In honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, I thought I’d offer a shout out and cohesive summary of observances in relation to…well, how amazing women are. And also, how hard we have it, and probably always will, in certain areas of life. Not to disparage the men folk out there, with their own trials and tribulations. I can’t imagine hair loss after 30 or being expected to innately handle a drill gun. But honestly. We shoulder so many emotional and physical loads that men simply have no clue about.
To be clear, this is not a victim’s manifesto, but a celebratory high five to all my ladies literally doing and baring all the invisible, intangible things we seldom speak of. Here’s my best list….
#1 Mastering The Backwards Jog
Any female jogger knows exactly what I speak of. You’re in the zone, earbuds blasting, ponytail swayin,’ about to hit that second mile high…aaaaaaand some creepy dude runs/walks by. Instantly we transmute from Beyonce to a Handmaids Tale extra worrying about physical assault. Maybe even confessing our sins in case we meet our maker early in stained Lulu Lemon. And the thing is, it’s not an exaggeration. How many out there can attest that since hitting the teen years, we’ve had to quite literally jog backwards after passing by a solo male, or a group of men while trail running or on a side street to ensure we remain alive? I’ve actually called it quits and ran home when he’s creepy enough. Guess I’ll just skip the carbs at dinner…
One time as a single mom I literally begged a friend to come over after a Cox cableman arrived alone for a service call. I mean, he was 6’5 with the most vibrant of neck tattoos, but still. I hated feeling so vulnerable. Every single one of us have felt it as some point, and unless our anatomy magical changes, any day can easily transmute into the Hunger Games. A great set up for reason number two…
#2 Shaving Ten Foot of Leg A Day, And “Other” Beauty Burdens
Granted. I’m the most unnatural chick on the planet. The kind who still goes to bed in makeup because I still want to appear ravishing in the morning (I’m in therapy) and I love my extensions so much, I bought them a silk pillow. However, even the more natural, low maintenance sisters out there can attest to the immeasurable discrepancy of time and energy it takes us to simply leave the house without appearing homeless. It goes waaaay beyond leg shaving and nail filing. I recently counted the number of post-shower hair and skin products I need to feel confident enough to liaise with the outer world. Ten.
Ten steps (skin toner, moisturizer, detangler, heat protector, neck firming cre- actually let’s keep the mystery alive) and that doesn’t include makeup. It takes me a very bare minimum of 45 minutes (90 if blow drying) to get ready for date night, while just yonder in Alpha land, it takes my husband a total of three minutes. He sprays his man musk, smears a blob of gel through his hair and throws on a nice watch. Instantly sexy. Meanwhile I’m over here over balancing unwelcomed water retention on five-inch boot heels while scanning my hair for renegade grays, trying to achieve the tender balance of just enough cleave or lookin’ like a Housewives extra. “Honey what’s taking you so long?!” I’m going. To kill him.
#3 The Period Plight
Years back, a hurried friend was forced to spontaneously shop for a new outfit because her surprise period blood ran straight through her pants. You’d assume this was a twelve- or fifteen-year-old rookie still learnin’ the period ropes, but indeed this this was a 36-year-old executive level colleague forced to run into Old Navy before a client meeting in Manhattan. Periods are awful. They’re awful, inconvenient killers of spontaneous sex and good bed sheets after severely miscalculating what I call the “murderous flow” day. Not to mention the irritation and PMS infused-rage against our husbands, children, and a customer serviceman or two, that we haven’t managed to control after three decades of this shizzle.
I still don’t know why they got rid of the Old Testament red tents. Eating carbs for five days on a man-free glamping trip with my besties sounds like a dream to me. Imagine the group therapy opportunities. And life-stopping cramps aside, the estrogen-fueled emotions can be just as debilitating. Once a month, for at least six months now, I’ve unfailingly fallen into an unpredictable state of despair about my dog dying. And my dog is a puppy. It’s totally irrational. And it doesn’t matter a lick. Can you even imagine if men had this amount of hormones coursing through their veins, while expected to remain functional contributors to society? I dread getting older, but at least the crown of menopause will be there to greet us, like the phial of light after journeying through Middle Earth.
#4 Disproportionate Parenting Responsibilities
There’s a reason we’re the ones jolted awake by baby at 2 a.m., even when bottle feeding. It’ s not that daddy’s lazy. He’s just ambivalent. I always say motherhood is the biggest blessing and biggest thorn in our sides. We’ve been given the maternal chromosome. The rare gift of carrying babies, birthing them and let’s face it, being the ones to shoulder most of the emotional, spiritual and physical responsibility for the better part of two decades.
Yea yea yea we all know that “friend of a friend” in Ohio who married that unicorn of a husband putting his career on hold to change poo rags and monitor screen time…but in general, mamas are the main players, and dads are the NPC’s. Granted, daddy’s got his place. I thank God for my husband, daily. He’s the one balancing the pool PH and de-leafing the gutters every fall.
However. We’re not talking about seasonal tasks easily performed while listening to our favorite podcast and throwin’ back a cold one. We’re not talking paying the bills or remembering to change the car oil every three months. We’re talking about the in between. The domestic gray matter with no beginning, no end and no break, that dads typically know nothing about. The homework that needs to be signed every night. The hair that has to be de-tangled before school because ya know they’re not judging daddy for that rat’s nest. The dentist appointments and birthday invites. It. Goes. On. Equally delightful is the gene that that keeps us up at night worrying about our teen’s new weirdo friends while the hubs achieves next level REM. I knooooow the gene is a blessing we wouldn’t trade for the world. But man. It’s a lot.
#5 Dealing With Dudes Who Never Quite Grasped Ephesians 5:23
Most women who’ve been around church culture for a decade or two, have encountered it. The gents (usually older so at least they’ll age out) who took the “wives, submit to your own husbands as you do to the Lord,” verse and not only ran with it, it’s likely tattooed somewhere on their personage. The guy who doesn’t believe women should preach, like ever, and believes our “giftings” are quite literally reduced to the home. The kind of fella who directs you solely to Children’s Church when inquiring about ministry opportunities and believes wearing yoga pants is a sin. I’m as domestic as a yard snake so for me the offense is real, but at the very least, it’s frustrating to all of us.
I’d like to hope it’s going to be different for our daughters and granddaughters, but for now, the misogyny does continue to rear its ugly head from time to time. From the pastor introducing his “hot wife” on stage like an Italian sports car, to the father-in-law grading your wifely value on your baking skills (solid D minus over here, Frank!) it’s kind of like that recurring case of poison ivy you get every spring. Not the end of the world, but if they found a way to sterilize the weed, that’d be sweet.
It is for all these magical reasons and more, that I have never and will never feel guilty not paying for dinner (ever), waiting inside while the man gets the car in January, or sittin’ tight when my husband investigates the weird noise downstairs in the dark. We bleed, we worry, we carry the next generation with our prayers, and we look good after fighting to stay alive on the running trail. Just a few things to remember ladies, when getting out of yet another speeding ticket with just a smile. Jesus didn’t give us eyelashes for nothin.’ Happy Women’s Day, friends. Never forget how much you rock. xo
For more on the beauty of women, check out my post “Friends. The Backbone of Life.”
For an utterly hilarious video on mom exhaustion that pretty much sums up this post, watch “Tree ME, God!”