Funny thing, women, no? We're so...female. We like jewelry and clothing and purses and...helping people.
Do you detect a faint note of...cynicism, perhaps? How astute! Okay, here's the scoop: I was out with hubby when I spotted an able-bodied young man, struggling valiantly against an enormous load of cartons on one of those wheeled things I'd call a dolly if it didn't sound quite so...girlish! ;-). Well, what's a girl to do when she sees a fellow human in distress?
"Help him!" I commanded my husband.
I mean, he was really struggling.
Tell me something: If you were a woman, struggling to move some heavy boxes, and a passerby moved in to give you a hand, what would you do? Smile with relief and say something polite like, perhaps, "Thank you!"?
OR WOULD YOU GIVE THE GOOD SAMARITAN A DIRTY LOOK THAT SAID, "SCRAM!" AND GRUMBLE, "I'M FINE!"?
"What did you think, Riva?" My husband gently snorted. "You insulted him!"
What is it about an offer of assistance that ruffles those male feathers so easily? Is it better that he grunt and groan and move the ten-ton box himself? Does that affirm that latent masculinity so prized and...fragile that it crumbles in the face of a little help? Interesting, cuz G-d, who actually created men, commands us, in the book of Shemos (Exodus): "When you see the donkey of your enemy collapsed under its load ... you must raise it with him." Notice that last word: "HIM". As in, uh, a guy. Full of that wonderful, capable male pride that gets our men in and out of all sorts of messes--single-handedly, thank you very much.
So the next time I see a guy who looks like he could use a hand, I will not make the same dumb mistake I made last time. Instead of expressing my annoying female nurturing instinct, I will walk on stoutly by and let those male muscles handle everything with aplomb. Hey, come to think of it, I may even throw on an extra carton or two. Just to up the ante. Wouldn't that feel good!
My neighbor had an urgent request of me early one morning. "Please," she asked breathlessly, "Can I wash my windows?"
No, she is not co-dependent. :-) She is my upstairs' neighbor and when she washes windows she WASHES WINDOWS! We're talkin' buckets and buckets of water thrown at the window until it's sparkling--water that will ultimately land on my patio, which is located right under her windows.
Why is she washing her windows so thoroughly? you might ask. Well, even if you may not ask, I sure did. It isn't even Pesach yet!
"Riva," she gave me a scornful look. "Didn't I tell you my mother-in-law's coming for Purim? I couldn't possibly let her see my windows the way they were--they were horrible!"
When my mother-in-law comes to visit, I make sure the floors are passable, the guest room's clean, and there's a good meal ready for dinner. But windows? Never occurred to me! The mother-in-law factor was cited later that day yet again, by a friend who shared that her sister was coming over to consult with her on...what to make for her mother-in-law for Purim!
Am I out of touch with MIL etiquette? (And she doesn't seem to mind it one bit!) Do YOU wash your windows when your mother-in-law comes to visit?
Yesterday, I did something so shocking, so daring, so absolutely out-of-the-ordinary that I had to pinch myself to be sure I wasn't dreaming. I...took the morning off. That's right--off. No work, no deadlines, no pressure, no writing. For that matter, no dishes, no laundry, no sweeping or returning phonecalls. Nope, instead, I went with a friend to...a women's dance festival! Ha! Even today, twenty-four hours later, I'm still atonished at my courage. Leaving those DEADLINES? Those scary, glowering deadlines? When have I ever left them before, completely unattended? When's the last time I audaciously went out to enjoy myself for a change, to spend some time with a friend and just...enjoy?
Uh, can you spell 'never'?
Yep, those deadlines waited very patiently for me to come back. So did the dishes. I greeted them with a naughty grin, completely devoid of guilt. And now I'll have to cram my work into less time-space than if I had knocked some of it back yesterday morning. But was it a worthy investment? Absolutely.
I am slowly learning a beautiful lesson in life: my work is important, yes, but friendship, inspiration, and just plain letting loose is vital. I guess the best way I'd sum it up is with this pithy quote: In earning a living, we often forget to live.
When's the last time you took off for down-time?
About Riva Pomerantz
I'm a freelance writer, widely published in several magazines including the internationally-distributed Ami Magazine and Mishpacha Jewish Family Weekly. Riva's work also appears on the award-winning website www.aish.com, amongst others. You can buy my books here.