Monday, January 12, 2009

I am a torn woman.

I came across this quote while reading this woman’s entire blog (I don't know how I find these, I really don't) on Friday:

Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. … We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith.”

I’ve been thinking about these words all weekend. They struck a chord, and here's why: I am a woman torn.

I frequently feel this way; it’s nothing new. I have always been a girl with two separate halves and beings. I long for a place in the city, for a brownstone in Boston or a studio in New York. I want inner-city transportation and hamburger joints that are open past midnight. But there’s this other part of me, though. The part that wants quiet and open space. A front porch with a swing, bicycle rides past farmhouses with big yards.

These two parts continue. Part of me wants to stay home and wear sweatpants, take care of our little apartment. I want to cook and read and enjoy my home. Then this other part wants to wear clothes straight out of Lucky magazine, have a job and career that fulfills me, and travel the world in the process. I want to bring home the bacon and eat take-out while watching The Office.

I can’t figure out how to make these two halves of me equal a whole.

So when I found this quote, it didn’t surprise me that I didn’t quite know how I felt about it.
Oh, I think it’s true. No doubt about it. I believe the world needs more tenderness, more kindness, more faith. But then there is that other, and admittedly, smaller part of me that thinks, “Why not toughness? Why not fame and fortune? Why can’t I be both?

Which reminds me of this conversation that took place recently, that explained to me a little bit of why these two halves of me exist:

J: “I think I’m finally figuring out how you are who you are.”

A (laughing): “What do you mean?”

J: “After watching all these Gilmore Girl and Mary Tyler Moore Show episodes, I’m starting to figure you out. I get why you are the way you are.”

Why I am the way I am? What does that mean, I wonder? But then I understood what he meant.

I am a girl who was raised to know that meekness and tenderness are virtues. That women are meant to submit to their husbands, to be gentle with those they come in contact with. And yet I was also raised to speak my mind, to take a stand. I was raised to be an independent thinker, to get an education, to use that education. My role models were Anne Shirley and Jo March, Mary Richards and Rory Gilmore.

What does this mean? Here’s what I don’t think it means: I don’t think it means I’ll make a terrible mother, or that I won’t let my husband wear the pants. I don’t think it means I can’t be gentle, or meek, or tender.

I do think it means my husband and I will have a partnership. I will speak my mind, give my opinion, but ultimately trust my husband to make the right decision. It means I will raise my children to be independent thinkers, to read, to expand their minds, to discover who they are, to create. It means I will always be growing, always be thinking, always be discovering. I will aim for tenderness and kindness, and sometimes I will miss.

It means I will not be a woman of the world. I will be a woman of faith. I will be a woman of faith who is independent and tough, but who is also tender and kind, just like these women: Abigail and Mary, Deborah and Esther. These are my other role models, the ones I really wanted to become. Women with intelligence and independence, toughness and meekness. Women of faith. Women of God. Women who were imperfect, but loved and used by God.

I have two halves, but I can see how they are becoming whole.


Cory said...

I think you are better suited for my job than I am. Want to come back to Birmingham and take it over?

jenna said...

Annie. This gave me chills. For real. I think I see why we get along so well... we have similar pieces.

Sarah Louise said...

Once when a (then newly ex-)boyfriend and I had a we-just-broke-up-and-let's-talk-about-it-talk, he told me he wanted me to think about four things. I've forgotten two of them. But one of the two I remember was this: he wanted me to think about how my consumption of media had affected the way I thought about romantic relationships.

Despite feeling like Fanny Price from the movie version of Mansfield Park (I don't remember if she said this in the book) and wanting to say, "I am an unabashed novel reader, sir, but I do not think it has clouded my judgment," I kind of loved that he had been trying to put together the media icons I looked to and how I was/saw the world.

Like J (your husband?) did here. Love it. It's great.

Also, The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She really is great, isn't she? So great. Who knew?