who does she think she is?

I will never forget when I announced to my former mother-in-law that I was going to start working at the temple.
"I think it's great, but can you really do it all? I think you've got to give something else up."
She was almost right. My schedule was fully loaded. I was working full-time in the garment manufacturing plant, volunteering teaching NAMI classes once a week, teaching in Relief Society, taking a class at BYU, and struggling for survival in a demanding and unhealthy marriage.
I'm not sure if I ever said it out loud to anyone, but this repeated silently in my head all of the time:
I am absolutely convinced that I can do everything.

And I was right. I accomplished and balanced that whole list with great success. Taking care of myself catalyzed the courage to leave and insist on divorce. It was like catching a glimpse of my true identity made me see how necessary is was to get myself back.

I've been a little weird lately, just the past couple of weeks. Lonely, self-conscious; lacking energy to accomplish my many obligations.

Tonight in the seminar class that I TA for, we watched a documentary called "Who Does She Think She Is?" It's about women artists who attempt to do it all: marriage, mothering, art. Somehow it struck such a chord with me that I had to hold back tears. I was reminded of my propensity to give myself up in order to please others and how I must fight it.

It's inspired me to make this public manifesto: I am not holding back. I am going to be the type of women I think I should and can be. And I am still absolutely convinced that I can do everything.

It's vague enough that nobody will know what that really means excepting for myself, but that doesn't matter. It's got to be public lest I forget.

The documentary also reminded me of how elusive my dreams of romance can be. There is a Mormon woman highlighted in the film who maintains her marriage, but the majority of the others are/get divorced.

My brother read this poem aloud to my family the first time we gathered to see his new child. He wrote it for his wife while she was in labor. I can't think of a better way to describe what am looking for in a marriage other than to just post it:


When, I, as a child, to earth did come

The number to which I belonged, was One

--One King of The Mountain, alone I would be

--One winner of all things I wanted for me

--One boy to be cared for—my needs to sustain

--One boy to be heard—all my joy and my pain

And what’er the problems of others might be

The real ones counting—they added to me

For when weighing the listings of tasks to be done

Important ones seemingly upheld my ONE

And all was quite perfect, for shouldn’t it be

That that which was worthwhile supported my Me?

And life, I had figured, was fantastic and fun

As long as it nurtured the concept of One

And then came the day that I flew into you

My One bursting into a beautiful Two

For two on life’s lakes far outshines the one

Bearing twice the joy with a bigger sun

And ideas of One: so soon surpassed

By the wholeness of us two, at last

And blessed with your love I’ve grown stone sure

That I’ll return to One no more

For like a weak broth has One become

Next the banquet of Two—its joy and its sun

--The best part of me I’ve now offered to you

As I’ve happily rambled this world of Two

For even in moments when wand’ring apart

I now beat for Two, within my heart

And my anthem become something much richer and true

By embracing the treasure of living for Two

And to this moment we’ve come at last

When our love of two has been surpassed

Like a conqu’ring sea against the shore

Our family’s love now beats for more

So to us, my love, no wonder it be

That the marvel of Two now blossoms to Three

And like the castle on bulwarks stands

The pow’r of three it takes command

O’er an accounting of life’s most important of parts

And affixes them, soundly, within our hearts

No longer partakers alone will we be

But Creators and Stewards to care for our Three

And I wonder—though trav’ling lands mystic and tall

If this won’t be our greatest adventure of all?

--One to out-do the luster of life’s former shines?

--One to forge a foundation outlasting mere time?

Yes, a symphony much more complete will life be

In tending our priceless garden of Three

And so now, with hands held, and hearts free to soar

We shall nurture our Three, God’s entrustment of More

And to you—my love—all respect do I give

The purpose and reason I now choose to live

For life’s greatest treasures I attribute to you

My perfect, miraculous treasure of Two

For what’er life’s torrents might possibly be

With you at my side, we’ll now revel in Three.


Hilary-Dilary-Dock said...

You can delete this message if you find it too personal. We however wanted to affirm how much we love you, and stand in amazement at the beautiful person that you are becoming! I know that God is mindful of you and has a special plan prepared, for you are one of His choicest masterpieces. While the loneliness, insecurity, and fatigue are transient, the strength acquired will forever add to your person. Who are we? We are children of God. That knowledge gives us immense potential, and power to become whatever we justly want to be.

whitney joy said...

Wow, this poem is powerful. It has brought tears to my eyes, thank you for posting it.

Didn't know Carl was a poet.

Carroll said...

Whenever a child is born to me, I ask that child "who are you?" and then follow up with "It's going to be fun to find out!" what a wonderful adventure it has been. I can say honestly "I have amazing children!" This may sound as though I am bragging, but I have had very little to do with it. Continue my daughter guided by the one who raises you better than your parents. What surprises lay ahead?! It will be good and boy is it fun finding out!

MiriamR said...

You really can do everything! As long as you think you can you can. When I was at byu so many "councelors" told me I was taking too many classes doing too many things. All the advise was unasked for and annoying. The most annoying was when I was pregnant with my son. One of my teachers in this easy class I took just to fill credits (it was a how to study and take notes class) told me I should drop at least two classes because I would never be able to do it. She made me first doubt myself but then I got angry at her and decided I would prove I could do it and with flying colors. I had Alexander earlier than expected which made it difficult but I got good grades in every class that semester and didn't extend the semester like so many teachers told me I could.
Just think you can and you can and you obviously can do it all!!

mim said...

Important lesson of doing everything: You need a kill face that you can make before going to battle. Steve Salipante made me come up with one. It was never to his satisfaction, but it always makes me laugh when I am scared or nervous. (Yes. I secretly still use it from time to time)