Well friends, it was a very good week. A week free (or as free as I have learned to be thus far) from scheduling and booking and planning and organizing. A week with a little wonder, a lot of love and some sporadic glasses of wine. A week when I lay in bed a little later, cooked meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner and even made it to morning yoga with my boyfriend. In short, I loved it. I don’t know what I was thinking before with all of my overbooking, fast-paced nonsense. I’ve learned that there’s a fine line between inspired/energized and pressure/burning out. So for now, I’m going to continue to play it slow and take it one day at a time. I’ve been thinking a lot about control recently and I’ve come to realize that it’s not necessarily a part of my personality. Rather that it is a place that I go. There is a fight or flight instinct in me that believes control equals survival. When I feel panicked or afraid, control is how my mind and body have decided to cope. I see this in a lot of my female friends – sometimes it is with their work, their relationships, their eating habits, their social life, their finances – they find something they can control and they become obsessed with it. Their energy becomes completely focused on managing how much they spend, or how much they exercise, or how many times a week they have sex.
New York Magazine published a somewhat controversial article recently called The Retro Wife: Feminists Who Say They Have It All – By Choosing To Stay At Home. It was a trend piece, one that inspired conversation and debate (always a good sign) but it also scared me a little. Some of the studies and figures referenced made me worry about when I am older and have my own family. The article touches on a number of aspects, one of which is the idea that women could be more evolutionary designed for home care/child rearing. The number of modern, educated women who choose to be stay at home moms is increasing. I don’t necessarily agree that this is due to evolutionary motivation but I do find some of the reasons for said increase interesting. “The conversation [from Stay At Home Moms] we hear over and over again is this: ‘The sense of calm and control that we feel over our lives is so much better than what is currently on offer in our culture.” This comment reminded me of the compelling article published in The Atlantic last year that discusses the flawed infrastructure for women in the workplace. I have a hard time believing that this increase is all about women wanting to go back to simpler times. The article continues, “So many women want to control their husbands’ parenting,” says Barbara Kass, a therapist with a private practice in Brooklyn. “ ‘Oh, do you have the this? Did you do the that? Don’t forget that she needs this. And make sure she naps.’ Sexism is internalized.” Perhaps this mentality explains the baffling result of a survey that the Families and Work Institute conducted last spring for Real Simple magazine. Women said they yearned for more free time and that they hated doing most housework. But when they got free time, they used it to do housework—convinced that no one else could do it as well.”
I’m not a parent and I do not run a household, but the idea that I have to do something in my home/work because no one can do it as well as me is a pretty familiar one. This scares me. I do this sometimes. I think I can’t cancel because I’m too important (my brain comes up with a far less obvious excuse). I have bad faith. I show a lack of trust. I take it all on. I do not want to carry this behavior into my future. I am growing up and with that comes growing responsibility – I don’t need to add more.
I am trying to remember that there are far greater powers in control than I. If I just back off for one second and trust my friends to love me even if I cancel, or my partner to send the email or my boyfriend to do the dishes, the world will be a much brighter place. This week has been a week of living with trust and I am happy to tell you that it was truly sparkling. I encourage all of you to take a moment today and Let Go. Let someone else do it. Cancel your meeting. Go to bed early. Stay up late talking. Go buy yourself the $4 croissant. Whatever it is your heart desires, do it. It’ll all be ok.