Too many hats on my plate

Too many hats on my plate
Art by Lori Mercuri McDonough (longtime friend and wearer of MANY hats)

 You know that expression people use to describe a person who has many different roles to play, “She wears many hats.”  It’s annoying to me because it gives the impression that there is actually an option for any of us NOT to play many roles in life yet I can’t think of a better metaphor for describing the crazy concept (and believe me I have tried). I like saying," I have a lot on my plate." That one sounds more like I'm noshing on some aweomse grub instead of drowining in responsibility.

Being a human being means that we will have contact with other human beings PERIOD. Even the most withdrawn and anti-social people have connections.  Being human is hard work, and we choose most of our roles whether we realize it or not. I CHOSE to have children, but like anyone else who becomes a parent I had no idea how fantastically unprepared I was for the role. Let me tell you something else, the mom hat is an ill-fitting, frequently uncomfortable accessory. Of course eating too much is also uncomfortable, but the metaphoric portion control is easier when you are NOT at the all you HAVE to eat buffet of life. 

 I did NOT choose to be a daughter, yet THIS role was supposed to be an easy one, right?  Until recently, the daughter hat has always been the most beautiful, comfortable and perfect fitting hat. I thought that it was a timeless piece that would always be in fashion, but just as I was unprepared for parenthood, I was grossly unprepared for the day when I would not have a parent to look out for me and make me feel safe.

As parents we have an unspoken understanding of each other’s struggles and challenges. We attempt to surround ourselves with people who support us in the journey and understand the complexity of the role. It is a journey that only ends with our death (or God forbid in some cases the death of a child). The role of a child seems that is so simple right?

Wrong, because whether our parents are dead or alive, we will always be somebody’s child, and this role comes with more hats than there are heads on a hydra. People are living longer than ever before. These long lives are part blessing and part curse. The curse is what forges even stronger connections between us as humans, while adding roles to our lives that come with hats that are more like crowns of thorns.

Some people get to watch their parents live healthy, active and independent lives while getting to extend their childhood a bit, just knowing that they are in some way still being watched over and cared for.  Others have the displeasure of watching debilitating and painful illness turn them into heartbroken and exhausted caregivers and/or adult orphans. I never imagined being in charge of my own mother, guiding her and keeping her safe. It is the most special and lonely, precious and painful experience of my life.

As always, I have a suggestion that can help with the hat problem. GET CONNECTED and to use another hat metaphor, “pass the hat.” Be generous with your support to your fellow hat wearers. I see time, treasure and talent represented by things like shared experience, advice, and support (in any form, from money and meals to hugs and or a shoulder to cry on).

That’s why I love what Moms Who Drink and Swear has become for many, and I am so proud to wear this particular hat lately. I don't feel guilty for complaining. I don't want to be the repressed, short tempered, martyr who has a complete breakdown because I can't ask for help. I used to ask my mom for everything, not realizing that her plate was full of hats. I used to wonder why she would sit there at the kitchen table drinking wine with a friend, laughing, or meet friends for cards or dinner. Why was she leaving me? Now I understand. Without my friends, I'd be the conductor of the crazy train.

Remember bitches, you are only alone by CHOICE. Know your role(s), embrace them and wear/and pass those hats, even when you have a lot on your plate.

Art by Lori Mercuri McDonough at http://www.etsy.com/shop/whimsystudios, a dear, old friend, mother of 4 and wearer of MANY hats.

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  • asking for help when your many hats are falling into the crap on your plate is so important. there are days when you can see the crazy train coming, and sometimes you forget to ask for help, or you think you can do it all on your own. asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it means that you are strong, but can only do so many strong things at once. you think "i dont need help, i can do this myself". but sharing a hat, or giving something off your plate can be so relieving.

  • In reply to AmandaRoss:

    it's a must. sometimes knowing what to ask for is the problem. it's a mom thing to try to own all of it, huh? xo, amanda.

  • fb_avatar

    This brought tears to my eyes for so many reasons. Love you my friend and need you in my life like the air I breathe.... xo

  • In reply to Lisa Dee:

    miss you. i know your plate is full of hats. thanks, sister.

  • Nic.

    This is genius! It describes us moms perfectly. And it brought tears to my eyes too. xxoo, my friend.

  • In reply to Jules:

    glad you liked it. i know you understand.

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    What can I say? You are amazing and the thing about you is you are the wisest of wise. Your are an extraordinary woman and the fact that youve got this gift that makes us al realize that we aren't alone. Even if it is the middle of the day, in an empty room, waiting for the next hat to come lofting through the door and knowing that I am not the only one that goes through this so why cant handle it. You give me strength my dear friend and bring sensibility to my life and for that I thank you for being you and your wonderful insight.

  • thanks, erin. i don't know that i'm wise, but i'm observant and i learn quickly. i think that makes a difference. love back at you.

  • Love this, love you. Regarding the daughter hat that is fitting a little differently these days, some of the most tender, touching moments I had with my Mom were when our roles were reversed and I was caring for her. Toileting her, washing her sheets, clipping her toe nails, bathing her - - things you never imagined doing for your Mom. It was an honor and privilege and taught me amazing things about love and about myself. You are the kind of daughter that can do those things, too. Not all can. It is a gift, even though it hurts like hell at times, and Lordy, does it make you tired, but still, a gift. I've said it before and I will say it again. I heart you, bitch.

  • In reply to Mary Tyler Mom:

    love you mary tyler mom of awesome. when you call me "bitch" it makes me joyful.

  • fb_avatar

    Fabulous!!!!

  • In reply to Amy McEvilly:

    shut up, bestie. you can't be objective cause we are like family. xo

  • fb_avatar

    Nic-
    This is wonderful. I have worn many of the hats- and some of them are on the shelf now, replaced by others. Sometimes, like today, you remind me of things I need to remember--a long distance slap upside the head from a sister in this crazy life

  • In reply to Margaret DeMaio:

    but it is an open handed slap and more like a gentle tap. xo hang in there, baby.

  • fb_avatar

    You have just become my favorite blogger. Congratulations.

  • In reply to Erica Voss:

    that's alot of pressure. i hope i can continue to earn it. thank you. ;)

  • fb_avatar

    Love all your blogs, but have to love this one more. As a Mom of a child with special needs, and a daughter of a Dad with advanced cancer, I definitely have "alot on my plate". You seem to know just what to say, keeping it real, no glitter, no rainbows. Well done...

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