I never met her, but my family tells me of “Nana” who was my great grandmother on my mom’s side. She told dirty nursery rhymes, cleaned her dress in a fountain at a wedding followed by fanning it to dry up over her head, and most importantly, she raised 8 kids on her own. Her daughter, my grandma Bernhardt, has endured really rough things within her life, and raised 5 girls single-handedly. She can easily, in her 70s run my household and keep up with my three kids better than I can on any given day.
The apple didn’t fall too far from the tree either with my mom, who had two of her four kids before she could even legally order a drink and climbed her way up in her profession from entry level to leading an office that is #1 in the nation at a position otherwise held by middle-aged white men with prestigious college degrees. I have never seen yard work my mom or grandma wouldn’t tackle (my grandma to this day will mow her own lawn!) or come across a super heavy object my mom would ask a man to help her carry. No young sir at Publix✋🏼, I do not need help to my car with my groceries. In fact let me bag them. I can do it my dang self.😂
In vivid detail I could tell you how my grandmother and mom look when they cry. Mainly because it doesn’t happen too often, but also because it’s not your normal cry. It’s the kind of tears that are held back and held in until it bottles over. It holds no sound, and it releases no relief… at the end there are always two wipes to make it go away and an “I’m fine.” to seal the deal. I share all this to say, I bleed the blood of very strong and independent women. 💪🏼
Low Maintenance Woman
I pride myself on never needing anyone for anything. Pregnant or not, sick or hurt, tired or weary, I will carry the heavy things, paint the entire place, climb into the attic, do the dirty work, or juggle the thousand things. The nice person at the store who holds the door for me with a kid on my hip, bags on my arm, and a stroller in front of me will always get an, “Oh, thanks! You didn’t have to do that!” from me. Just to let them know, I had it. I am woman, hear me roar. I am low maintenance and high tolerance. I don’t mind pain, don’t need help, rely on nobody, and can do it all. That is, until… I can’t.
I am the only one who suffers.
Recently I’ve found myself burnt out. Crying regularly. Not able to get off the couch. Overwhelmed by it all. The kids (ages 9, 6, and 1) have reached ages of constant exhausting needs in very different ways. I’ve not been able to pull off volunteering in their classrooms all the time, elaborately celebrating every single occasion, keeping my house like a designer magazine, while cooking like my MIL, and documenting it all with ease via social media. I’ve become resentful that I don’t have help (that I would reject anyways) thrown at me like others do. My mind guilts me now when I let something slip through the cracks or my dishes pile up. The build up of never needing anyone finally burst my bubble of vulnerability.
So here I am, realizing just how high maintenance (on me) the reality of being low maintenance (to everyone else) is. I’ve done myself no justice in being so “strong” and “self sufficient”. It is exhausting to be a one-woman show. (Mind you, my husband is amazing and helpful. I solely put this pressure ALL on myself.) Low maintenance women rule the world but I’ve gotta tap out. It has taken me to the point of frustration and sadness and guilt to realize I’m doing no one any favors. The funny thing is? There’s not even some sort of medal you get when you’re ferociously independent and not needy. Weird.
I have waved the white flag.
So as a result of not wanting to hang with the big dogs… I’ve become REALLY gentle on myself. If you see the state of my kitchen, you’d probably say a little too gentle! My husband has to remind me over and over again that he knows I CAN do it myself but he doesn’t WANT ME to have to do it myself. So I’m dragging my feet through allowing him to care for me in all of my weaknesses. I am yelling more at my kids. Which of course has guilt in itself, but man it feels good to make them help around the house and not walk all over me because I’ll just do it for them. Slowly but surely I am seeing that I’m worthy of a little help.
There is a hardening of a woman when she’s proving herself to the world. It’s a shell that covers her heart up to make sure everyone knows that she’s not leaning on them, so she’s unbreakable. I’m here to say, peel off what’s covering you up strong ladies. There’s a strength that comes in being vulnerable with the world. It’s admirable to need no one, sure, but it’s even more courageous to say I’m willing to need you.
I love the independent and strong women in my life, and all that they’ve taught me. But even more so, I wish they would’ve had more shoulders to lean on, they deserved it, so do I, and so do you.