Staking Our Claim, Learning to Ask

Wow, you ladies really did yourselves justice with all those heartfelt comments. I wanted to respond to every one, but it’s that or write another post with my few moments. So, like a true posting junkie, here I go.

I surely didn’t mean that we should feel guilty for carving out our own place. A completely self-less mama is not any kind of goal. And guilt ain’t no good anyways.

I don’t think it’s our responsibility to be ever-present and ever-delightful. I do think it’s our responsibility to try and try and try some more to find that balance between our Selves and our Mama-ness. I think it’s my responsibility to be thoughtful and creative and try to figure out what exactly I need in order to be the best mama I can be, and then take steps to make it happen.

For example, I know some mamas who need to get daily physical excersize to be able to keep their shit together. Myself, I need daily time for mental contemplation, brain excersize. Which is exactly the thing I get angsty for. It seems almost backwards, but if I get the thing that I need, even in relatively small quantities, I won’t go crazy for the thing I want, even though it’s the same thing. If that makes any sense.

In order to be selfless, we have to be self-full. It’s almost a cliche, right? The times I get into the worst bitch-mom mode are the times I have let stuff slide and slide, and neglected to stake my claim for too long. Then I snap and ain’t nobody happy.

But I do think I need to keep it all in perspective. I can get really wrapped up in MeMeMeMe, and forget that there are two other whole souls rafting around with me, who have no choice but to follow.

Note to Self:

Figure out what you need, separate from what you want. Do your absolute best to make sure that you get what you need. Don’t let the evil Martyr Mom chain you to a life of slavery. Be brave. Stake your claim. Ask for what you need.

Then take your full-self and turn it outward towards your family.

For me asking is really, really, really hard. I just want to be the I-can-do-everything mama. I see this in many of us revolutionary housewives. We want to think we can do it All. We think women of the past did, so why shouldn’t we?

Because women of the past had aunties and grandpas and cousins and a whole integral society set up for doing what we are trying to do in our tiny island way. Let’s give us a break. Give your kids a break by not expecting yourself to do it All. And by you, I mean me.

But also, I keep thinking that if I offer up all the things to my mate that I want, he’ll just catch a clue and start giving them back, unasked. Advice to women: Men need asking.

[I hate to get into any sexist realm here. I’m not the sort of woman who secretly (or patently) thinks women are Better. I perhaps used to be, but having partnered with a woman for almost eight years will drive that silly thought right out of your mind.

Women are infuriating.

And so are men.

Sharing your life with someone year after year, giving them your whole heart, is almost as challenging as parenting! And just as incredibly rewarding.]

It’s not fair to your mate to expect them to read your mind. Or even read between the lines of your actions. Particularly if your mate is a man. Men have other strengths. Be brave and ask for what you need and want.

A. S. K.

This is my task now.

To whomever it may concern:

Please grant me the clarity to see what I need, and the courage to ask for it.

7 thoughts on “Staking Our Claim, Learning to Ask

  1. i think seeing what you need is one of the hardest things, especially when we get so stressed and tapped out we’re like origami-pretzel-raisins – you can feel like a bundle of angry or resentful or failure or whatever, and if you can’t put your finger on what you feel, it’s just not possible to get to why or what you need to feel better/solve your problem. (hm. sounds suspisciously like what a toddler experiences…)

    i never had a problem with this till i did, and then it took me years to recognise it (accidentally) and start fixing it. i saw some tv show on, i think, menopause and women using it as a time and space for change and positive growth or something, and one woman had this thing where she’d ask herself ‘how do you feel? what do you need?’ over and over till she was empty of responses.

    i started trying this, and at first i hated the mr rogers-ness of it all. but i noticed that after a crap day when all i wanted to do was not-think (loud music or news or tv or equivalent), when i forced myself to sit quiet and not turn anything on and play ‘how do you feel what do you need’ it really helped. and eventually i got better at doing it on the fly some of the time, and not needing quiet-alone to do it. although quiet-alone is the answer to ‘what do you need’ a fair bit of the time =).

  2. I’m such a chickenshit when it comes to asking for a little me time. My fella works away, so when he’s home we really only get about 6 days as a family before he leaves again, and I get all bound up with the guilt of having some time alone that I usually go months before doing the Great Exploding Woman impersonation and telling him that I need some time to myself. So yeah, count me in as another who needs to just ask.

    And it is really so simple. My man loves me, he’d do anything I asked, I just have to do the asking, really. And I don’t mean to sound up-myself. He’s like all our men, he’s found his woman that he loves. I guess that’s the point huh – if we know our man loves us, why are we so afraid to ask for the one thing we need – time ? Silly huh?

  3. Just found your blog …. but I had to comment on this now old post.
    You’re reading my mind! You’re living in my head, and then posting about it…. thanks so much for reminding me! I too tend to give, give, give, care, care, care, and then break — because I forgot to give myself a break and take care of ME!
    And it gets worse when you’re used to the kids having been in school all day so you can do your stuff, and suddenly, there they are — home, and in your face wanting attention and activities ALL DAY!
    Who knew those hours in the house alone were so vital to my sanity?
    (I’ll watch for brilliant hints that don’t cost money to get them OUT of the house without me for awhile)

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