“The dog is barking, and the baby won’t stop crying...”
These words — part of a blog post I wrote six years ago but didn’t publish — have been popping into my head lately. Maybe it’s because we have a dog again.
I vividly remember the desperation I felt in that moment.
I was home alone with my infant son who started crying so hard he turned purple. Then, my very old, mostly deaf dog began barking incessantly. Maybe he heard the baby crying.
It felt impossible.
And, I suffered because I believed that I should be able to manage everything on my own.
I shouldn’t need any help.
I shouldn’t want any time to myself.
I shouldn’t have to pay for child care.
But without time to myself, I didn’t function well.
Early in 2020, I took a class about motherhood. We were told our needs mattered as much as everyone else’s.
This was tough to take in even though the moment I heard it, I knew it was true.
It’s a miracle for a woman to know that serving others is not her sole purpose in life.
We’ve been taught — overtly and covertly — the opposite.
We’ve been taught to feel guilt and shame when we seek out what fills us up because instead we could be taking care of someone else or doing tasks on a never-ending “to do” list.
The book “Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle” calls this dilemma “Human Giver Syndrome.”
Authors Amelia and Emily Nagoski describe women as “Human Givers,” whose purpose is to give everything away to “Human Beings.”
It feels like this book was written for me — and it was. It explains my experience perfectly.
We live in a culture that teaches women to be “Human Givers.”
But the Nagoski sisters remind us that we don’t have to do it all by ourselves. And, we don’t even have to do it all.
The work of daily life — caregiving, cooking, cleaning — isn’t gender-specific work. It’s work that has to be done, and it can and should be done by everyone.
The majority of unpaid work in our country is done by women, even when they also have paid work.
But what if, as the Nagoski sisters suggest, everyone was a “Human Giver,” not just women?
If everyone was a “Human Giver,” then everyone would make it their job to care of others’ needs.
No one’s needs would be more important than anyone else’s.
Unpaid work would be just as important as paid work.
I think it’s time everyone became a “Human Giver.” In a world full of “Human Givers,” we’d all be well taken care of, which sounds pretty fantastic to me. And, in this world, women would no longer feel they need to do it all. They’d be giving as much as they’re receiving from other “Human Givers.”
Joanna Zaremba is a movement, mindfulness, and mindset coach. She gives people the practical tools and support they need to deal with stress, doubt and pain, so they feel good, can access their own answers, and take action toward what matters most. She has lived in the Cheyenne Cañon neighborhood since 2012. She can be reached at email@example.com.