Sunday, June 12, 2011

First Day Musings --- An Eye for an Eye

Warning: Rant below.

This week a friend and I had a very interesting exchange. She confided she had been to her doctor for "dope" -- read: anti-depressants. The doctor asked her if she had thoughts of "doing harm to herself or others." My friend stated, laughingly, "all the time!" As we talked, we realized that we both share a common, er, concern: that we feel as though every direction we turn someone wants something from us.

That night, I picked up my current night-night book, Land of Long Ago, by Eliza Calvert Hall Obenchain, and started reading the next little story "An Eye for an Eye." In the story, Aunt Jane relates how a friend of hers had a sort of nervous breakdown after a sermon on an eye for an eye -- that what we give out comes back to us in kind. The friend's husband, in this story, was the victim of some kind of destructive prank: hoes left in the field, grain thrown around the barn, cows out, and so forth. In short, someone was undoing all his work! As the story unfolded, it turns out his wife (Aunt Jane's friend) was returning to him what he had done to her all their married life: undone her work. He had come into the house with muddy feet, thrown his clothes around, left dirty dishes scattered, and so on. We all, as women, can understand this, can't we? So, she was giving him an eye for an eye back.

As I read this story, I thought about how so many women, myself included, struggle with conflicting feelings of insufficiency. We try to be all things, but, in short, we are a dab of this and that. Very few of us manage to successfully be all things to all people. Thus, we end up spread far too thin and very unhappy. In fact, if the truth be told, I dare say nearly all us at one time or another has thought: "If I were just dead, this pain would end."

Where do these feelings start? Is it the fact that magazines shout at us that we should have this kind of home? Or is it those TV shows with the perfectly decorated and maintained house? Or, is it the myth that as women we can be all things to all people? Or maybe it is the lie of so-called "radical feminism" that we are better than our male counterparts and as such we should be able to do it all and still be thin, dressed impecably, and pleasant.

Whatever it is, I am tired of playing the game. Are you? My sink has dirty dishes; my flowerbeds are overrun with weeds; dirty laundry is piled head high on the washer; and the goats' stalls need a good cleaning. I can't do it all. I can only do what I can do. And, I am not going to sacrifice the joy of living with the prison of doing, of keeping up with whoever is making the rules. In short, I am taking my ball and going home --- even if it isn't perfect.


  1. Very well put:-) We all tend to put these unrealistic expectations on ourselves and others. Long ago I gave them up and am much happier!

  2. Your well-said posting so reminded me of Anne Morrow Lingbergh's book Gift from the Sea. She talks about something that to me is connected -- of finding our selves spread so thin... poured out... with little to refill it.

    Here's a quote from p. 45-46....

    "... Traditionally we are taught, and instinctively we long, to give where it is needed--and immediately. Eternally, woman spills herself away in driblets to the thirsty, seldom being allowed the time, the quiet, the peace, to let the pitcher fill up to the brim.

    "But why not, one may ask? What is wrong with woman's spilling herself away, since it is her function to give?...

    "Here is a strange paradox. Woman instinctively wants to give, yet resents giving herself in small pieces. Basically is this a conflict? ... I believe that what woman resents is not so much giving herself in pieces as giving herself purposelessly. What we fear is not so much that our energy may be leaking away through small outlets as that it may be going 'down the drain.'

    ... Purposeful giving is not as apt to deplete one's resources..... "

    To me, trying to live up to some of those unrealistic expectations from the media and whoever else, is energy going 'down the drain.' No wonder we're rising up and saying.. no more.

    I'm off to catch more glimpses of heaven in unexpected places............ you too?

  3. Perfectly and beautifully put, Matty. I agree completely. I'm happiest when I put that darn measuring stick away! I know that - yet I continually find myself secretly dragging it back out. Why do we/I do that?

  4. I have thought about that for years, especially when I worked outside the home and had to balance home-making and work-doing.

    I truly believe the expectations of women really started with the Baby Boomer generation (that being us). We were brought up by women who mostly stayed at home to tell us we could do it all and be it all... and we came to realize we could not.

    My mother did work full time but never tried to do it all (she was not much of a housekeeper, hehehe).

    I love two of Elizabeth Goudge's books that deal about women's expectation and depression... Pilgrim's Inn (which can be stand alone but the first in the series helps understand it better) and The Scent of Water (which deals a lot about depression in a lovely way, believe it or not). :)

  5. Great post!! No one woman can do it all!! I see these women that work outside their home and their house maybe spotless BUT their kids are needing attention something terrible! We decided before we even had kids I would be a stay at home mom. I have women ask me all the time how to get my kids to behave and clean up and etc etc.... Well it don't happen all the time. I have a dirty house (sure to be the time when some one drops in)! I am real not super woman. Never will be. Housekeeping is not my niche, forte or strength.. I am a passable housekeeper. I just don't think you can do it all. Something will slip.. It seems to usually be the kids that pay. I am not real worried about what people think because the ones who know me know ME. Things are well taken care and everything is fed and cleaned(reasonably so anyways)! Its all good. Society pushes and pushes for everyone to be the perfect wife, mother and etc... There is NO Perfection! Just need to be real and quit stressing out about things that really dont matter.
    What really gets me is the men that Expect women to do everything AND have an outside job... I have a friend whose husband is like that and its all I can do to hold my tongue. He doesn't like for us to be around each other because I am to independent and influence her! My hubby likes that I can think for myself.. Okay I will hush as I am getting off subject! Great post!

  6. Amen Matty! I remember as a young woman listening to the feminist Marlo Thomas and her husband Phil Donahue (I particularly loathe Phil) tell women they could have it all and knowing it was untrue. Funny thing is, she never had children and was wealthy enough to household help so why anyone listened to her is beyond me. Whenever I see someone that has the so-called "perfect" life, I look at them with a jaded eye. We will never know if their children are alienated or their husband is unhappy. Having it all is a myth.


Thanks for dropping in on the farm today! I enjoy your comments!