There are plenty of feel-good quotes out there that speak to the strength of women… that we were created as strong beings so we could endure child birth…that we have emotional strength for our children and spouses…that we can be athletes…and that we can maintain our households and still work full time – we can “bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan”.
I believe there is another reason we were created to be strong, tough, and resilient that is often overlooked. It is because we are called upon to be Pack Mules. We are the family carriers of stuff. Our purses are crammed with any possible item we or our loved ones could possibly need at a moment’s notice. Each day we live as if we’ll be called from the audience of “Let’s Make A Deal” to show that we have some obscure but handy item in our possession. And our purses are just the beginning… going on a trip or a family outing? Give everything to Mom, the Pack Mule.
Watch any woman who is the mother of small children manage a family outing to the zoo, park or beach, and you’ll see someone who has taken her Pack Mule talents to all new levels. She is prepared for anything and she is carrying, pushing or pulling three times her own weight. Even venturing out on smaller outings with family members will mean that the R.W. will hear things like “honey, can you put these keys in your purse?” or “mom, can you carry my jacket?” or “can you fit this souvenir in your bag?” We certainly wouldn’t want anyone else’s arms to get weary, or have their pockets weigh them down, so why not add another 5 pounds to our shoulders?
Sadly, we are often our own worst enemies when it comes to our Pack Mule roles. For example, when I head to my office each day, I look like some sort of professional bag lady. I don’t just carry my work bag and my purse – no, I also have my lunch bag, my walking clothes for lunch time breaks, and my workout bag for post-work exercise. Then throw in any other extras from time to time, and I’m weighed down with bags hanging off my shoulders, in my hands, even pinned under my arms. God Forbid I take more than one trip to my car. That would be a sign of weakness. Mind you, to get to my office I have to open two doors and go up a flight of stairs… so the comedy of my balancing act is second only to the different body parts used to open and prop up the doors. In heels, no less.
At home it is no better. If we are cleaning the house, how many of us pick up random objects because they need to be put away and soon find ourselves with arms full? Just like my attempt to make one trip from my car to the office, we will do whatever it takes to carry as much as possible at once to avoid extra trips. Just carrying a laundry basket isn’t enough – we need to throw in some cleaning products, or pet toys, or books, or…. the possibilities are endless. When emptying the dishwasher, how many of us will attempt to balance more glassware in our arms than a experienced waiter? Or if heading out to do yard work, how many of us carry, push, or pull all the yard tools we’ll need in one trip to the garden? One of my Real Women BFF’s described to me the other day how she was attempting to once again carry far too much upstairs at the end of the night. She had bags slung over both shoulders, arms full, even a floppy hat perched on her head. Her teen son stopped in his tracks, amazed at this vision of his mom. Did he offer to take some things off her hands? Nope. He whipped out his smart phone and snapped a photo of her.
Yes, we can be curious creatures. Interestingly, when I looked up a definition for mules in general, I discovered descriptions indicating that they possess an even temper, patience and endurance. They are highly intelligent, curious by nature and can carry 20 – 30% of their body weight long distances.
Hmmm…. Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it? I think I’ll ponder that point while I carry my armload of stuff upstairs for the night.