Wednesday, March 28, 2007
the paloma circa 2004 @ 14 mos
the porkchop circa 2006 @ 9 mos
sometimes, the thin man and i marvel at the paloma and the porkchop - about how quickly she started talking and how quickly he started walking... and now, i'm actually beginning to worry that they're getting that... spunk?... moxie?... gumption?... egads, aggression?... from me.
yesterday morning, i read a post called "transformations" over at chicago chick (who btw - is getting her family ready for the sale of their current condo and eventually the move into their new house, while weathering the plagues of financial hemorraging, physical torture and mental distress. hang in there, girl!).
anyway, in her post, she wrote something that has been on my mind ever since i read it:
"Yesterday I asked David if he loved me and he said that he loved me more lately. Of course I asked "Whaddaya mean LATELY?". His response was that he loved me more since I decided to become part of his marriage. Huh? He went on to explain that I am so independent that at times he didn't think I was his better half..... Maybe I'm mellowing out or maybe I'm just too tired to go the remainder of my life alone, but he's right. I am very independent and it will probably never change but I have learned to rely on him more."
coincidentally, i've been thinking a lot about my own independence (or lack thereof) and i just happened to flip thru a book of daily inspirations for the year (i've also been feeling a little uninspired as of late) and today, march 28, is devoted to "cultivating a self assured attitude". it says:
"....Self-assurance is an attitude that assumes you will always get what you need and that at this moment you are in the process of getting it. Self assurance assumes that others are available and want to help and that you don't have to do it all by yourself..... When a woman is too confident and independent, it is sometimes a sign that she is not at all sure that others are there for her, and so she has to do it all herself...."
of course, when i read this i had a "yeah. no sh*t, sherlock." moment. but, then it hit me. i am really not as self assured as i think i am. i'm not as self assured as i used to be, even a year ago. sometimes, i think with each passing day, that i am becoming less and less self assured.
honestly, i've never assumed that i would always get what i needed. and i rarely feel that i am in the process of getting what i need.
i know intellectually that there are friends and family and sometimes even complete strangers who make themselves available to me for help. but i ALWAYS feel like i have to do it all by myself. i NEED to do things by myself. and i do this for two reasons 1) i don't want to feel like i owe anyone anything (even if it's a pair of marshmallow peeps). 2) i don't want to appear weak or inferior or disabled (looking the way i do, it's almost a given, as in - ("she MUST be disabled, just look at her").
as a child, i wanted to grow up fast for my mom. she never asked me to do so but i just knew, it was hard for her to be a single mom, to make enough money to keep us fed, clothed and sheltered. it was difficult for her to work so often and so dilligently and know that i almost always came home to an empty house. life was always especially tough when i got sick or when i was due for another operation. my mother used to scold me all time for trying to do everything too quickly and certainly before i was old enough to learn, or rather, NEEDED to learn life/survival skills that she, as an adult, took for granted. i didn't want her to think that i was "behind" the average child my age. i needed to show her that she wouldn't always have to look after me.
eventually, as a single adult, i fashioned a life for myself. and i mean "fashioned" in the truest sense. i dreamt it up and meticulously designed it. drafted the pattern. shopped for the finest materials and notions to lovingly create it - cut it out, sewed it up, made some alterations - and it fit me like a glove. and to the general public, it probably looked like most "haute couture" garments - unwearable, confining, impractical, eccentric, maybe even a little fugly. but it was my life. and it sounds weird, but i especially felt like i had finally released my mom from her responsiblities re: me. i was finally and happily the only one responsible for me.
everywhere i had lived, i had always made sure that i could live there on my terms. at the very least, i (as a single asian female) had to live somewhere that was within my means, relatively safe, had public transit and/or the random taxi nearby and a grocery store within walking distance.
now, i'm married and a mother and i've taken on the responsibilities of caring for three other precious lives outside of my own. and almost every other day, i feel like i've failed one of them, if not all of them. a few days ago, i told the thin man that recently i started feeling like i was working retail again. i feel that same obligation i felt at former mcjobs to always smile when customers were nearby. i don't want to feel this way around my family or friends. i find myself feeling isolated both physically and emotionally (which isn't really a stretch for someone as antisocial/shy as me but it's been BAD lately).
when we moved to our house and this neighborhood, it fit the above criteria - pretty much. but with time i realized the harsh reality is this:
i'm living in a house that although it is BEAUTIFUL is way too big for me to care for and by virtue of its age will probably always need something fixed or replaced or installed. our neighborhood, one of the handful of chicago "cop and firemen" neighborhoods, is very safe but because of it's troubled racial history feels strangely unpredictable and volatile to me. although i live close to the commuter train stop, i am at the mercy of the train's (sometimes hourly) schedule (not to mention, two dueling toddler nap schedules and the short, easily tired legs of a four year old). although we live in chicago, taxi cabs (and they are legion, prowling like sharks for chum) do not wander aimlessly this far south. we live very close to a really great local organic grocer but it doesn't stock EVERY SINGLE THING i need. a grocery run might actually include separate trips to the drugstore, the liquor store and the italian deli - which wouldn't be so bad if they weren't all located at the furthest corners of the neighborhood. and it's just plain hard to get groceries in the height of a midwestern subzero winter (or even an extra hot and humid summer) with two children.
as a stay at home mom to two children, it's no surprise that i should feel confined to my home. but as a stay at home mom who doesn't drive (literally scared sh*tless to drive & bad eyesight), i'm also confined to the perimeters of our neighborhood (but, i can only visit the same places a few times a week before i start to look like a would be mrs. robinson to all the would be benjamin braddocks' at the local borders bookstore and i can only buy so much yarn and knit a handful of projects before i start to resemble a reluctant bachelorette stereotype...)
so the bottom line is i'm left to rely on others pretty much ALL THE TIME. i have little to no independence of my own. i rely on the thin man or family or friends for errands i cannot complete. if neither the thin man nor i can get groceries, i rely on peapod to deliver. sometimes, we find that we don't have any fixings for a good dinner and so we have to order it up - there are very few restaurants in the neighborhood. and many of them don't deliver. although we have met with pediatricians down here, i make the majority of our ped appts with our northside office (who know our histories) and only on weekends, when the thin man's schedule can accomodate us. occasionally, i rely on neighbors to drive the paloma to school when the weather is too brutal to drag the porkchop out on the walk to and from preschool (twice). any other kind of retail shopping (therapy) or diversionary gallivanting has to be done in a neighboring south suburb or on the north side (which is infinitely prettier) and, if being done with children, needs the use of a car. and have ya seen the dan ryan expressway recently?
realistically, we can't move. we really can't afford to move anywhere else and where else COULD we move? this neighborhood, with its great schools, parks, inexpensive, abundant and architecturally diverse housing, fellow cool & hip transplanted neighbors is really perfect for a young family like ours. i know this intellectually. but emotionally, i am completely torn up about it. i have never in my life felt so useless, so worthless, so powerless... like i so often do now. i worry about how this is affecting my overall mental and physical health, each unique relationship i have - with my husband, my children, my family members and friends...
all of which makes for a very very unhappy, very uncertain mamazilla.