I've been told that black women are endurance models. We are literally in charge of entire clans. We multi-task even in our sleep, supposedly. We take care of grandparents. Without us parents vacate the planet. The kids need us for homework, food and clothing. We even have to sit by the bedside each night and sing or read the kids to sleep. Then we have womanly duties to perform thereafter. We have to make Mister happy. Then in 6 hours or less, its up again to prep the kids for school, get that daily bread and keep the machine running. We are tigresses. We are this and we are that. I say that is all bullshit.
Yes, I quit. I ain't no tigress and I could not be bothered. I have not seen anyone walk past me with the name "tigress" emblazoned on their foreheads. Never. I have never seen awards given to the woman who has knocked herself out in the spirit of service to family. Nobody cares or gives a damn. So why do we toil so ceaselessly to our detriment? What is the addiction? Indeed, it tastes like an addiction, a hopeless one at that!
I woke up today with a headache. A bad one. Not enough to cause me to go to the doc. But enough to make me wonder why the hell I have to work on Monday - another plug for next blog: I also tire of my job. Mind you, its Saturday so what am I talking about? We have not even gone past Sunday and I am thinking of Monday. My reality is that I am so tired I could use an entire year off and in isolation - no kids, no hubby, no relatives. I love y'all but I could be the lost island chic for a whole year and be content right now. that is how tired I am. I work myself to the bone because somehow, I have convinced myself that without me life may stop. Without me, the kids will be ill-prepared for school and fall behind. Without me, residents and guests will have to deal with a filthy house. Without me, McDonald's will become the daily food supplier for the kids. But am I being real? If I dropped today from say some condition related to overextending myself, would life not adjust perfectly to accommodate my exit and keep the cycle churning? If I worked myself to death, wont the story be that I failed to pull the reins on the horse when I was prompted to by my body? Wont my kids find a way to start working without mom in the picture? Wont they clean the kitchen, bathrooms, etc? Wont they do their homework? The scariest part is, I think they will blame me for letting overwork consume me and take me away from them. So is there a point where I win in this game?
I am so tired I am struggling to remember the names of people that don't owe me money. Specifically, I can only remember the names of people that I need to know to get paid. Every other name is a blur. I cant even remember clothes that are in my wardrobe so I end up repeating items until its obvious its beginning to look like I am the victim of a recent house fire. I want help but I cant afford it. I need a tutor for the kids so that I can find some reprieve from homework but I cannot afford to expend another dime. I need a chauffeur to pick up the kids and take them to their after school programs. What a dream! I occasionally find myself nodding away when driving, fighting to peel my eyelids apart so that I don't drive off the road. everyone comments on my state of tiredness these days. They see me and ask me if the night went well. I have developed bags under my eyes. I tire day in, day out. I want to cook but my body is so beaten, it cannot move beyond what is necessary to exist. When does it stop? The sad thing is that when you start falling apart, everything falls apart. For example, I just realized that I have missed three months of my lifetime contributions to Sallie Mae, the student loan company. How did that happen? In my struggle to keep afloat, that did not rise to the top of the list until they sent me hate mail in a yellow envelope. By the way, I did not see the yellow envelope until last week because I have not had the time to review or open mail in about 6 weeks. Yes, I made an executive decision that reading the mail could wait while I tackled other pressing needs that needed attention last week. Went to my mail only because I needed a statement from the heap to pay off a credit card so that I could use the card at the store. In other words, I only went to my mail because I was forced to. Of course, they would have reported this to the credit bureaus. I make a mental note to do a check. But to what end I ask myself? That will take the time that I could use to iron a top for work, review homework, teach the kids for next week, review some of the backlog from work, rest to give my body some reprieve from severe anemia, and perhaps cook so that there is food next week. So I don't check the damage. I move on and then I see a hospital bill from March. There is an ominous note on the bill, "last notice". I am flustered, angered and flummoxed. Who the hell is sending me this bill? I don't owe anyone. then I open it brewing for a phone fight and lo and behold, its a bill from a visit to the emergency room by one of the kids. Rather than sit, take a breather and think, I yell out to the kid with her name on the bill. Believe it or not, I start asking a kid who is not of driving age "why did you go to the emergency room?" Of course she is confused and asks me "what do you mean, mommy?" I yell again, "did you go to the emergency room in March?" Of course she is only 8. So she does not remember what the hell I am talking about or why I am flustered. How on earth will she remember what happened in March? The only thing she can possibly remember is the reason she went, assuming of course that the visit was triggered by something very serious. She whimpers in desperation. Then her face lights up. She says, "Mom, remember when I fell during gym class and hit my head, and you asked dad to take me to the hospital because I had a nasty bump and a mild concussion?" "You had a concussion?" I yelled back. Now I am really angry. Don't ask me why. I am flexing my muscles for battle. Why would my child have a concussion and nobody freaking told me about it. As I head for the stairs to harass my hubby on the matter, I suddenly remember. She did need to go to the emergency room. Then I start feeling deficient as a mom. How could I forget?! I sit down and reflect on my aggressive behavior towards my daughter. Then it dawns on me. I was just really angry there was a $600 bill that I would have to deal with. Not with all else I had to do in the name of being a working parent. I was angry at the bill, and the fact that I now had to solve that one additional problem too. But somehow, in my truly incapacitated state, I had inherently passed the blame to my daughter and nearly harassed her into tears.
When people have a problem, society often finds a way to create a help center for them. You have mental issues, you see a shrink for assistance. When you have financial issues, there's the social security or unemployment office and other service organizations waiting to cater to you woes. So where do you go when you wish to outsource your chores? Who do I call when I am no longer able to clean the house and cant afford a cleaner? Where do I go to cry when my frustration mounts?
I want to run away but I can't. My kids beckon. There is no way that I can completely walk away from them. But I need the space, the time, the opportunity to just be free of all the bills. You work so hard to find that job you think is going to support your vision of life and you end up living from hand mouth. yes, even though I earn six figures, I practically live from hand to mouth. I feel my lot may be better without work. But how do I walk off the job and from my home knowing that my kids need me more than any money I could give them? So I have to give up on some of the things that keep driving a vortex around me - the housekeeping, the cooking, the bills. Those have to go into the neglected bin. I have decided not to compromise on the kids homework and therefore, their future.
I quit but not entirely. I quit house work. Let the sky fall for once. I quit.