Month: August 2014

Muliebrity

Muliebrity is a kind of cool new word I just learned. Means “womanhood.”

But, what is it?

We define ourselves in so many ways. This train of thought has been circling in my head for quite some time, but it’s been brought to the forefront by my previous post, The Maiden, the Matron, and the…Other One.

So, in simple terms, who am I?

  • Mom
  • Wife
  • Daughter
  • Sister
  • Daughter-in-law
  • Sister-in-law
  • Aunt
  • Niece
  • Cousin
  • Friend
  • Neighbor
  • Homeowner
  • Community member
  • Citizen
  • Consumer
  • Pet owner
  • Earthling
  • Me

 

I am all of those women  – all at the same time. You can’t really separate them. It looks exhausting, sometimes.

I bought a rosemary plant at the grocery store today, and had the kids help me plant it, in the flowerbed right out front (edibles as ornamentals – this is a trend I am enjoying very much, and will probably continue doing long after it’s not trendy anymore). I bought it as a consumer, filled an empty spot in my flowerbed as a nod to upkeep of the property, in the name of being a good homeowner and neighbor. We use rosemary in one of our favorite dishes, so there’s my nod to wife and mom, too. I’d like to think, that exchanging pretty plants with plants that are pretty and useful is good environmental stewardship in its own small way, so hopefully, that counts towards being a good community member and earthling?

I try and explain to the kids – everything we do, every single thing, affects someone else. If we decide to drive to school instead of walk, then the traffic is a tiny bit heavier, and someone will have to wait an extra minute in the drop off line. If I stay up late after the kids go to bed, and binge watch season three of [insert trendy TV show I’m behind on here], then there’s a good chance I’m useless at breakfast tomorrow, and the corner doughnut shop is getting a little extra business.

With that in mind, I think the ultimate luxury is lack of obligation. Because we really are a lot of things, to a lot of people. The best thing, I think, is to find that point where the people you choose to indebt yourself to, are the people you like being in debt to (for the most part).

I love my family, I have great neighbors, and the community organizations I’m part of are full of people who are so fun to be with.

Now, that’s not to say that mommy doesn’t need to get away from time to time. (I am blessed with a family who understands that, and I do try to return the favor, when it’s possible to do so.)

But, in a way, that’s being good, too. It’s being good to Me, and it’s being good in that way that recharges you. I’m a better everything when I have a chance to step away and breathe for a minute. It’s like working a large jigsaw puzzle. After an hour or so, you have to step away from the table. When you come back, you glance down and see just how the pieces fit.

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The Maiden, the Matron, and the…Other One

‘Look at the three of you,’ she said. ‘Bursting with inefficient good intentions. The maiden, the mother, and the crone.’

‘Who are you calling a maiden?’ said Nanny Ogg.

‘Who are you calling a mother?’ said Magrat.

Granny Weatherwax glowered briefly like the person who has discovered that there is only one straw left and everyone else has drawn a long one.

-Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad

 

I’m no scholar of antiquities or theology. But it seems to me, that there are some common themes regarding women in theology and pop culture. To wit, the Maiden, the Matron, and the Wise Woman. This triplicate was brought into the modern collective consciousness by Robert Graves in his book The White Goddess. Whether it is accurate in its description of a three-faceted Goddess, I don’t know. But hints and bits and pieces of her pop up all over the place – books, film, and just about every theological doctrine. And, it makes a conveniently packaged starting point to an evolving personal philosophy.

I had a wonderful opportunity to spend some time with a little bit of my extended family recently, and got to sit and have a conversation with a woman who is very wise in her own right. Aunt P is very dedicated to the Family. She spends her Sundays attending church, and then cooking a meal for her husband’s elderly aunt, with whom she then spends a good bit of the afternoon. She then drives to the nursing home to spend the rest of the day with Grandmother. Every Sunday.

And this seems to be a comfortable place for her, because this is her phase of life right now. This is her role. In her way of describing it, she had what she calls her “cookie-baking years,” when she had a young child in the house. Now, her daughter is grown and moved out, and it is time to care for the older generation. That’s just where she is in her life phases, and she is embracing the role, and being it. I admire that. It’s hard, sometimes, to find where you are right now.

But defining where we are just doesn’t feel like a neat and tidy thing – you can’t just point yourself out on a map.

I am acquainted with three women who, though they are a generation older than myself, are currently raising young children, the same ages as my own. It is an odd dynamic to think about sometimes – in many ways, we are very different, but in some ways, very much the same. We have so much in common, and yet – don’t. On the flip side of that, are the women who are very close to me in age, yet have children much older or much younger than mine, and for exactly opposite reasons, we have so much in common, yet – don’t.

It’s odd – we are many things, yet the ages of the children in our homes affects so much of how we choose to define ourselves.

Food for thought.

So now to discover: who, what, where – am I?

 

 

Every phase of our life belongs to us. The moon does not, except in appearance, lose her first thin, luminous curve, nor her silvery crescent, in rounding to her full. The woman is still both child and girl, in the completeness of womanly character.  -Lucy Larcom