get these chores accomplished at the same time. I called in resources. Some people gave me static for it. However, I am typically not a resentful person. I have my struggles, I complain, and I vent, but overall, I’m a pretty relaxed and laid-back individual. I generally like life. I can’t say the same for the individuals I know who “did it all alone”. Instead, I notice the people, especially the women, who tried and/or are trying to handle everything themselves are burnt-out, angry, bitter, or crazed. No thank you!
Individuals who can conquer the world, through their own volition or not , tend to be more worn out and drained, especially when attempting to gain victory through their own means. God has blessed me with a community full of resources willing to help me. Why should I remain in a place of fatigue when I can be a calm and joyful person by calling on the willing help available to me? Then, when they need help, I’ll be refreshed and energized to do so.
Americans, it is time we started to live in community, as God intended, and from it, be happier, more joyful, more able people! From where I’m standing, it doesn’t look like individualism, independence, or the “American dream” has led to satisfaction, peace, or a high quality of life. I choose fellowship, a reduction in stress, and joy. When assistance is available, and I don’t feel like I’m being a sponge simply for being a sponge, I’ll choose to use what has been given to me, with gratitude and subduing my often anxious spirit.
I’ll lay down comparing myself to others, I’ll stop trying to do it all, and as a result, be the calm, encouraging, and community-oriented person I am, and we all are, designed to be.