Now that I'm sliding towards the home base of 40 years of age (and no fucks left to give), I can't help but look back on - honestly - how shit being 30 was. 30 is "adult up." Party years are over. It's time to settle down, pop out your kids (should you choose to have them), and grind your way towards PTA meetings and empty nest syndrome.
30 is the weight of the world falls on your head like a ton of bricks - because you don't know any better.
This week has been an interesting and insightful one. There was a cool little reddit thread about why women nag, and there was a surprising number of women who piped up and said that the men in their life WANTED them to. Why did men want the women to nag? Well, reasons including a) they didn't have their shit together, and b) the cultural expectation that this is the way it ought to be. Substitute a polka dot and lipstick for a hot mess, the martini glass for a wine glass, and the gossiping housewives for mom trying to work, and you've basically got the recipe for an updated 1950s housewife.
Throw a laugh track in, we've got a fucking sitcom.
Needless to say, the Babble article "Everyone in My Family Is Happier When I Don’t Work — Except for Me" which also came out this week touched a chord of sympathy in me at the same time it pissed me off. I've done a lot of growing past 35, and I expect I'll do more yet. I can't promise I know everything, but I do know this one thing:
If everyone's happy but you, this isn't sustainable.
There's a reason women suffer depression and anxiety and stress more than men. If you look at the list from the Mayo clinic, and you skip past the bullshit at the top about our PMS makes us crazy (like, REALLY?), buried near the bottom of the list are things like social isolation, life circumstances, and culture.
Can we just move this up to the top of the list, please?
Not to belittle issues like postpartum depression and PMDD, which are real and serious. BUT, while everyone is making these neat little boxes to lable various causes and effects in, I think the fact that "social isolation, life circumstances, and culture" is actually the common denominator that exacerbates all the other triggers. Don't think it's true? How about that whole bullshit with the greeting "How are you?" and how we're expected to respond.
Our culture is one of mom-martyrs and super women, sacrificing everything to be everything for everybody else. And it's bullshit. And if the ones who love you can't see that they're wearing you down to a nub in the ground, well, you've got a situation that's going to kerplode sooner or later.
I've been given grief about having only one kid (can you believe people have actually called me selfish?). I have a few friends I haven't seen face to face in years because they're busy with little Johnny's back-to-back extracurricular calendar. I felt hella guilty about getting a housekeeper because I work from home. I worried about whether I was traumatizing my son for life by yelling at him for - yet again - not having his shit together in the morning, causing us a mad rush to get to the bus stop.
You know what I think these days?
I think the decision about how many kids I want to exit my vagina is my business and my husband's. Especially since, you know, nobody else will be stepping up to the plate to help us feed and raise them.
I think some of these "friends" are jerks and not my friends after all. Nothing says "I don't give a shit about you" like the inability to make a lunch date before 2020.
I think if the housekeeper's going to judge me for paying her to do the things I hate instead of doing it myself, I'm sure I can find someone else to pay. I sure as hell don't have to worry about what my husband thinks, he thinks this is the smartest idea I ever had, and now he wants to pay other people to do everything that we always felt like we had to do around the house ourselves.
I also think that my son is growing into a little man. He's not three anymore, and completely helpless. He's eight, and is 100% capable of making sure he packs his lunch in the evening - and he knows this is his chore. Why should I feel guilty about expecting him to have his shit together and getting pissed about having to nag? Will his future girlfriend thank me for his leaving my house looking for another woman to be his mom?
I would think not.
Don't commit to doing more than is good for your mental health. Don't fall prey to the whole idea you have to pop out 3.5 children. When people offer to help, throw chores at them. Give your babies formula if it makes it easier for you. Pay for help whenever you want to and can afford to. Pay for a housekeeper. Buy a dinner service (hell, most of us at YMC have become addicted to it). Go back to work, and leave your kids in the hands of a GOOD childcare service if you want to work.
We're not Stepford wives. Every situation is different. But the one thing I can guarantee? Nobody enjoys being the mom martyr. So don't do it.
We'll have enough shit to deal with in our lives without willingly putting all of our happiness on the sacrificial altar.