Sitting down to chat with the ladies from this week’s special feature, ‘Wonder Women,’ was interesting to say the least.
Stephanie O’Brien had strongly insisted I participate, though as the writer of the piece as well as a participant, I knew it would be challenging. Plus, sometimes I just don’t feel all that much like a Wonder Woman, to be honest. My writing can always be better. My house could certainly be cleaner. I should be thinner. I wish my workouts were more regular. I picked up take out for supper when I should have used the leftovers – again.
Messing with our heads
Plus, children have a way of messing with our heads, too. Just the other day, after a long grueling few weeks of solo holiday prep and following what felt like decades of slugging my daughter around to multiple parties, concerts, shopping excursions, parades and recitals, she announced; ‘‘We never spend any quality time together.’’
Guilt is one demanding, unforgiving mistress, and I immediately began trying to remedy her admitted ailment and my obvious failure. I lugged the kid off to Chapters to pick up a few books I remembered enjoying when I was around her age. ‘‘These books, they were special to me, and you and I will read them together,’’ I announced tenderly, looking deeply into her eyes and through to her tragically injured child soul.
That first evening, I wandered into the washroom to read to her while she was in the tub. I got kicked out for being ‘creepy.’ When I tried to crawl in with her later that night to read she stated; ‘this is my quiet time.’ In the morning, she was ‘chilling.’ In the afternoon, when she finally let me read to her, the chapter was ‘too long’ and she needed a breather. I decided to try other ‘bonding’ methods.
I asked her to walk with me as I headed out on a lovely, unexpectedly warm December day with the dogs. She picked going on the treadmill instead. There’s more ‘naw thanks, Mom’ moments that followed, but you get the picture. I quickly realized I resembled a bad, neglectful, negligent mother about as much as I resembled a unicorn. Still, it’s easy to fall into that ‘not meeting anyone’s expectations/must do better’ trap.
Which is why taking care and surrounding ourselves with other struggling, but equal-parts strong and inwardly powerful women is so very important. Taking a few moments, or a few hours, to refuel the ones who take care of everyone and everything shouldn’t come with apologies, it should simply be a given.
Like a phone in the red, plugging it in and letting it rest and recharge is a given, so why don’t we give ourselves the same luxury?
It’s also so important to laugh – a lot. Whether it’s about the crazy expectations others set for us, or the insane height of the bar we set for ourselves, just crack a joke, or at least a smile, and let go.
With teeth or without?
Even the Queen of England has a sense of humour when it comes to her shortcomings. Rumour has it that for every portrait painting she’s posed for since 1980, she breaks the ice with this question; ‘‘with teeth or without?’’
If the queen is fine with laughing it up over the cruel realities of aging, then surly the rest of us can let go of some of the baggage we’ve held on to for much too long and just be happy being ourselves.
So, the next time my daughter – or anyone – informs me that I’m not living up to their expectations, I’ll simply remind myself of a Wonder Woman quote that reads in part;
‘‘I used to want to save the world…’’ and finish it with a quote of my own, something like ‘‘…but I decided to get my nails done instead.’’
Pam Pardy Ghent, The Herald’s Managing Editor, can be reached by emailing [email protected]