Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Unraveling of a Woman

I orignally wrote this as an article for my local paper. People still mention it, so I thought you may enjoy it:

I thought once that this look would be good on me. I had seen others wear it well and I thought I too could pull the look off. First I donned a career, then marriage. I added motherhood on twice for good measure and then of course a bit of volunteerism. It felt a little snug as I added each layer, but I received many compliments on how well I wore it all. Then one day as I raced from work to help in the kids’ class at school, I found myself with my heart pounding and a desire to drive over all the cars that seemed to purposely block my path. I noticed the smallest thread sticking out. No one else probably even noticed it as I walked down the hall that day, but I did and it started to eat at me and so as I ran from here to there: making dinner, doing the bills, leading the troop, I started to pick at the thread. It started to get longer and longer.

Eventually the hem came out and I actually completely forgot to go to a meeting and stayed home wrapping presents instead. When I realized what I had done, I felt guilty because I knew people would think that something horrible had happened to me because I would never be so irresponsible to miss a meeting. How could I tell them that it was glorious to be home, eating at the family dinner table, putting the kids to bed on time, and wrapping presents as I listened to Christmas music? That is about when the whole seam split right open. I tried very hard to sew it up. I limited the kids to two activities each, stopped chairing committees, and tried to find some me time. But even that didn’t stop the unraveling of my wardrobe, two activities times two kids plus a husband’s schedule and mine: that left one night home, if I was lucky. It seemed as if home was not a place to hang your hat, but simply a place to go change it for the next show. I felt that each time I left the house people where pulling at the few strings I had left – Couldn’t you bake for the bake sale? We really need someone like you to run the program? You would be magnificent trainer? I thought if it all didn’t stop soon I would be standing naked in the street.

It was about then though that I noticed others with strings hanging loose, a few were still trying to tuck them in; a few were trying to hide the thread bare clothes. Others barely had anything left at all – a collar, a cuff, a waistband with strings hanging out everywhere. It seemed a lot of other moms did wear this style and I even noticed a few dads too. Everyone wore a painted on smile and if you asked them how they were, “fine” would be the response as they would tug their coat with a pocket falling off tightly around themselves.

So I have started to wonder if naked is all that bad. Did you ever notice that babies are naked? And they are happy that way! So, I have started to try to strip myself of these many layers. I have started to learn the word “no” and “I need help”. I have started to leave layers behind and learn to be comfortable in just my skin. I would appreciate it if you see me with my few threads still hanging on that you ask me how I am and I promise I won’t say just “fine” and perhaps we can just sit down and have tea, just you and I and neither of us will have to run here or there and we can just be glad to have time to be with each other and be free. (Ok, truth is I can maybe give you five minutes before I run off . . . the clothes aren’t that easy to strip off).

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