Monday, March 22, 2010

The Power Within...or Settling for Store-Bought Eggs

Last Thursday morning, son #2 was bouncing around the living room, relishing the attention of both parents after his big brother left for kindergarten. He announced, "I a Alligator!" and threw himself face first between the armchair and the ottoman, wrenching both shoulders and smacking his chin on the floor. He let a mighty, non-reptilian wail and ran to me, gathering his pacifier and security blanket on the way.

"Wow," said my husband, "Getting out all the big guns."

That, my friends, is true power. Being able to soothe and comfort another living being (with a little help from laytex and polarfleece), just using your own maternal energy. Job #1 for me, these days, is chasing around two boys and, apparently, I'm doing alright.

I'm still thinking about the Goddess thing. Jenn's comment coupled with an NYT Sunday Magazine article, "The Femivore's Dilemma," a few weeks ago about stay-at-home moms who raise chickens
, and the fantastic discussion last week made me wonder why can't empowerment come from within.

Why are we (yes--first person--I'm as guilty of this as the next mother hen) seduced with the idea of being super-woman, invincible, divine? Guys are sold the "happiness thru toys" message, while women are targeted with the "happiness thru self-improvement" meme. By choosing language such as goddess, we put the bar so high we are constantly falling short, berating ourselves for not working hard enough, not changing enough lives, not having pretty enough hair. Not tending a chicken coop and educating the children. Yeah, I know goddess is just a word, but words are very powerful things and we should be able to come up with something as compelling but more reasonable.

Why can't we revel in the powers we do
have: to teach, to construct, to write, to create, to nurture, etc etc. Celebrate the already existing and build on that, rather than strive for something with high-disappointment potential. I'm not saying we shouldn't have ambition or challenge ourselves, but I just don't understand the need for such impossible standards.

Again--this rant is directed at me as much as anyone else. That's why Jenn's comment was so sweet and common-sense, and why the chicken article bugged me--take pride in what you do do, instead of cooking up some additional tasks that just wear you out and down. You are still a valuable individual, even if you have a short to-do list (and keeping that list short requires serious strength!).

So, yeah, ix-nay on the oddess-gay. I'm open to suggestions for better terms, but I'm ready to retire this one. Luckily I have a source for local eggs...cluck, cluck.


Jenn said...

Go Brenda go!

I think it's so easy to compare ourselves to other women assuming we are not living up to some standard that they are. I think I really had to come to terms with this all when I quit working full time to teach yoga part time and be Mom full time.

When I worked I had an excuse if the toilet wasn't scrubbed or there were dirty dishes in the sink. As a mostly SAHM I felt doing those things WERE my job and so for the first several weeks after the transition I tried to do it all...teach class, be mom to a 5 month old all day, a 4 year old when she wasn't in pre-school, cook every meal, keep a perfectly clean and organized other words be the
"perfect" SAHM and wife...or at least what I thought was the perfect picture. I was tired all the time. And CRANKY. I felt bad that apparently I didn't have what it "takes" to be a full time Mom. I about when CRAZY.

That's when i decided I needed to be OK with doing (or not doing) what I needed to be healthy and happy. After all that was WHY I decided to make the change in the first place. To find BALANCE. With that decision came power and confidence. Confidence that came from within that is so much more powerful than any affirmation from some external source. More powerful than a label/word that can give the appearance of confidence when even if it is not actually present. Only I can know what makes me the best at being me...and I don't need a word to provide a label for that.

My only disagreement...I would actually like to have some chickens laying eggs in my backyard. It reminds me of when I was a kid and I had to go "pick the eggs." My Mom loved her least until she cut their little heads off to become soup. It would be nice to bring a little of my farm background into my urban yard...without the head chopping :)

Ejiro Oteri said...

That was a powerful one, I totally agree with empowerment coming from within. I guess the truth of it is till we as women are willing to look inside ourselves and accept and celebrate what resides within us, we would keep looking to words like goddess and good hair to define us. Please keep em coming, i'm inspired.

Linda-Sama said...

personally I've always liked the phrase "hellcat" to describe myself.....;) :)

Brooks Hall said...

Hi Brenda,
In my sense of things, Goddess is a spiritual concept, and what it sounds like you are wrestling with is some kind of striving for perfection through unhealthy comparison. When we beat ourselves up because we think we are not good enough in the face of an unattainable ideal is not a helpful situation--for sure! But to deny ourselves a connection with a spiritual energy in favor of a life-sense that is purely aligned with material, what-I-see-is-what-it-is sensibility is missing a potential in experience, I think. And I don't think that I'm talking about a fantasy it's more of an acknowledgement of the wonder and awe present in our actual situation.

I want to honor your soothing mommy experience--very cool and amazing. Maybe you are a Goddess here! Why resist? We all come from a lineage of mothers that gave birth to all the people who have made our world what it is for us. So your comforting powers came from somewhere (I hope it's okay to stay with your story as the example.). A mother gave birth to you just the way your son was born, from a mother! Our comforting powers are passed from generation to generation, the Goddess energy is a part of this compassion and care that existed before us and will carry on after.

Of course you can call it other things, but I like the connection with creation, birth, nurturing and caring as a cosmic metaphor. Goddess energy can move through us.

Brenda P. said...

Somehow I missed a paragraph extolling yoga's ability to help us get away from comparing and belittling. But you all know I meant that, right?

@Jenn&Ejiro-exactly, I am working on the very same thing!

@L-S: of course you do...Yoga Hellcat's Workshops. I'm imagining the potential tattoo...

@Brooks--I see your point, but I'm mostly talking about using Goddess as a secular term. I'm not crazy about it as a spiritual term, either. For me, it is way too evocative, and I prefer my terminology vague, like "energy" or "spirit". Any whiff of organized religion makes me squirm.

Like you said, you can call "it" other things and, since it's the word itself that I think is overused, that's why I'm fishing for options. Thanks for your thoughts.

La Gitane said...

Brenda, if it makes you feel any better... Chickens are noisy, demanding, petty and thoroughly cranky creatures. Plus they leave poo and feathers everywhere!!!

Just like goddesses... it's our IDEA that being a woman who raises chickens will make life more perfect that is unattainable. The chickens themselves don't hold such high standards. :)

Brooks Hall said...

Ahem. I'm not sure where the "whiff of organized religion" part of your response came from. Color me offended. I don't feel respectfully heard, here. I feel dismissed. Just thought you might be interested, based on your recent posts...

Brenda P. said...

Brooks, I'm sorry if I made you feel dismissed. That certainly wasn't my intention.

I probably misunderstood your comment but maybe that comes from the use of the term Goddess. To me it invokes a deity of some sort and suggests a connection to a religious hierarchy. Maybe not "organized religion", per se, but still something sort of ephemeral and out-of-reach.

Rereading your comment, I think I better understand what you are getting at, especially in reference to a cosmic cycle, but I'm still not comfortable with the terminology. It brings a lot of extraneous images to my mind that you obviously didn't intend.

I'm glad you spoke up, so I could take another look at our exchange. I appreciate your perspective and I think you're right about unhealthy striving...a dangerous trap.

Thanks for taking the time to comment and please let me know if I'm still missing the point...