Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Not The Kind of Chick Who Can Light Her Own Lantern

I went to a writer's conference on Saturday with my beta reader (shout out to Amy!) and it was on a college campus. It's a college campus I'm kind of familiar with having recently organized and attended a homeschooling conference there. I also happened to be a student there for two semesters but that was way beyond recent.

I arrived 10 minutes after registration began and 20 minutes before the first session was set to begin. Woot, right?


No place to park. Seriously, no place to park. After circling the obvious areas in a line of fellow writers (also looking for places to park) for about 17 of the 20 minutes I had before the first session....I took off for other areas. I went to the parking lot at the conference center because I knew where it was and I knew there were places to park there. Once out of my car, however, I hadn't the foggiest idea of how to get to where I needed to be. And I was out of time...registration was already over...and I wasn't feeling particularly adventuresome.

I started walking. I knew the general direction, after all. I walked through a parking garage and came out the other side, arriving at a dead end. I went up some stairs and came to a little catwalk thing that dead ended at what looked like a locked door. I turned back around, not sure of where to go next.

I called Jeff. When we'd had the conference, I knew he had run all over the campus - maybe he could tell me how to get from one end of it to the other. I hated calling him, though. It seems I'm always lost and calling him.

"Why didn't you call me sooner?" he asked. "I could have told you where to park and it would have been closer."

"I was trying to be a big girl."

"Oh, babe, you know that usually doesn't work for you."

Okay, so he wasn't trying to be a jerk and he wasn't really serious but he wasn't entirely kidding, either. I hate this about myself, but I am not really capable of more than the occasional bout of successful big girl posing.

Jeff, of course, led me back to the door, which turned out to be an elevator. He talked me around the tennis courts, alongside a creek, over a bridge, and landed me squarely in front of the library, where I needed to be.

I don't want to give the impression that Jeff is the Man of the House and I am the Little Woman of the House or anything Majorly Weird Like That. I don't FEEL like The Little Woman. But I am periodically quite helpless and I hate it.

When we went camping (you know that trip - the one where The Man of the House lost 4 out of 5 of the Little Woman's children on a mountain top), our friend and her two kids went with us. No husband. And she was over there popping up her own tent, turning on her own little propane stove and whipping up meals, lighting her own lantern yada yada yada. And Jeff commented on it and I felt suddenly inadequate and said so. He tried to make me feel better by saying something like, "You're just not the kind of chick who can light her own lantern."

In my defense, Jeff once singed his eyebrows off lighting a lantern so....yeah....no thanks. I'm having enough body image problems at the moment - not ready to give up my eyebrows for a little bit of illumination.

I don't think I'm a girly-girl. I don't know how to differentiate myself from a girly-girl, exactly. But I know one when I see her and I'm not her. But I'm not a rough and tough farm girl, either. In fact, I'm neither rough nor tough nor any combination, thereof.

Over the past weekend we were at my sister-in-law's house and my brother-in-law, a longtime farmer, was talking about a woman who bought some of their land and is farming it, herself. He was singing her praises because she gets out there and bales hay, works on fence lines, digs post holes, and a bunch of other impressive stuff. I am equally impressed by this girl. Really, I am. I live on a farm. I know that because we have cows and stuff. But she and I are not in the same galaxy.

During the course of the conversation with my brother-in-law, I mentioned something that had happened while Jeff was gone, something that to me had seemed like a Humongous Catastrophe of Enormous Proportions (can't remember what it was at the moment) and he laughed and said, "Now, don't you know how to take care of that when the boy's gone? You're a farm girl." Of course, he was grinning.

But it goes beyond getting lost or digging post holes or lighting lanterns. The sad truth is, I once left the television on for three days because Jeff was out of town and I didn't know how to use the new remote. Before you judge me too harshly, I'm pretty sure I had a newborn at the time and only 1/3 of my brain cells were functioning. But still. I know pathetic when I hear it.

I'm secretly thinking I might be one of those women who can't take care of things. Who wants to be that? I mean, what if Jeff DIES or something? Will I be that poor woman sitting in the dark because she can't change a light bulb? Well, probably not. It won't be totally dark. I would, of course, have the meager lighting provided by the television. You know, the one I WOULDN'T KNOW HOW TO TURN OFF.

I think that I just feel so full of obligations and responsibilities that I passively aggressively and unconsciously just refuse to take on any more. Does that make sense? But how can I raise strong, independent children (particularly daughters) if I don't feel strong and independent, myself?

Amazingly, I seem to be doing so. Maybe it is one of those cases where the kids look at a parent and say, "God, I don't want to end up like THAT." Whatever. I'm tired of pondering it at the moment. I'm getting hungry. Somebody needs to fix me some lunch ;0).

Signing off as a Somewhat Helpless Sardine Mama


  1. Some how a mom who home schools her children does not seem like a helpless kind of person, grab what you know and run with it.

  2. I don't see logical division of labor as helplessness or strength. I just see that it makes sense for each partner in the marriage to help each other, ya know?

    Although it was a pretty funny post...
    "Maybe it is one of those cases where the kids look at a parent and say, "God, I don't want to end up like THAT." "

  3. everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. I could give you a laundry list of things I do well and Chris doesn't and vice versa. Doesn't mean one of us is any better than the other, just different.
    I am AWFUL at cold-calling or getting companies ie. Dell to do what I want. It may be my computer but Chris is the one dealing with The Situation and I don't mean the fool from Jersey Shore. I'd like to do it myself but I know I'll lose my temper and make some poor girl in Bangalore cry so I ask Chris to handle it. Better for all involved, me, Chris and the girl in Bangalore.
    But I will handle Lucy's surgery from soup to nuts. That will be 100% my show and he just does what he is told. Drive here, stand there, etc....
    We each have our strengths and there is no shame on one partner drawing on those when he/she needs them

  4. You are definitely not a girly girl. You may not dig your own fence posts, but I say that is clever avoidance of painful labor, not being a girly girl. You are a woman who led a business meeting while breastfeeding-- not every woman could that, either. My husband can't figure out remotes, either, by the way. But I don't make phone calls if I can help it. So I figure out how to use our electronics and he calls people. :) I enjoyed your post and enjoyed seeing you at the conference! (Thanks for the shout out!)

  5. Oh, you poor helpless thing.

    Just the fact that you are aware of it and you're writing about it makes you much less helpless. Plus that fact that you try to not be...like being a big girl and parking all on your own.

    The truly pathetic have no idea that they are pathetic.

    And maybe you just have too many responsibilities!

  6. I don't know anyone else who can turn "pathetic" into utterly, riotously hilarious, so that counts for something! I routinely get lost in San Antonio, where I grew up -- I mean, really lost -- but luckily, I just drive around long enough and eventually there's a familiar landmark, somewhere!