Damsels In Distress?
I get it. I don’t like it, but I get it. If it is an inherent female trait, it skipped me. If it is learned or taught behavior, I failed the class. I totally understand the concept. I completely, if albeit grudgingly, acquiesce to the fact that the concept exists. I just can’t manage to pull it off. I know that distressed damsels exist. I have met one or two. It is with curiosity and sometimes a twinge of jealousy that I watch them operate. But it’s not for me.
The theme is repeated over and over again in relationship books and talk shows. Men like to feel needed; like they have made a contribution. Performed a service. Fixed something, anything. It is hardwired into their DNA. I applaud that DNA. Trust me, I am not a feminist. I have no real problem (I can already hear the groans starting) with traditional gender roles. I will cook supper if you cut the grass. The problem I have is ASKING you to cut the grass.
Partnership Is Everything
My parents had a partnership. In the early years of their marriage they owned a restaurant, a gas station, a boarding house. They worked together, united. They didn’t have a chore chart. They didn’t flip a coin. They just did what had to be done. Worked in conjunction with each other. So it is their fault that I went into adulthood thinking that was the design for a healthy partnership.
I kept those ideas and thoughts and beliefs … right until the moment I became a divorced single mother with two daughters.
What do most single mothers do? EVERYTHING!
Financial decisions, discipline decisions, car decisions, school decisions, vacation decisions. The list is endless. Skinned knees. Science projects. Sibling brawls in the kitchen (and bedroom and front yard). First heartbreak.
My obvious point is that being a single mom creates a situation where you have to be in charge. Become strong in areas that you really didn’t want to be strong in. When you become accustomed to those things it then becomes difficult to turn the tide.
We can’t go from being an independent, self-sufficient woman and then fall to fainting on cue. Do we feel like fainting? Yes. Sometimes we do. Or at least I know I did.
You can have an amazing support system, but some nights after dinner, homework, and all the little problems are handled, you lock yourself in the bathroom, turn on the shower and cry. And pray. And wonder if there will ever come a time when you will not feel broken, inadequate and exhausted.
We HAVE Distress – We Don’t LIVE In It
I said all that to prove us single moms do have distress. But we don’t live in distress. We live in hope and courage and LOVE. And when we meet a guy, those are the attributes we display. We don’t want you to feel sorry for us. We are proud of ourselves. So we can plan dinner, but would love if you did it first.
We can take the car to have the oil changed or tires rotated, but it would melt our heart if you offered to handle it. We can pay a plumber to unclog the toilet, but… well maybe we should just pay the plumber.
My point is, just because we have risen to the occasion and CAN handle life, doesn’t mean we would not relish the chance to sit back, let go of the reins and let someone else do it from time to time. But some of us (me) just have trouble asking for help.
So for the men who are looking to be needed, resourceful, handy, generous in time and affection, please by all means DON’T LET US STOP YOU! We do not mean to get in our own way. Open the doors, bring the flowers, pick up the milk, make the reservation. Untie us from the railroad tracks.