Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Servitude and Self

Herself speaks.

This is an absolutely magnificent piece of writing:

It encapsulates so much of the quintessential struggle: the perpetual dance to balance family, work, self.

And in this era of competitive self-effacing motherhood (and by association, wifehood), it boldly proclaims the true need for more:

"I found myself, as I crammed my thighs into my shapewear, saying, “Oh, well, I love my husband, he is the perfect man for me and it was love at first sight, but I would never willingly enter into this state of servitude again.”

"I had not known that I felt that way until I said it. It frightened me that I said it. That night at the party, I kept thinking about it, and on the flight home, I kept thinking about it, and no matter how I looked at that phrase I couldn’t make it any less true."

Yes. That. We have an eternal, visceral love for husband and children; we would, without hesitation, make any and all sacrifices for them; and nevertheless, during the mundane, quotidian activities, we struggle with our personal goals and dreams. It is daily, tremendous, internal tug-of-war, in which we run the risk of disappearing from ourselves. 

There is the spectre of invisibility:

"My job when I am with my children is to have as few needs as possible so that I can meet theirs.... It is my job to be invisible to him.There are other ways too in which I am invisible. I often feel that the work I do around the house is the work of an invisible person."

We are the house elves of the world, tending to all of the little things, out of sight of those who benefit most from our silent unseen activities.

The author further mulls over the conflict between the need to care for others, and the need to pursue one's passions: 

"I will say this: it is probably easier to be an artist and an asshole. It is probably easier to get the time you need to work if you don’t care how it affects the people around you. It is easier to focus on achieving one thing than achieving two things."

It is contrary to our invisible tasks of love, to shine the spotlight on ourselves and what we want for ourselves. And yet, perhaps motherhood/family and pursuing one's creative passions are not, in the end, exclusive. We can try. The greatest challenge is keeping oneself whole, in the midst of it all. 

"There is no surer way to locate your self, if you have misplaced her for a moment, than to ask yourself what you want."

If you have the time, I recommend that you read the whole article. It is magnificent. In the meanwhile, I will be asking myself: "what do I want?"

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