A Bazaar Review: Resonating with Gemma Hartley

I commented on this article in the HerStories Facebook group before I actually read it, stating that the title can pretty much be used for any demographic that isn’t a white male.

Then I read it.

Reading articles like Women Aren’t Nags—We’re Just Fed Up make me want to kick myself for worrying too much about expressing exactly how I feel publicly on my blog. I mean, if this is what people are reading in highly reputable magazines, I have a strong feeling they’ll like my thoughts, as well as every other working stay at home mom’s story. I’m not saying I will be in Harper’s Bazaar after the first or maybe 1st-hundredth blog I write; however, Gemma Hartley exposes everything I have been dealing with personally, elegantly in each sentence. As if we are one woman and she is yanking my thoughts out, then tossing them all willy-nilly on paper for others to read and judge.

Then I realize, I’m just reading an article on-line, and she’s a magical mami that writes essays for Harper Bazaar while I’m over here in the Costa Rican jungle living that ‘Pura Vida’ life, nickel and diming my words.

What we do have in common, however, is how we feel about our situations.

“Even having a conversation about the imbalance of emotional labor becomes emotional labor.”

Logic is the light that illuminates her response to her daily life, and creativity is the switch, which connects her ability to gracefully lay herself out bare with her words. But what shines brightest in her text is her ability to balance it all. Her ability to analyze it enough to beautifully articulate it – which seems to be done easily by her but I assure you, it is not- into something everyone needs to read, while still keeping her shit together and not assaulting her partner with crazy lady logic every time he does dumb shit like leaving the wrapping paper 5 feet from where it was before he used it.

Even more relatable to my life, I am a freelance writer and mom that does it all as well: pays the bills, controls the budget, makes sure the list that is daily life with a family gets done, and done efficiently. I also find all the stuff that is right in front of everybody’s face.

“I know compared to many women, including female family members and friends, I have it so easy… It feels greedy, at times, to want more from [my husband].”

Our lives may not look the same aesthetically, but I’m confident it’s the same. I’m fascinated at Hartley’s ability to utilize her craft to present how I feel while reassuring all of us emotional labored women we aren’t alone in those feelings. Even more, for us, we have someone in our corner with the fearlessness of sharing those emotions in a way that everyone can relate to, which makes them want to read and write reviews about it.

Relateable is an Understatement

As a new mother, I wanted to present all these beautifully aggressive lessons to my daughter so as she grows, she won’t continue to carry the trauma I have embedded in my DNA. However, I realized by incubating those toxic thoughts, I am harboring and sharing exactly that, toxic thought. I have to let it go, clear my mind, and just flow with what we are doing day to day; be in the moment.

She is new at breathing, and I am new at changing poopy diapers.

“Our sons can still learn to carry their own weight. Our daughter can learn to not carry others’.”

What is important is that I am aware that some lessons should be established upfront while some can be held hostage until I have the energy to provide guidance in them. I need my daughter to continually be aware of precisely what Hartley points out in this article throughout every stage of her life though, which is our daughters do not have to and should learn not to carry the weight of others just because they are capable of doing so sanely.

I do not want her to be a dumping ground for others’ incompetence and lack of personal responsibility. Or even deeper, for their subconscious need to get their ego’s stroked.

Like Hartley, I also agree that I somewhat enjoy being in control to an extent. I know what to do and have analyzed every move my family is making as they do pretty much anything in life. Furthermore, I have been programmed to always be a step ahead, always making sure everything is “in the bag”, setting everything up for easy access so we aren’t digging for gold in the middle of the grocery store checkout line. All those things daddy’s usually and mostly unintentionally take for granted.

Now, every time I get ready to mobilize my emotional-labor triggers, I’m going to replay the words, “Emotional labor is the unpaid job men still don’t understand,” in my head as I loathe and love, and do the damn job anyway. I will be rolling my eyes while I walk by and aggressively fondle the laundry, making sure it is dry before my partner folds it, even if it does hurt his feelings that I micromanage and mess up his lackluster folding job. I have to, or the clothes will get moldy and smell funny damn it! While I shuffle away and remind myself, we are all doing the best we can while we try to break through the patri-archaic programming.

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