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Becoming Helpless

My parents raised me to be a strong, independent woman.

My mom encouraged me to explore, follow my curiosity, and trust in my body, mind and spirit. She passed on to me respect for other cultures and a travel lust to see other places, as well as the belief that I could go off on my own to see those other countries and cities. She never held me back, although she always held a safety net of love and support if I need to fall back.

My dad never had a different standard for his daughters than his son. He did understand that as individuals we had certain capabilities and needs that were different from each other, but if there was a sofa to be moved, he wouldn't wait for my brother or some other guy to help if I was there and up to the challenge. He did teach me that it was important to be respected as a woman but that it didn't mean that I should be treated as less capable of things than a man. When we packed the car for a trip, I was hauling bags and lifting them into the car. When my dad refinished the basement, added a room on the house and built a deck on the back, it was just assumed I'd help (and even known that I loved to help) with everything from bricklaying to electrical wiring.

I went to college with the belief that I could handle myself, my money, my schedules, my trips, my apartment upkeep and anything else that came up. This was a belief that I had and my parents had. If my parents had any doubts, they did not show it. If I had any doubts, I called my parents and got the understanding, support, love and help I needed. My mom talked me through any medical and emotional issues and helped me figure out if I need to go to the specialist for my headaches or simply ask for a new kind of migraine medicine. My dad came down and brought tools so we could fix the couch or the toilet, always together with him teaching me how to fix it myself.

I spent a semester abroad in Florence, Italy, knowing no one there before I left, just knowing that I had always wanted to go and was finally going! After my spring semester ended, my sister came over to Europe, met me in Paris and we traveled around Europe together, although I did plenty on my own before and some after. We learned how to navigate the trains, the layout of new cities, how to overcome language barriers and how to live cheaply while still seeing some of the greatest things in the world. Our parents gave us the belief in ourselves and created our independences that enabled us to do that.

I was raised an independent, strong woman who could take on the world.

So why is it that I now ask my husband to fix a handle on the lid of a pot? As he pointed out, I know where the screwdrivers are kept. Why do I nag him about fixing the toilet, when I know what is wrong with it and could easily to go the store to buy the part myself? Why do I put off taking trips places until he can go with me? Why do I wait for him to unpack the car after a trip?

How have I become so helpless??? Or maybe it's pampered...


Becoming Mommy said…
It’s division of labor, is all. Not helplessness
I, too was raised to be self-reliant. However, when the lawn must be mowed, or something broke, or an assortment of other specific chores must be done—I ask Hubby to do them and they don’t get done till HE does them.
Because, as our relationship evolved, that’s just how they were divied up. Those are his jobs.
Meanwhile, there are certain things that only I do that he is perfectly capable of doing. They just became “my job” as the relationship evolved.
And yes, you are perfectly capable of doing those tasks. Of doing all of them individually. But as a whole, really, some of them HAD to become Londo’s jobs.
-goofydaddy said…
here's why: you aren't independent. you are part of a couple.

every example that you called upon was pre-marriage.

being married means relying on someone for the rest of your lives. asking him to do things that you know you can do just means that it's working. :-)

I'm sure it's a 2-way street.

you can still be a strong woman who can take on the world, but the cool thing is now you've got someone who's got your back.
I'm Not Skippy said…
I don't buy that his job your job thing. You said your parents expected you to help them do things. . . did your mom help too. My mom did and I expect the same from my wife.

I don't get it, but I expect it.

My wife wasn't pampered, but her parents didn't expect her to become independent. Her only chore growing up was emptying the dishwasher (which I still have to beg her to do, and normally do on my own).

With the exception of taking a trip without him—which to me seems like an odd thing to do—I say, if you have the time and energy, become more independent again.

Now you go me all fired up, my wife is going to be cursing you tonight.
Cloud said…
I do think it is a division of labor thing. I'm not skippy, before you get fired up, think carefully about whether there are things you could do for yourself that your wife does for you! Hubby came in all fired up about how I never take out the trash one day, and I pointed out that he had never once made Pumpkin's lunch for day care. Later, we went through our chores and responsibilities and decided things were actually pretty fair.

In our house, I've abdicated responsibility for car maintenance (which I used to handle for my car) and most navigation (because he's just better at it), and I'm sure several other things. I have picked up responsibility for remembering all special events, even for his family, keeping the master schedule, and I'm sure there are several other things here, too. I am perfectly capable of calling the mechanic, and he is perfectly capable of marking dates on a calendar. But that isn't what happens in our house.

The process of settling into couplehood is an interesting one. It is important to me to keep the feeling that I COULD be completely independent again if necessary, but I see no reason why I should do that now, when I have someone to share the load with.
Rudyinparis said…
Ah, the Sandwich Phenomenon. Years ago, way back before I had met DH I was good friends with a couple. The three of us got along very well. One day, he and I (I’ll call him D) were hanging out at their apartment when she (I’ll call her L) called from her job at a nearby bookstore. She had forgotten her lunch. Could he please bring her a sandwich? He hung up the phone and made her a sandwich, put it in a brown bag and then opened the door and said, “Well, I’ll see you later because I’m going to go walk this sandwich down to L.” I was agog. You see, before DH all my relationships with men were primarily sexual. I had friendships with friends, and sex with men. But this… this was something else altogether! Talk about friendship with benefits! It was friendship with sandwiches! My puny mind reeled. You mean you could be in a relationship with a guy and he would bring you a sandwich? You just had to ask? Even though you were perfectly capable of picking up something at a nearby deli? Really? I was amazed. A whole new world opened up. Even now, years later, I think of this often. I’ll ask DH to do something I am perfectly capable of—say, putting a fan in the window. And then I’ll add, sweetly, “Can you make me a sandwich?” It’s become couple code for us, for when one does the extra thing for the other for no real reason, although love is truly a real reason if there ever was one. This doesn’t make you weak, or dependent, or even lazy (well, maybe just a little lazy.) It means you have a partner. And that can be a beautiful thing.
La folle maman said…
I agree that it's a division of labor and yes, some of the jobs tend to be sexist on both sides. But I think in some couples there are things one person does that might be out of their "designated" area. I'm sure there are still some things you do that aren't in the "female" realm and with Pumpkin in the picture, there's undoubtedly some things Londo does that are outside his "male" realm.

It's evident not only by the posts on your blog but the conversations we have that you are not helpless.
Anonymous said…
I completely agree. My husband is physically very strong, and even though I could easily lift/move stuff myself, it's hard not to have him do it for me.
nutmeg96 said…
At first, I was going to say, "Steve knows how to feed himself but that doesn't mean he cooks." But lately he has been cooking a lot. Then I thought "Steve knows how to clean the kitchen but that doesn't mean he's scrubbing the stovetop." But actually he does that more that I do. And the list goes on. The only thing I do more than 90% of the time is go grocery shopping.

I think we just like being pampered. :)
Shellie said…
Pampered, definitely. Or an need to be pampered. You gotta watch it and not become too independent nor too dependent, either. I like how you were raised, I hope I'm doing the same.
Colleen said…
division of labor...and very definitely NOT dependency, laziness, or being pampered. There's a huge difference. I often ask Justin to do things that I can do, but that he can more easily do because he is taller/stronger, etc. Or because I already have a lot going on and can't get to it whereas he might have more room in his schedule. It's part of the give-and-take in marriages these days, particularly when both people work outside the home.
As for the trip? well, it's only natural that you'd want to share a trip with the love of your life.

I'm Not Skippy will probably need to sit down with his wife and calmly list the things that need to be done regularly (daily/weekly, etc) and divy them up. I did that with Justin a few years ago and it made a world of difference because I was dying under the crush of household chores, mommy duty, and working full-time outside the home. He didn't really realize at the time all that was being covered but once he did, he was fine with it and it has worked out well, for the most part.
Tranny Head said…
It's a combination of pampered and lazy, I'm afraid. I suffer from the same disease. So - my husband has been gone in Iraq since November. In that time, I've fixed countless toilet clogs, sink clogs, car stuff, and yes, I have even tied stuff to the roof of my car all alone. But when he was here for two weeks on his leave? You'd better believe I was all over that like white on rice and made him change lightbulbs, gas up the car, and do the dishes.

Yeah. I understand. And RESPECT it.

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