Whine and cheese


 

This post started as a description of a bad day. We all have them, don’t we? No matter how heavy or light our burden, some days (weeks, months) just won’t end. Or so it seems. The whine was spurred by a somewhat critical “You make everything look easy” from a friend. This shook me a little because if anything looks easy I can assure you that it’s all fluff and no substance. Anybody who sees me in real life – as opposed to social media – knows that whatever it is I’m doing, I’m (a) fumbling all the way; and (b) not doing it all that well. Every. Single. Day. I recently posted late birthday wishes to my father on Facebook, hoping that a public self-shaming would make-up for my poor daughterly behaviour, adding:

“Next time any of you wonders how Véro does it, remember that I don’t.”

That’s it in a nutshell. For every finite “thing” I do, there’s an equal amount of something else that doesn’t happen. My days, like yours, have 24h. If you look at what I don’t do, you will notice that the list of what I get done pales in comparison. That’s why I find it very irritating when people bow before me, which happens about 10 times a day when I am out and about with my family. Yes, you read that well, people bow before me. They actually, physically, bow before me. You can’t imagine how uncomfortable being worshiped can make you feel when you are not — you know — God.

Not only am I not God, I’m a wretched sinner. I order my life in concentric circles, building priorities from the centre and adding larger circles as I master the smaller ones. The smaller circles are my husband and children, my home life, around that core is my family, parents, siblings, in-laws; around the family circle are friends and close ones, this circle extends into my community. The largest circle would be those in need of my time and talent but who are not directly linked to me by the bonds of family, friendship or community. My faith radiates through from the core, informing how I (try to) relate to myself and others.

On a good day, I might make it to circle number 2. Everything else – friends, community, service – falls by the wayside. My every hour is consumed by caring for my basic needs and raising my children in a cheerful, peaceful and stable home where they can grow happy and healthy. Putting good food on the table, having clean clothes, a happy face and a listening ear takes-up my entire day. I am horrible at keeping in touch with my parents and siblings. I never remember anyone’s birthday, and when I do I don’t do anything about it. I’m a write-off when it comes to social graces like thank you notes. I have very few real friends left, and those who stick by me have precious little needs. I am not involved in my community; our family gives money to a few good causes because we can’t find the time to help out in a more meaningful way. If you are impressed because I manage to keep 9 children fed, dressed and somewhat educated assuming that I am also doing what normally productive members of the society do on the side, be informed that there is no side here: it’s all inner circle with a smattering of social media. In a nutshell it takes me 24h a day to be a decent wife and mother. That’s nothing to bow to.

Unlike some of my friends with larger-than-average families, I don’t have children with special needs. I don’t even have children with learning difficulties. In fact, all my children are above average students. They are physically, mentally and emotionally sound. My parents, my in-laws and my siblings are all in good health and economically wealthy enough to cover their needs as they age. There is no strife on either side of our extended family. There are no obvious mental health or substance abuse problems in our immediate family. We have been undeservedly spared by grief and loss. I should be able to do more with my 24h but for the limitations of my own person, my intelligence, my heart and my body. I am raising children whom I hope will be positive contributors to society, competent men and women committed to live by principles of integrity. I hope to look happy and peaceful doing it because the least I can do for the world from the confines of my kitchen – where I spend most of my life cooking, cleaning and homeschooling – is to give my children an example of self-giving that makes them want to choose others before themselves as they grow-up. Some days I fail miserably and that’s why I am still stuck in the innermost circles, trying to be a good mother, daughter, wife and sister before I move outward and onward.

Next time you are tempted to feel inadequate or bow before me or anyone else, remember that people like me need people with less stringent family obligations to make the world go round. Because I sure ain’t doin’ it. I need people like you to volunteer on school trips with my children, participate in bake sales, sit on board of directors, work as doctors, nurses and midwives, teachers, managers and creators. If you are dealing with loss, grief, illness, special needs or below average intelligence, you are already doing more than I am with my 9 healthy and bright children. So don’t bow. Don’t feel inadequate. Just go out and do your thing. From talking with you, I know that the more you already do, the more likely you are to feel like you’re not doing enough. Fill your 24h with purpose and hold you head up high.

Now go.

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4 thoughts on “Whine and cheese

  1. Pingback: The grass is not always greener

  2. Liz

    I love this. Where we live having five kids is probably the equivalent to having 10 other places. We are like a circus wherever we go. Sometimes we get compliments sometimes just stares. From people who are more well-meaning we do get kind of the “bows”. believe me having your children be of all different ethnicities and your family being grown through adoption adds a whole other layer.. Feeling like they are putting me on a pedestal. I said I don’t like being on a pedestal as I’m only 5 foot three , afraid of heights and I would hate to fall.lol.

    I love your comment about 24 hours. When people say “I don’t know how you do it all. ” Or they find out we homeschool and that for some reason that’s the cherry on top of the sundae I turn to them and say I have the same 24 hours in the day that you do I just choose to spend them differently. For instance our kids are not in a bunch of extracurricular activities. Our kids are homeschooled so we’re not running to different schools dropping them off and picking them up. We don’t have hobbies outside of our home that take us outside of our home. We don’t have really a lot of friends that we get together with. We rarely go out and just do things just to do things. We do them purposefully as a family. What I mean by that is I’m not out shopping for a couple hours a few times a week like many people I know. Just browsing.

    When I went to a mom to mom sale the other day I had three lists and 3 Trader Joe bags ready to fill. I saw a friend there who was just browsing looking for some boots for her daughter. I couldn’t wrap my head around that as I don’t have time to just browse for boots.

    I know moms who get their hair done their nails done and like to shop for clothes. Whether it’s their selves or their loved ones. I just don’t have time or like to do those things. That’s not condemning other moms that’s just going back to how I spend my 24 hours.
    I love your illustration of the circles. I sum it up as we like to have a “We time ” instead of “me time” . And kind of what you’re saying with the circles is the same thing. Every day my main focus and goal as cleaning ,feeding and educating my children and being a good wife and mother. Also a good Christian in my case.
    It does make me so uncomfortable when people say oh I can’t believe that. It’s very hard. You almost feel isolated. People think that you have a Ton of friends and know many people because you have a large family. They don’t realize that children are a burden to most of society. So you don’t make friends. People go about their lives, their extracurricular activities, their business and you’re kind of at home with your kids. I love my life but it can be isolating. Definitely not ” bow worthy” and like you said they see what you do you do in 24 hours. Not what you don’t get it. I know people who have immaculately clean houses that would not be mine. I know people who are able to buy nice furniture that wouldn’t be us. I know people who belong to about five different activities in their church that wouldn’t be us. I know people who have their kids in 4 sports and are constantly on the go that’s not us. I tend to think we live a pretty simple life but a very enriched life. It’s all consuming but it’s all good.

  3. Johanne

    Thank you for this Vero. As a mom of nine, I personally find it very heavy when I am put on a pedestal, or when attention is drawn on me on the basis of how many kids I have. Yes, I am a mom, but I am also an individual who likes to be recognized for who she is. Not a breastfeeding mom or a uterus on feet, or an adoption ”specialist”, or lately, a ”mom with special needs children”.

  4. Jill Swedersky

    Love this one, Veronique! Nous avons toujours besoin de se rappeler que nos vies ne se ressemblent pas…alors se comparer est inutile!

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