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I Am... Mama and Writer

First Mama.  Then Writer.  Though, of late, the latter has consumed a great deal of time as I work to get things in order to potentially be ...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

On Perpetuating the Mythical "Strong Woman"

Yesterday, a good fella with whom I was having a conversation said something like (not a direct quote, but as close as I can remember), "I know you're a strong woman.  You are very strong woman, but in some of your Facebook posts it seems like maybe you're not so strong."  I believe this good guy was rather shocked when I responded (basically), "GOOD!  I'm not a perfectly strong woman!  I'm perfectly human and fully of opposites.  I'm strong AND weak!"  This good fella seemed totally taken aback by this admission of my reality... and, possibly, my calm acceptance of it.

And here's the thing: if I strive to perpetuate the unrealistic and unattainable perspective that he conveyed of one half of me, then I make my own life miserable (because that part is only a part and not perfectly attainable through 100% of my life) as well as the lives of any and all the women that others might try to stand up next to the measure they have created out of the flat "Strong Woman" Tori....  Is that part (strong woman tori) a figment of their imagination?  Well, I can't say FOR SURE because I don't know exactly how they perceive me.  But I can say that I do know I am both a strong woman and a weak woman.  I am a woman of Faith who struggles against fear.  I am a binary; as God created me.  I believe we are all created this way so that we would necessarily struggle in this fallen world and, hopefully, in the midst of those stuggles (and potentially because of them), come to Him and become God's Girl (or Guy) ever more completely.

Let's de-stress my sistahs (and brothers) and be real.  Set goals for improvement, but reject the ideas and perceptions of perfection in all things.  We can improve and even reach perfection in small areas.  But this life is for progress, not BEing perfect.  It's for becoming perfectED in Him who made and saved us; if we would but accept His saving and our crosses.

So, all this brings me to another mythological creature.  I'm thinking specifically of the unicorn.  Did you know that there are nine seperate verses that mention the "unicorn" in the Bible?  It's true.  If you are not a man or woman of Faith, I hope that you would at least acknoweldge the Bible as a pretty apt representation of much of History.  So, what... is a unicorn completely fake?  I mean, it's mentioned in the record of the Bible, for crying out loud.  So, what has happened??

Interpretations, my friends.  Interpretation has happened.  Yes, of course, interpretation in the way we interpret one language to another - obviously that has happened.  But what I'm referring to is the loss of information from a past generation to a present one and then interpretation by current understanding of the past, has happened.  And so, a modern-day reader could easily read the nine verses that mention "unicorn" and chalk it up to another example of how the Bible really cannot be absolutely true because "everyone" knows there is no such thing as a unicorn.

So, let's say, for the purpose of this conversation, that the fact of "unicorn," as mentioned in the Bible, is absolutely real and actually IS, in fact, a fact.  Let's say that through interpreting the Bible from one language to another and then another the word to describe one animal (like a family relation of an ox, let's say) has become something else (namely a unicorn, which name implies a one-horned animal of some sort).  So, because of word choice, perceptions have been drastically influenced so that people believe that what was described in the Bible as unicorn is super far from what was intended by the interpreters of languages in the translation and inherent description.  Maybe the interpreters meant uni to refer to the unique position of this animal as almost extinct (maybe there was only one left alive when that particular translation began).  And corn was actually referring to the food the animal preferred.  Anyway... it could be whatever, really.  Doesn't matter.

What matters is that the reality has been skewed.  There was a specific intent which has been mis-shaped by time and interpretation.

What is my point?  My point is that there is another imaginary creature, like unto the unicorn of the Bible.  She actually exists, but not as described and (aparently, from my conversation with that good guy) not as expected.  Now, I'm going to begin a description of this creature, but I would REALLY like some help.  If I miss anything, or my description is not outlandish or extreme enough, please correct me and add to my description with anything you have encountered as a part of this mythical creature who does not and cannot exist.

The Strong Woman Mythical Creature

The Strong Woman  is able to deep clean her home while dressed to the nines, looking shower fresh even though the temperature in her UNairconditioned home in well above the 90's of outside temps.

She is able to keep her 200 sqaure foot garden and 5 acre lawn well-manicured, her 3500 square-foot home immaculate, while also making sure to sit with each of her 12 homeschooled children for at least 45 minutes each, each and every day.

She prepares three made-from-scratch meals and at least two snacks and two desserts and makes sure her children enjoy all of their food.

She is concerned that her children are well-nourished, so she purchases and/or barters to provide only biodynamic or organic (if necessary she will compromise and use organic) foods.  She avoids all GMOs, pesticides, BPAs, and anything else potentially detrimental to the well-being of her family.

She makes all cookies, pies, bread, pizza crusts, et al FROM SCRATCH on an as-needed basis.  Yes, frequently this DOES mean daily.

She excercises five days per week and maintains a svelt size 6 pants size, but she only ever wears skirts and dresses (size 5).

She gave up chocolate during her first pregnancy on the off chance that it could make things more difficult for her and/or her baby, and hasn't purposefully had a bite of it since (that was 15 years ago, and she doesn't think about it daily, either).

She never has a laundry back-up because her system is infallible: she washes clothes daily and folds them immediately after they have finished drying.  She never fails.

She irons her husband's work clothes.  He works as a mechanic.  The clothes come home greasey and grungy, but when he puts them on, they look brand-new.  Every. day. no. matter. what.

When trials come knocking on her door, she sinks gracefully to her knees (every single time), and rises renewed and able to face everythat that comes at her (still dressed to the nines, looking shower-fresh, and with a angelic smile on her face through it all).

When she cries, her mascara never smears, her nose never EVER runs, she magically has a spotless white linen hankerchief in her hand with which she delicately daps at the corner of her eye - for that is the only part of her that leaks as she cries, doncha know.


Okay, so... I'm starting to feel ill.  I mean... seriously.  SERIOUSLY!?!?

But this is what the "Strong Woman" is and does and just generally WHO she is... isn't it?  This is definitely the kind of pressure I have felt from others who look at me as if I am this mythical creature.  Here's a news flash for ya:

I am NOT anywhere NEAR the above described mythical creatre: "Strong Woman!"
I AM HUMAN.  I am FALLIBLE.  I am a mixture of dark and light, good and bad, strong and weak, faith and fear.  I strive to feed only the good, light, strong parts of me, but I fail regularly.  I am not a failure... I simply fail regularly... I am Tori.  Tori I am.

And so, for comparison purposes, I'm going to illustrate who I believe a real strong woman is... by describing who I believe I am.  Because a REAL strong woman is one who has both sides of reality contained in herself.  If you have some input you would like me to add to this list, I will happily do so.  AND if you want, I'll put your name in parenthesis with a link to YOUR blog so you can expound upon this subject there (or just get more traffic), if you so desire.  Just let me know!  ^_^

WHO I AM and/or HAVE been:

I know I am first (and foremost) a daughter of Heavenly Parents.  So, I have divine potential, a divine birthright, and a life of purpose to live.

I was born a daughter... I was rather disobedient and very mouthy at an early age.  I have always been head-strong and usually an independent thinker (read between the lines to find again: disobedient and mouthy).

I became a sister before I was two-years-old.  I don't know what kind of sister I was, generally, to that brother at such a tender age... but I know sometime soon after he was born my Mom was on the phone in another room, he was crying and (knowing who I became as an older sister) I probably got pretty peeved at the thing that wouldn't stop making loud noises... so I picked him up (HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT I SHOULD not PICK HIM UP AROUND HIS NECK!!?  I was TWO for cryin' out loud) and brought him to my Mom.  So, I believe one should interpret from this that I have always been service minded.  I knew the crying thing wanted Mama - so I made it happen.  HA!  ^_^

As an older sister I was in charge, sure of myself, and continued to be head-strong.  To interpret: I was bossy, mouthy, disobedient and pretty unkind.

When I became a student, these traits continued, though I put them in the trunk and locked it while at school (for the most part).  Took 'em right back out to shove in the faces of my parents and siblings when I got home, though, I tell ya.

Oh, and did I mention: my room was a MESS when I was a kid!??  yes.  YES IT WAS.

Fast Forward

I became a Wife and soon thereafter a Mother.  Didn't know much about these roles - except for what I saw... and so I did that - interpreted, of course.

I kept stuff (still do).  And not always in an orderly fashion.

I try to keep EVERYthing super clean and end up with most things somewhat clean.

I want to make fresh bread as needed (and have done so when I feel together and with it), but mostly we buy pre-made bread at the cheapest price I can.

I cannot stand make-up.  I think it's nasty vile stuff - almost all of it.  And i feel like wearing it is somehow saying that I'm just NOT enough as myself.  I'm not cute enough... I'm not pretty enough... I'm just NOT enough.  And I just frankly prefer to avoid sending that message about me to myself (or anyone around me, for that matter).  So, I don't wear that chemical laden crap... as a result, I never look like I'm dressed to the nines... even if my clothes are nicer than what I normally wear.

I normally wear clothing that is functional and (most importantly) comfortable.  I refuse to be identified by my outward characteristics (HA!) and especially those that are added to the form I have created of myself.

I am NO WHERE NEAR a size 5 OR 6.  I'm somewhere closer to a 22, actually... truth be told.  I do not excercise daily.  Actually, the last time I did that was... oh... about 6 months ago.  I want to.  I mean to.  But focusing on other things (like this blog post), which are more do-able to and for me is much more appealing.  And who doesn't like to feel successful!?  (Actually, to be completely honest, I would REALLY like to start exercising RIGHT NOW, but I'm having a specific physical problem that requires that I do not... so I'm put on the bench for a lil' while longer because of circumstances out of my control.)

I don't think I've ever successfully deep cleaned my whole home at once.  I do bits and pieces... well, I try.

Now, my laundry is often completely... washed.  I often have a couple baskets that need to be folded... but at least is is usually not piled up on the dirty end of the task!  :)

I do try to prepare nourishing meals.  Cannot afford organic everything... don't even know where to source biodynamic stuff  'round here... I'm sure I couldn't afford it if I COULD find it.

I do try to avoid GMOs, pesticides, BPAs, and anything else potentially detrimental to the well-being of my family - but given our financial restrictions, it just isn't always possible to avoid all the bad stuff I know about.

I do actually live in an UNair conditioned home.  But I sweat.  "Never let 'em see you sweat" is a drug pusher's motto.  They want you to believe that to be a lady your body should do other than it is designed to do... they want you to believe that you need that crud full of aluminum under your arms so that you'll get sick faster: Alzheimers, anyone?   I refuse to put that crud under my arms (do you KNOW how much stuff your skin absorbs into your blood stream!???!).

I avoid ironing.  Rarely break the iron and board out.  Cannot remember ever ironing anything Jessie wears.  See... by comparison to the mythical creature, I'm a horrible wife and mother already!

My garden and lawn (much smaller than the above woman's) is NOT well-manicured and my home is never immaculate. Though I do homeschool, I only have three "doing" school and I don't usually have to sit with them.  Tea: yes, the others, not so much.

I heard whispers and directions of the Holy Spirit from as far back as my first pregnancy that I should give up chocolate.  I did not.  It took me until January 2011 to do so.  I have not purposefully eaten chocolate since... but I have wanted to on a regular (if not daily) basis.

When trials come a-knockin' on my door I have only successfully fallen in a lump on my knees immediately a few times.  Even when I have done this correct behavior, I have arisen still feeling wounded, tired, broken, battered, and unsure of myself and (sometimes) the constitution of my life (read: wondering if I would've just made better choices ___ many years ago, would I be in a much better place now, sort of thinking).  When I am beset by the more troubling trials (like problems with Jessie or the really tough physical problems), I count myself successful to GET dressed, TAKE a shower, and get my hair brushed (no necessarily in that order).  I rarely smile convicingly when dealing with the more troubling trials.  I'm not the epitomy of Ms. Wilcox's poem: "Worthwhile."  I'm just not.  Wanna be, but not there.  I am sorry for this lack.  But I'm....  wait for it... HUMAN!

And as for crying.  Well, I can sometimes get away with crying in a sort of acceptible manner.  But I promise you, you simply do not ever want to see me cry a full-on ugly-tori-cry.  You just don't.  All illusions of me as any sort of Strong Woman would simply vanish.  So, I guess, if you'd like to really know me, be there to see my ugly-cry.  You'll reveal yourself, too... I promise.  :)


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