This post is the response to a writing prompt asking to write about something that upsets you.
What upsets me? I get upset when I see others struggling with expectations. I say I started my website because I was tired of seeing well-educated women defeated by their kitchen pantries. But the reality is I felt defeated.
I still do sometimes.
We get this message somehow that we should have it all together. All the time. But we don’t. And that’s the reality of life.
What we’ve done in our culture is told women they don’t have to be domestic. But then we shame them for not having those skills.
How can we blame ourselves for not knowing something we were never taught? (Click to Tweet) How can we blame others for not knowing either? And not just domesticity — a lot of other areas.
We say they don’t need to have children. Husband’s optional. And we criticize work choices, family sizes, and lack (or abundance) of procreation.
I know I have friends who aren’t married and don’t have children and don’t want any. Their choice. Those friends are as heavily criticized for their decision to have none as I am for my decision to have five. Both maligned for not having the average number of children.
Sometimes criticized quietly, but sometimes overtly.
And, can I be honest for a second? I HATE IT.
I hate when someone thinks it’s OK to say, “Oh my God I don’t see how you could handle it!” in front of my children. I hate that my babies are hearing the message “You are trouble. You are a hassle. You are unwanted.” And it’s every time we leave the house together.
Turn it around to see the insanity. If I said to that woman, “Oh my God, I don’t see how your husband handles being married to you,” it would (rightfully) be considered an insult. Thought rude of me to say. But when the phrase is turned against innocent children whose sense of worth is still forming, I’m supposed to react like it’s a joke.
I’m supposed to laugh it away.
It’s not right. And thinking so turns me into a “reactive person” who “can’t take a joke.” Or to some people, “a bitch.” And that isn’t fair.
How can I not respond in defense of my children? I usually say, “Actually, I consider them all a huge blessing and wouldn’t trade what I have for the world.”
But even saying those words sweetly have turned some people against me. I see their faces grow hard because I wouldn’t laugh with them. Because I wouldn’t admit that I wish I didn’t have so many kids.
Do they consider my choices a judgment on theirs? How could my uterus try, sentence, and convict someone else’s? That doesn’t even make sense. But why else would my love for my children seem an insult to them?
I hate that women are too quick to put down.
We put ourselves down. And as a result, we put down others to lift ourselves up.
I’ve noticed some people cling to a desire to see only masks. To be, in a sense, lied to. I’m realizing as my audience grows that there are some who do not want to see real life. The façade’s never been my thing, though. (Click to Tweet)
I’ve never been able to pull off the perfect mask. Maybe that’s why I was a better theatre director than actor? I don’t know.
All I know is that I’ve lived my entire life willing to say, “I am not good at this.” Comfortable with admitting where I still need to grow. Sharing, “This is really hard for me right now.” Some people don’t like to hear that.
But some people do.
I remember getting an email the first month after I launched Untrained Housewife. She had read the About page and wrote me saying, “I laughed, and then I cried. I just sat at my computer and wept in freedom when I realized I am not the only one who feels this way. Thank you so much – Now I know I’m not alone.”
She too has had moments of not-togetherness-having. Now at least she has encouragement that those messy moments can weave together into magic memories for her kids. Thriving for her family. Learning and journey-embracing together.
Have you ever been shamed for anything? For me it was my larger-than-average family but I know these things look unique to each person. Have you experienced a situation like this in your life?