Friday, October 24, 2008

Where have all the cowgirls gone?

I have this feeling this post is going to annoy some people. Okay, lots of people. Fine, just about everyone I know. Oh well, who needs friends? (I do. Really, I do. I just think certain things really do need to be said.) I also want to assure you that this topic has been on my mind for a very long time (like several years now), and I have had many conversations with my mom and husband about it during that time, and although recent conversations, debate, and events have brought it to the forefront of my mind--this is in no way directed at anyone in particular. It's just an amalgam of bits and pieces I've seen while roving the net.

I'm further aware that this post will probably also get me labeled with the one of the most despised epithets a LDS woman could receive. Feminist. So, let me be clear and say I'm not a feminist of the bra-burning, man-hating, Hillary-supporting, sort. Not remotely.
As I've stated before, I'm a big believer in the innate differences between men and women, and I'm totally okay with having gender roles defined loosely by society. I like it that way. I love being a mom and a girl, and weaseling out of pumping gas by pretending it's overly complicated. I am the one in the house who learned how to work the DVR first, however. The family is the central unit of society and messing with that principle hasn't brought us anything but bad. Gender is a huge part of that unit, and my life.
I wrote a while back about the disturbing trend that the new "holier than thou" is "busier than thou." Lately, I've noticed as I peruse Mommyblogs of friends and acquaintances, and friends of friends (geez, get me a life!), that at least in the LDS blogging world, it seems that the even newer "holier than thou" is "more helpless than thou." I'm not talking about people who state that they love their husbands and enumerate their good qualities on occasion--heaven knows if I didn't put that I love Daniel and he is wonderful before I make a post about some lame argument we got into, he wouldn't be speaking to me anymore for bashing him on the www. There is absolutely nothing wrong with loving your husband and thinking he's the best. I hope you do think he's the best, because you married him!
But loving your spouse or being publicly grateful for him is not what I'm talking about here. Sure, it can be a little hard to take after a while (he's wonderful, and never ever leaves dirty socks on your side of the bed, I get it, rub it in some more why don't you!), but more power to you.
I'm talking about posts that are so over the top disgusting, and seem to be composed only for the purpose showing your friends that your marriage is awesomer than theirs, and you know you've seen them...
"Today I took the kids to the store. Daniel went with me because I absolutely can not shop by myself. I get so lost and end up crying in the cereal aisle because I don't know whether to buy Marshmallow Mateys or spring for the Lucky Charms. Of course, he always tells me to spring for the name brand because he works 4 jobs on top of Medical school to pay for the name brand, and he is just the awesomest husband ever. When we got home, he unpacked all the groceries while breastfeeding the baby because he figured out a way to alter his DNA so he can help me out with that too!!!! O.M.Gosh! What a catch! After the kids went to sleep (and he read them the story, of course), he took 20 minutes in the bathroom and I thought I was going to DIE because he wasn't there!!! It's like he's my oxygen and I will choke to death without him. Every waking moment before he comes home from work is pure torture the kids and I have to suffer through. If I didn't have Daniel I would be a puddle of tears on the bathroom floor unable to eat or breathe or go to the bathroom on my own..."
I exaggerate, but only slightly. On top of being like some insidious Christmas brag letter that shows up 365 days a year, the content worries me. For one, it is not possible for men to breastfeed, because I would be all over that and slipping pills into Daniel's dinner if the technology were out there. Mostly though, seriously, ladies, when did being a pathetic damsel in distress become cool? Why is it that the less you state you are capable of doing without your better half, the better wife/mother/blogger you are?
We are the descendants of pioneer women! Rosie the riveter was only two generations ago! Where are all the cowgirls who can take care of themselves if they have to? When did "we can do it!" get changed to "only he can do it, but I'll be the cheering section?"
I blame the Twilight books for this. I love the (first three) books, but I think Bella is a whiner of epic proportions who has completely glamorized the weak woman falling into absolute pieces without her man right by her side to save her. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, while it's a good lose yourself story, but not the kind of character anyone should want to emulate. But so many of us do. We want to write the kind of romantic devotional passages that capture the obsessive captivation of a teenage first-love.
Hello, reality check! We are not teenagers anymore, and we have responsibillities. Very small people look up to us and we are making a competition out of being utterly helpless. What is up with that? Last time I checked, the adage was "Stand by your Man," not "huddle nervously, rocking back and forth at the feet of your man."
Token disclaimer: I do love my husband. I don't want to think about life without him, and we really do miss him when he's gone, but you already know that, because I've said it before. I don't feel the need to re-list his good qualities to prove my love for him before I say this next part.

Daniel and I are a team. A set, if you will. He brings strengths into the marriage and is the head of our family, but I bring strengths too. We are both strong individuals that become an unstoppable rebel force when united! We are not halves of a whole that can not function alone, we are two wholes that combined are greater than the sum of our parts. Chew on that, math peeps.
If, heaven forbid, a challenge came our way that caused us to be separated, for a season or the remainder of our lives here, I would do everything in my power to soldier on. I know the cool thing is to say I'd be unable to survive, and I've no doubt I'd feel that way on many days, but I would have to suck it up. I want my child to know that her mother is a strong woman, who will take any trial the Lord chooses to hand her with as much grace as she can possibly muster. Heavenly Father has given so many women throughout history trials that forced them to be without their husbands (the first missionaries spring to mind), and I really don't think those will be judged as better who put the most performance into falling apart, with the ones who chose to raise stalwart children in spite of circumstances and with nary a complaint on the bottom of the stack. Thank goodness Heaven isn't run by the producers of America's Next Top Model. Drama shouldn't always be queen.
Women like Bella, who fall apart when challenges come, are not my heroes.
These are my heroes:
My friend, who went to the ICU every single day alone for several months to be with her very premature son, while her husband served our country in Iraq. If I could handle half the challenges you did with half the courage, grace, and good cheer, I'd construct a monument to myself that would dwarf the statue of liberty.
Another friend, a widow with 6 young kids, who still goes through the trouble of teaching them all the traditions and values she and her husband worked so hard to establish, all while mending her broken heart, still making everyone around her feel like her best friend, flashing her million dollar smile, and wearing make-up every single day (a feat I don't even pull off with only one kid at home and my husband to help me out).
My mom, who didn't even flinch at being alone when a call would come in the middle of the night asking for the Bishop and my dad would have to go. A woman who doesn't flinch now, when business calls him away and she has to take care of everything in the house herself for 2 weeks out of 4.

So, lets give our young girls an example of strength to look up to. Who among us wouldn't be slightly nervous if our 16-year-old daughter said that some guy was the only thing worth living for and she'd die without him. I, for one, know I would have a massive fit, yet we talk like life is only worth living if we get to do it on our terms every single day. It's okay to be human, and admit that we have fears, weaknesses, and struggles. I really do hate going to the store by myself. I just think we need to stop acting like our weaknesses make us better than those around us. I joke a lot, but being better than others because of our problems is taking pride in our humility. While I have a lot of fears, being alone just isn't one of them--I could probably hurt any bad guy worse than Daniel anyway, he's so much smaller than me. That's what three years of living in the Tucson ghetto and walking to school between two bars will do to you. I got stronger, and had to leave fear behind to make room for being smart and wary. I hate to think I'd have to fake scared to have friends.
While I did miss Daniel while I was gone, I've got to admit, honing my airport trip so I got through security in 2 minutes or less all by myself with a happy baby made me feel like She-ra, Princess of Power. I even pumped gas today and I loved feeling independent and strong. Take that Rosie the Riveter! I can do it!
And you can too!
Strong women unite, and be the kind of women our awesome, helpful, hard-working, mondo-fabulous husbands would want to be married to!


jaime said...

that post did not annoy me at all. (i'm not sure if us being genetically related factors into that at all...)

in fact, i agree. to be honest i think the blog world is the biggest farce. all the women i hang out with are tough as nails, and manage their home and children without acting like a damsel in distress. but maybe i just choose my company wisely.

Kymberlee Wade said...

Word! Of course, I'm still waiting for that other half to participate more than randomly.

Alison said...

What I've noticed is more of a "my husband is better than your husband" thing going on when I read blogs. And now that you mention it, they do tend to include a bunch of "woe is me" because I guess if you play the helpless woman who can't do anything, you give your husband a better platform for stepping up to the plate and then you can write all about how fabulous he is.

So yeah, I'm with you on this one.