8/12/09

Another Goddess of the Week: Pachamama

Marta Colvin Pachamama (aymara Mother Earth), ...Image via Wikipedia

Feeling sandwiched? Feeling squeezed like a cheap piece of meat between two slices of whole wheat because you're caring for both children and parents? Then welcome to the sandwich generation. Forty percent of women aged 35-54 admit to feeling totally stressed out by their exclusive membership in this club. Why? Because caregiving is hard and often thankless. Conservative estimates claim that twenty percent of caregivers of any type are depressed. When you are asked to give care to both your parents and your children, it's almost impossible not to end up a big fat emotional mess.

It's not the caregiving itself that is often the problem. If you've given care, you know that the act can be very rewarding. The problem is that when we give care -- especially sandwich generation care -- we often end up denying care to ourselves. We don't get enough sleep. We don't eat right. We stop exercising, meeting with friends, and doing the things we love because we simply can't find the time. But take if from someone who knows, when caregiving consumes you, you will explode, and it won't be pretty.

The goddess for caregivers is Pachamama. Pachamama is an Incan goddess who is still revered in parts of Chile and Northern Argentina. She is, literally, the earth we walk on, and she is the ultimate caregiver. She gives you her fertile dirt, her life-giving water, her shade, her sunshine, her cool, quiet nights. She is a good mama. She is a too good mama. Because people take advantage. They expect her to give, give, give and yet they offer nothing in return, just like spoiled children, just like most children. And you know what happens? Pachamama keeps it all inside. She's tries not to get all resentful and bitter. And then she explodes in an earthquake.

But Pachamama has learned that she needs to take care of herself first. She cannot care for anybody until she acknowledges that her needs are as legitimate and important as anyone else's. So she lunches with her gal pals. She walks the dog. And she doesn't do every goddamn little stupid thing herself. She gets help. In the places where she is still worshipped, every day people toast Pachamama and honor her by spilling a little chicha (a sort of hard cider made of corn) on the ground. She has a festival day the day before Ash Wednesday, and the whole month of August is seen by many as a time to pay her special tribute. The point is, she gives, but others give back because a happy Pachamama, a Pachamama who cares for herself and allows (demands) others to care for her in return, is a non-exploding Pachamama.

Channel this goddess: when your children are vomiting in your ear and your parents don't remember who they are. Or when you pay the bills by nurturing the health and well-being of others. Or when you've made a nice healthy dinner and no one even says thank you. Or when you keep finding socks on the floor -- really, is it that hard to put them in the hamper? Or when you are so busy doing other people's shit that you don't even have time to feel yourself breathe.

Silknparachute: This one's for you.

Need a goddess: I'm on double duty trying to get you what you need. Just tell my your beef or your blessing and I'll see who is available.
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17 comments:

... daisy... said...

can I call her just to know how she manages to stop thinking about the others for a while and concentrates on herself instead... I'd need some lessons... :-)
Though caring for others just makes us feel better, doesn't it. The smile of someone we love is just like a sunshine after the rain... it warms and cheers one up... take care!

Petrea said...

Goodness, Margaret! Double duty! Don't run out of goddesses, please, this is too much fun.

Margaret said...

Daisy: It is difficult to take time for yourself. You must be ruthless, but you must do it. When in doubt, know that it is for the greater good.

Petrea: Ah, thanks.

Susan C said...

I came back from my lovely spa day yesterday and lost it. The phones were all missing from their cradles. The remote control had disappeared. There were three doggie turds on my bedroom carpet. UGH!

Deborah Thomas said...

This one was really for me -- my father just passed away at 88. I have been the only person responsible for his well-being for the past 5 years, including the past 4 after his stroke. This has not stopped my daughter from turning 16 or living her adolescence at full bore, and I am nearly the only one taking care of her as well. The key is to know when NOT to take care! When NOT to pick up the socks (or is having a neat home taking care of oneself??). I will enjoy thinking of Pachamama! Thank you.

altadenahiker said...

Oh my god, kids vomiting in your ear. I'm sorry I laughed. It won't happen again. Call Des, she has some great rum-type solutions for this.

Petrea said...

I'm just afraid that the double duty thing is going to cause you to need a dose of Pachamama. Surely we can wait for our goddesses while you care for you own needs? (Please don't explode.)

gaelikaa said...

What wonderful post! And so true. I'm having that sandwich problem right now, between generations! You have to take care of yourself first, otherwise, what is there to share with others!

Jean Spitzer said...

Great find. Pachamama is a fine goddess for a tough problem (--and the first in a while whose name I could remember well enough to type.

Shell Sherree said...

Like Jean, I'm grateful for a name I can pronounce and remember. Sounds like a good name for one of those Nintendo Wii thingos - preferably one that is able to take care of itself first so it can take care of others. As Petrea says, please take it easy on the Goddess double duty, Margaret.

pasadenaadjacent said...

It's always a pleasure to discover that this transplanted god of ours hasn't taken complete control over the native goddesses population. I'm happy when the goddess gals keep their character while changing their appearance. Very clever of them.

I've had the job of adult caregiver fall on me. I've experienced unexpected moments of solidarity and connection. Other times I've wanted to ring my mother's neck.

Desiree said...

Hence the phrase: If Pachamama's not happy, ain't nobody happy--
Pitch perfect post--

AH--Yeah, I'm thinkin' a coupla Cuba libres--

Margaret said...

I like being on double duty goddess time, so it's no problem. Don't worry about me.

Unseen Rajasthan said...

Fantastic post..I really loved the photo which is unusual to me..Loved this post..Unseen Rajasthan

Margaret said...

I've been short on time, but I just want to thank everyone for their comments on this piece. I guess I do need to channel a little Pachamama.

Amanda Phillips said...

Well said,I am not sure how it happened but somehow..we didn't see us losing ourselves..and who appointed us the worker bees..It's hard to be the fairy princess with rubber gloves and a sloppy sandmich {on the go}. Just not gracful at all!

Alison said...

wow, this was a great post! I think we all need to share it with the very busy females in our lives that aren't going to have time to read it here. I'll send a link to all my friends.