Desperate Measures

My feet sweat in my sneakers.

image from Marie Claire

image from Marie Claire

My t-shirt pulled under my arms.

My hair rubbed at my neck.

I tucked, pulled, squished, shrugged.

I could not get comfortable.

I wanted to rent my garments from my body and my hair from its roots.

I burned out the last of the caffeine scrubbing in the shower and fidgeted into bed with a foggy plan forming.

I dropped my last daughter off at preschool after a harried rush to the others’ bus stop.

And waited in line with the other little old ladies in front of the walk-in salon.

I chopped my hair.

I spent the remainder of the morning scouring sale racks for totally new togs.

I squandered the entire morning, returning to the preschool just in time for their singing debut in front of the senior luncheon.

The teachers, the secretary, my neighbors – all did double takes.

How brave you are, they said.

How different you look, they said.

How great it looks, they exclaimed.

I felt like it was an act of desperation.  The only grip on unpredictability I can grasp right now.  To leave as one thing and come back as another.  To blow off all responsibilities and should-dos for one morning in exchange for a few no-need-fors.

My daughter didn’t flinch.

It looks beautiful, Mommy, she said.

I don’t know if that spells success or failure for my desperate mission.

Iron Age

Last weekend, my husband and I watched The Iron Lady.  We’d seen previews for it and were intrigued.  We wanted to see Meryl Streep taking names and kicking butts, which ironically I’d never thought Margaret Thatcher had done.  While she was in office, I was too young to know more about her role in history than her name and position.  It never occurred to me the struggles she’d encounter not only as prime minister, but also as a woman fulfilling that role.  Now, as a grown woman watching this cinematic portrayal of her rise to power and its aftermath, I was angry and heartbroken.

It starts off optimistically enough.  I thrilled in her preemptive speech to her future husband before she accepted his proposal.  She would not bow to society’s ideas of what a woman, wife, and mother should be.  And he agreed!  She would be free to do as she desired with his freely and happily given support.

Then we see Ms. Thatcher as a hard-faced deserter as her children cry at the window as she heads to Parliament, shoving toy cars in the glove compartment on the way.  We see her daughter jealous of her own spotlight being stolen.  We see her husband questioning her devotion to her family in favor of ambition.

 

Why must a woman be vilified if she desires success outside the realm of motherhood?  Even more so if she harbors such desires in the midst of motherhood.  Yes, there are only twenty-four hours in a day.  Yes, there is always the threat of feeling as if she’s failed on both fronts.  Yes, children demand an inordinate amount of growing, coaxing, and coddling.  She needs to prepare a person ready to face the challenges of the next generation.  But what about the challenges of her own?  Why does motherhood take her out of the equation in facing and solving those? 

 

Why is there a prevailing thought that a woman must subvert her own self in order to grow the ones that came out of her?

 

Even with all her success, Margaret Thatcher couldn’t completely change the direction of that stiff wind – at least in this film.

In the speech to her future husband, the young Margaret Thatcher said she did not want to be trapped in the kitchen, hands in the dishwater.  The film ends with her doing just that.  I couldn’t help but think that plunging her hands into that water washed away all merit attached to her ambitious acts.  It called them all into question.  Had she made the wrong decisions?  Set the wrong priorities as a woman, wife, mother?  All joy that she’d excelled in at least the public half of her life was stolen by my doubt that she felt she should have chosen the private half instead.

It shouldn’t be a choice.  Or at least not a mutually exclusive one.

Iron is malleable – especially when it’s heated inordinately – which is a good thing because it looks like society will continue to rake women over the coals for the unforeseeable future.

Disconnect

Head vs. heart

Exhaustion vs. anxious energy

Joy vs. misery

Difficult situations rolling like water from a duck’s back; simple acts eliciting freak-outs

Distraction/perseveration

Longing, lacking,

cup overflowing

Confusion, crystalline pain

The grounding grasp of tiny clasp,

The constricting clutch of oh-so-much

 

Synergy, synthesis, integration – somewhere out in the ether.

I’m dying to meet Her.

disconnect

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