Friday, August 28, 2009

To Be A Woman

I realize it's Friday and, historically speaking, I should be doing a Fabulous Five post, but I've had a thought rolling around in my quiet brain for a few weeks and I didn't even realize it until today. It's remained an unconscious thought until this morning when it suddenly forced it's way through to the forefront of my mind and conjured itself into a blog essay before my eyes. (well, my mind's eye)

(To preface my thoughts I'll say that I've never really considered myself much of a feminist, but I do believe that women are absolutely capable of doing anything they decide to. This post is not intended as an argument for the role of a woman, it is simply my thoughts on my own role as a woman. I'll just leave it at that.)

One morning, a few months ago, I stood next to Dustin in front of the mirror in the bathroom. I think we were both brushing our teeth. My thoughts for the previous several days had dwelt on men and women, their roles, their differences. You see, I had just read a book that was set in a different time when men had to be warriors. A time when they had to protect and defend their wives, families and country. Dustin and I were both bare shouldered because it was morning and we weren't dressed yet. As we were standing next to each other in front of the mirror, I couldn't help but observe the differences between he and I, a man and a woman. His shoulders are broad, well-muscled and strong. While I am a fairly strong woman, I relished the study of his shoulder versus mine. I looked so small next to him. So delicate. So... feminine.

As I marveled at these differences, I made him turn sideways next to me and I said to him, "Look at that! Look how small my shoulder is compared to yours. I bet you could fit three of my little shoulders into one of yours!" He laughed, his mouth full of toothpaste, but didn't say anything.

Did this difference bother me? No! Did I wish for his shoulders, his musculature, in myself? Of course not! To wish such a thing would, in my opinion, be a physical obscurity. I like my small frame and the role that it plays in my life. His broad shoulders could be a warrior's shoulders, if the need arose. They could defend his wife and his children. These thoughts stirred up feelings of security and safety in my heart.

I have mentioned on this blog that a friend of ours recently passed away, leaving behind a wife and two small children. As we went to the viewing and hugged each of his family members who attended his body, his newly-widowed wife hugged me fiercely and, through her sobs, conveyed to me that this just isn't fair! She didn't want this. This wasn't supposed to happen. They were supposed to grow old together! She isn't supposed to be a widow at 28 years old! Her feelings of confusion, anger, heartache and sorrow washed over me. All I could do was sob and tell her I'm sorry.

I'm sure anyone in my situation would've done just as I did, hug her back and cry with her, but as I did, I couldn't stop the images of myself, just three years older than she, mourning the loss of my own husband. What would that be like? I pray I will never know.

The weeks have passed since that day but the memory of it has not left me, nor have the feelings and questions evoked by the event. As time moves on and these thoughts hover just outside my awareness, I have been filled with gratitude for the roles we play, gratitude for my husband and his willingness to provide for his family, his willingness to love and cherish me, his willingness to be a man. Not only willingness, but fervor. Ferocity. Total dedication and devotion. I know that as long as he is here on earth, by my side, I will never have to worry about our bills being paid. He is our provider and my husband and he feels validated by these roles.

If tragedy were to strike my family, I know I could take care of myself and that I could provide for my family if the need arose. I've always known that and I have confidence in myself and my capabilities. That being said, the events of the last few weeks made me realize that I cherish being taken care of. It is a privilege and a blessing. I treasure that my husband's main desire is to provide for his wife and his children. I honor the fact that he is a man who wants to be the breadwinner. I relish my role of being a feminine woman who knows she can take care of herself, but allows her husband the honor of doing it for her.

And, for me in my life, knowing my capabilities and allowing myself to be dependent on my husband despite what I can do is my definition of being a woman.


Kristin said...

I love this... and Amen! This is beautifully written and thought out... it may be starting some musings on my part. I also enjoy this role, the part I'm playing. It works for me and I'm grateful for it! :)

P.S. Take a look at this blog and see if you think your friend might benefit from visiting it.

That link is to the first of her trial.

Rachel Chick said...

Love it, Clanc! You are awesome - I love it when you write!

Chatty Natty said...

Well said....I couldn't agree with you more. And I've missed your writings:)

As to the post by Kristin, the blog she mentions is a couple I graduated from high school very age. In fact, I was close friends with Aaron's older brother and Aaron dated a friend of mine all through high school. Such a tragedy and to happen to such a wonderful family. I marvel at how the entire family has dealt with the sudden change, his mother being the biggest hero of all.

It's all so strange because I feel as if there are so many right now left in such a very strange.

Ginny said...

Beautifully said. You have captured the essence of what I consider to be the perfect feminist. Amen and amen and amen!!!

Maria Hart said...

We all want to love and to be loved... to be needed. Gender and age have little bearing on this truth. In fact, it is one of the wonderful sealants that bind a good relationship together. One of the traits I most admire about John, and I have seen Dustin manifest as well, is his ability to know when I need help (protection, intervention, advice, taking over, stepping in, etc.) and when I am really capable of handling the issue on my own (even if I don't want to). I want to fix everything. John simply knows what he can fix. I, too, revel in the differences between Man and Woman: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Sometimes those differences are very clear, sometimes there is overlap. Still, they are the source of the greatest challenges and greatest blessings of my marriage. Thanks for the tender perspective.

triplej said...

Clancy..I cannot even see through the tears. And you can see by the time of this post that I should be in bed but the thoughts and memories keep flowing like melted butter on hot popcorn. That was the most beautiful rendition of the last few weeks that I have read or heard. I can't imagine not having you as a friend. Thank you for being there for my family...can't wait to see you guys soon. I will pass the above mentioned website onto my sister-in-law.
Love you.

Emily Clark said...

I believe this world would be a much better place if people would accept the fact that men and women are different. Men and women are capable of doing the same things; however, there is no denying the fact that we are different. We always have been. We always will be.

Over the past few months, ever since Belle was born in fact, I have struggled with my role as a mother, wife, and woman.

Before Belle was born, the roles Dustin and I played were very similar. We both worked full-time (at one point, I was making more than him), we both helped around the house, we both cooked, etc. Now that I am a stay at home mom, our roles seem to be very defined, very separate. He goes to work and I take care of the house.

It's been a struggle for me to be completely dependent on Dustin financially. For so much of my life, work was my identity. I was Emily Clark. Account Manager making a certain amount of money. Have you ever noticed how often people ask you "what you do?" Meaning, what kind of job do you have? How can a job NOT become your identity? I know it's possible, but I didn't realize how much I depended on my job as a way of feeling worthwhile.

The past few weeks have been very special for me, though. I've bonded and grown close to Isabelle and have FINALLY been able to appreciate my role as a mother as a legitimate role. I never expected to feel this way before I became a mother. I always thought I would feel productive being a mother. Unfortunately, I didn't at first, and I'm so glad I've reached that point.

Clancy Pants said...

Thanks for all your comments, everyone!

Emily, thanks for sharing your comment! I love to hear this and I'm happy for you that you've reached an equilibrium! Congrats! What a good place to be in.

Dimick's said...

Caleb and I just happened to read your entry together. We are both so impressed with how well you can beautifully express what's on your mind. What a wonderful tribute to your man, and to yourself!
I love you.

Janelle said...

Hey Clancy. I wrote a similar post here.

I see the first picture is now missing, but it was church lady from Saturday Night Live.

That post was fine for my personal blog, but I am an administrator at and it was a little too saucy for that venue. Your post hits a message that I think is really important in a gentler way. Would you mind contacting me at

Oh, is a member missionary website designed to put accurate and uplifting information about LDS women on the Internet. Check it out too.

Thank you,


Travis said...

I like this post. Your insight into being feminine is intriguing. You fully realize that you have equality while understanding the differences between men and women. It seems a healthy attitude to me.

Clancy Pants said...

Thanks, Travis! Feels healthy to me too. Glad to have your comments again!