You know, I have been so sad, lately. I haven’t really known why – all I knew is that I felt sad, and that I needed to feel sad. I couldn’t understand it, but I didn’t feel like it was necessary to understand it either. So I have this feeling of sadness, heavy in my chest. Sometimes I feel teary for no good reason. This has been going on for about three weeks, and my feeling is that it won’t be gone in a hurry.
I didn’t really want to hurry it on; in the past I haven’t done sadness very well. It feels very vulnerable, and a little pointless as well, so I have quickly converted it into anger, or made a plan to extricate myself from its sticky clutches. i wanted to stay with it this time, to see what it had to tell me. It’s a feminine emotion, sadness, don’t you think?
It all started a few weeks ago. It was tuckshop day at my childrens’ school, and my son, who is nine, said to me that he was going to bring home something yummy for his dad. This is usual – my son is thoughtful and generous. But this time I asked why he didn’t ever want to bring anything home for me. He said:
Because Dad works.
Oh my. Out of the mouths of babes. So I had to explain that I also work, it’s just that I don’t get paid for it. Society doesn’t really value women’s work, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. I wasn’t angry, just so sad. My son is interpreting the world according to what he sees, and what he sees is that Dad goes out to work and brings home money, which is valuable, and Mum stays at home and does invisible work, which is not valuable.
A few days later, the Bear takes me to task. His tail is up, he feels happy and valued at work, he feels like he is progressing. I have noticed, and I am very happy about it – it hasn’t always been easy for him, and I know how important it is for him to be valued in the work he does. I am happy too for more selfish reasons – an unhappy, undervalued Bear is a misery to live with. He sits down and says to me:
So how are we going to go forward?
My heart sinks. My double Aries husband is about to give me a pep talk, peppered with sporting terms and economic references – think along the line of: playing as part of a team, there is no ‘i’ in team, and maximising earning potential.
He really should know better, but sometimes he just can’t help himself: the Bear is a born coach/team leader/instructor. Sadly for him, I resent being coached, lead or instructed. Especially by him. Sad but true. Normally, this would be a cue for me to arc up and tell him to attend to himself and his own issues, and leave me to mine. Save your coaching for the soccer team.
But that day I already felt battered and bruised, de-valued and unappreciated, and sadly conscious of my lack of financial contribution to our family. I wondered if there was something more I could be doing. I wondered if perhaps I was being selfish and lazy, pursuing my writing and attempting to earn money from it. I look back over the past year, and wonder if the things that haven’t worked out, the jobs I haven’t gotten, the little failures I have had are actually signposts that say Go Back You Are Going the Wrong Way! I had been thinking they were just learning experiences on my way to being a good writer and communicator, but maybe I was way off track. In short, I started to doubt myself.
The sadness settled itself in my chest and would not move.
To add insult to injury, I began to see the themes of the devaluing of women and the work they do emerge in the outer world. In Australia we have our very first female Prime Minister. I wonder if she will be our last – what kind of woman could do the job of running our country with a hung parliament, as well as put up with the daily insults, snide commentary and disrespect that she has had to put up with, just because she is a woman? You should read this, or this. I see women being used and abused everywhere, and my sadness grows and grows.
I have been playing this role for many years now, this invisible role of mothering and taking care of the home and family. In between, I do other invisible work, like casual work, volunteering, studying and community building. Mostly, I am perfectly happy with my contribution, and have no need of applause to make me feel worthy. I am self-sufficient in that way.
So, why all the sadness then? After a few weeks of feeling about this, some themes arise:
- Disappointed expectations: in my mind, I had expected good, no, great things from this year. Now that both children were at school, I would be able to get some work, and really push ahead. There would be lots of opportunities, and I would not let any of them pass me by. One or some of them would be perfect for me, and I would be on my way. Well, the truth is the opportunities have been few and far between, and none of them have been perfect for me.
- Feeling useless: I had no idea this would arise as an issue, but with both children at school, I feel less useful. I love the freedom, the time and the solitude, but it’s not enough. What now?
- External events have not caused these feeling inside of me: these things have turned on the light inside my own psyche. I already feel frustrated, insignificant and useless. Ugh.
Finally, this morning, I read this. It’s an astrology essay on the movement of Jupiter into the sign of Cancer. I read and read, and finally, I understood.
This sadness, it’s necessary. This sadness, it’s real. This sadness, it’s important.
Cancerian themes of motherhood, caring, healing, raising families, nourishment, food and community are being highlighted for everyone right now, not just me. This invisible work, it needs to be made visible. Without this invisible work there are no families and no communities. Without family and community, life has no heart. Yes, we have to pay the bills, yes, it is good to strive and succeed in our careers, yes, it is good to be respected in the outer world. But without family and community, what is the point?
So, my friends, It’s time to really start to respect myself and what I do. It’s time to nourish myself and my family. It’s time to spend some time with my mother, my real, lovely, human mother. It’s time to spend some time with the Goddess. It’s time to respect the feminine. It starts here, with me.