Thursday, January 3, 2013

Kelly & Julia

I've written about my love/hate relationship with the show Parenthood before.  I love it because it's so real, and I hate it for the same reason.  I love it because it's one of the few well written dramas left on television, and I hate it because it makes me cry every week.

Some of the story lines hit close to home, and some of them hit way too close to home.  I can relate to just about all of them, save a few.

Though this season has been focused primarily on Christina's cancer diagnosis (which gets under my skin for the obvious reason that cancer is an asshole and has messed with my life more than once), the story that has torn at my heart the most isn't about her at all.

It's the one about Julia.

The mom who can do everything.  Who can parent her perfect daughter, who can kick ass and take names as a high powered attorney, who can prepare organic home cooked meals every day, who makes time for her adoring husband, who can do it all.

Her.

This season, she and her husband adopted an older child.  The dynamics of the family have been rocked, and she quickly found herself unable to balance it all.  The episode where she ended up on the floor in the kitchen crying hysterically hit home.  Oh, did it hit home.

For as long as this show has existed, I've compared myself to Julia.  I was supposed to be her.  I was supposed to be the high powered attorney with everything balanced perfectly.

She's the smart one.  She's the strong one.  She's the stoic one.  She's the responsible one.  She's the one other people turn to.

Just like me.

Life had other plans for me, but I never let go of that idealized image of what was supposed to be.  I constantly compared myself to her.  She could do it, why couldn't I?  Why wasn't I able?  Why wasn't I capable?

Then she ended up in a heap on the floor this season, and I knew.


That was why.

She couldn't do it.  I couldn't do it.  No one can.

People ask me all the time when I'll go back to law, as though I was ever really there in the first place.  Those same people, not understanding how the field really works, couldn't possibly fathom the amount of time that I'd have to devote to it, even assuming I could find someone to hire me when I have not practiced in 12 years.  Good luck with that, by the way.  People don't understand that I don't have the passion for it anymore.  Maybe I never did, if I'm being truly honest with myself.

We can't do it all, and we need to stop expecting that we can.  We need to stop letting society tell us we are failures if we can't.  We need to stop telling ourselves the same thing.

We need to find that balance, and finding it probably means that we need to take some stuff off the scales first.  

I'm not really Wonder Woman, even if I look like her when I put the costume on.

Maybe I'm more like Julia than I thought.

And that is okay.

This song, one of my favorites, makes me cry every time.  This video contains a clip at 1.19 of the scene where she collapsed on the floor, the one that made me cry more than any other scene in the history of the show.  I was on the floor with her.


When you try your best, but you don't succeed....
lights will guide you home
and ignite your bones
and I will try to fix you.

30 comments:

  1. I think we are ALL a bit like Julia; taking on more than we can truly handle, expecting more of ourselves than we are truly capable of giving or doing, striving for perfection. You have strength in knowing your weaknesses and you have a whole team of people here to help lift you back up and dry your tears <3 LOVE YOU.

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  2. It took me a long time to realize I couldn't do it all. The day I cracked was horrible, the next day was worse. The next week when I hadn't done anything and the kids and the house were still standing- the best day of my life. The day when you KNOW, and I mean really know it is ok not be everyones everything, is the point in parenthood that you actually start to like it. Realize it's not hard, it's about juggling, rearranging and putting pieces of a puzzle together. So many parents have put on this facade of perfection, I love it when you "meet" real parents, not the fake version.

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    1. The cruel irony for me was that when I'd finally begun to make my peace with it all, the rest of my life fell apart. Then I had to ask myself if sacrificing who I should have been for who I was could possibly be worth it if it was all a lie. Sigh. Someday, I'll write about that.

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  3. Oh wow. I'm glad that you stopped over to my page today and led me to you and this post. I've been trying to decide whether to start watching this show or not, and now I think I will. I identify so completely. I was the smart one in my family. The one that everyone thought was going to have some awesome big shot career and do pioneering things in mental health. I was supposed to be a doctor. And I'm not. And I sometimes resent it. It's nice to see that no one is perfect and that this life that I envision myself to have had, would be no easier, no better than the one I have now. And who's to say if I'd even have my kids and my husband; the lights of my world. So yes, I will watch this show now. I'll be following your blog now. And I'll let go a little more today from the dream that I am trying to convince myself that I really, truly WASN'T suppose to have.

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    1. It is hard,HARD, to let go of it Took me years, and I don't pretend to be done with it fully. Sigh. Glad to find you today.

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  4. I needed this right now.....I still struggle to do it all and be it all. And in the long run I fail at most of it because it's too overwhelming. I came from a family where mom worked as a teacher. We had home-cooked meals every night and cooked breakfast every morning. The house was always clean, picked up, and organized. I still wonder how she did it all.....I am so far away from that and struggle to be OK with that. I've started keeping a book with quotes that resonate with me and I will be adding this today:

    We can't do it all, and we need to stop expecting that we can. We need to stop letting society tell us we are failures if we can't. We need to stop telling ourselves the same thing.

    We need to find that balance, and finding it probably means that we need to take some stuff off the scales first.

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  5. Oh Kelly, you and I are so alike that reading your blog often feels like I am reading my own mind. I struggle with this- every. single. day. I was the teacher in the South Bronx making a difference, living in the City, and living my dream. I couldn't afford to raise kids in NYC and I wanted to be near our families. Now we are in Simi, which in itself makes you feel like you have gone nowhere, and I teach online so I can be home with my kids. I miss the classroom every single day. I miss contributing to something that is bigger than me. Teaching is who I am. I spend nights looking up PhD programs online and contemplating my next career move but the reality is I choose to work where I do so that I can be with my kids during this time that is so special and so fleeting. I battle with myself everyday with my decision to work from home but I know I would never do it any other way.
    I was like you were- the girl with the plan, the career, the life- but I wouldn't change a thing.
    My friends think I have this whole parenting thing down to T. A good friend of mine called to cry and meltdown about having a newborn and I shared with her what I went through after Spencer and I how I know have diagnosed Anxiety and Panic disorder. She couldn't believe it. I am the one who has it all together and makes it look so easy. She wanted to know why I didn't tell her any of this when it was happening. Two reasons- 1) I am hyper aware of my image and for some crazy reason I drive myself into further anxiety trying to maintain it and 2) as harsh as it sounds it's hard to explain to someone who doesn't have children.
    Thank you for writing this. You are my Julia today. You made me feel a little more normal :)

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    1. These are the times I miss all you people back home the most. I didn't tell anyone I had PPD for the same exact reason. Everyone else was so sure I had my life together, I had to make it look good. Love you. xo

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    2. After revealing myself to my friend I have been toying with the idea of blogging about my Panic and Anxiety to just vent and possibly help other people feel more normal. I just don't have the time right now. :(

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  6. My daring daughter, you are perfect just the way you are - please don't expect more of yourself than you are able to give. You are a marveslous mom, wife, woman - I am very proud of yo.

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  7. Whoa this one blew me away--you got right to the core of it. There have been many, MANY times when I was in a heap on the bathroom floor, weeping because I felt like I had to be the worst mother in the world, especially to my youngest who has always tried my patience. We argue quite a bit perhaps because we are so much alike---but I am the one left shaking and weeping from anger and confusion. I am SO close to my other three and rarely have an issue with them, but this youngest boy, who is now 17, is the one to give me grey hairs. And I will admit this here and now--not one of my proudest parenting moments--my boy ran away when he was 14--hopped on a bus and headed way north. I never saw it coming and it was THE second most terrifying moment in my life. I was on my knees sobbing that day and blaming myself. It changed my entire view on parenting and I am trying my damnedest to be a good mother to him now. Things are %100 better now, but I have never forgotten, nor will I ever. There IS no such thing as a perfect parent.

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  8. Well, you know me. I'm always pulled together. Every day. Not a problem. So...kind of hard to relate...

    :)

    xo

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    1. I know. Jeebus. Stop being perfect. xo

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  9. We shouldn't even try to handle it all. Where's the fun in life if we are too busy trying to be perfect at everything? We're not perfect. And we shouldn't be. We're not supposed to be! That's just how life it. Imperfect... Which makes it better!

    Hugs!

    Valerie

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  10. I applaud you for starting out with grand intentions! I pretty much accepted massive failure the second I found out I was pregnant. I was on the floor in a heap Day #1.

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    1. First of all, I totally don't believe that. Second, we make a fantastic sobbing heap. xo

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  11. I have been that girl on the floor crying because I couldn't handle it all. And then . . . I learned that I can't do it all. Hell I can barely do SOME. And that's okay. Learn to forgive yourself, and praise your successes.

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  12. I think it's about time we all stopped trying to be Julia! It's the 21st century...we should know by now that it's okay! I love your honesty and am so glad that you wrote this!! {{hugs}}

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  13. I was HER! I was her every minute of everyday, until that day July 12, 2010 I woke up and Callun didn't my world was forever changed. I tried for a long time just to be a piece of what I was before. Now I know I am "just me". Getting sick and willing my self out of that hospital bed before Callun's Angel day was so important to me. Not going back to the hospital is an every day goal for me. Being here for the little people I have on Earth is a blessing, every day no matter how trying. I don't always realize this until I go to bed at night with them all tucked in safe and sound. Everyone tells me "things happen for a reason", I am still looking for the reason, I cannot for a second think that the reason was for me to slow down. That hurts to much. One day when I can hold Callun in my arms I will know the reason, He will tell me, and I again will be whole. For now I am just grateful to have each moment with the boys that I am given. I am slower, I am clumsier, I am no longer super mom. But I am doing my best with what I have to give them and I try my damnedest to be the best every day I am here with them.

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    1. My sweet, dear Ang...anyone who tells you there is a reason doesn't know what they are talking about. You are the strongest woman I know, and I love you.

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  14. fantastiche. quality work, quality piece. really. if i said anything more i'd be plagiarizing someone else's comments. good stuff here, K.

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  15. This is so great. I think any mom can relate. I can't seem to even manage to get half of "having it all" done. I don't have a job outside of the home and I STILL have a messy house and bills paid late and my daughter and I often have matching food stains running down our shirts. It's so hard to accept our own limitations. I rail against my imperfections and have had several collapse in a heap moments. I guess it is all part of coming to terms with that middle ground between what we *should* be and what we actually are. It's not always easy that's for sure.

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  16. While I know in my mind that I can't do it all, I have not been able to let go of trying. All that does is make me sit on the couch trying to figure out how to do it all and then I get overwhelmed and do nothing. Feels like an endless, useless cycle.

    Michelle

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