ONCE upon a time...there was a little girl. Even at a young age she knew that being a little girl was probably the best thing on earth.
When she wasn't playing in the sunshine or combing her pony doll's hair, she was toying with the idea of being a little girl forever. In those sacred childhood places, deep within her dreaming mind, she saw the way people viewed her mom (a stay-at-home mom).
There was no way she'd grow up to be that! It was probably the worst job on earth! Her mom was a doormat- invisible at times, to society and even loved ones. She was always tired and worn, cried often, and made no money of her own. It seemed like a sad place to be.
Luckily, as the little girl grew, she realized she had choices. She didn't have to be her mom. These were the times when women were as capable as men. She saw her dad go to work every day. She had no idea what he did, but it seemed very important. She made her mind up to be that!
And so she did...
She had to work a lot harder in general, but approaching life like a man isn't exactly uncommon for women today. She avoided all the traits and stereotypes associated with women because this helped her excel in her work life, a life that looked nothing like her mother's. .
She didn't have to succumb to the degrading existence her mom had known.
She turned daydreams into dividends. She had her own accounts and opened her own bottle of wine. It felt good to not need anyone the way she saw her mom desperately depend on her dad, like a child herself.
Her fear of being her mom, faded. By her mid-twenties, she was career driven and so independent that when an ex-boyfriend had complained she was too independent, she took it as a compliment.
"The problem with being a modern woman is you have to pretend to be stronger than what you are." ~Darcy Steinke
An aching realization occurred one day deep in the pit of her soul. She was, by definition, a modern woman! She looked around and saw that there was no difference between men and a "modern" women- at work, at the store, everywhere. Women were doing what men were. It seemed like something to celebrate. While this was ideal to her at one point, it now left sadness in her heart.
Where was the beautiful difference between men and women now?
A "Modern woman" wasn't any different than a man, both professionally and personally/sexually. But surely anything modern must be great! Feminists worked hard to pave a path for women: A life resembling a man. But what made women, well, women now? And how does this effect men and children?
One difference is the women who have children. Since a man can't technically carry and give birth to a child, there must be a reason why women can. That meant women were meant to be different than men- exclusive in their own traits.
We shouldn't insist on being able to lead the life of men while the true identity of women is still something to be ashamed of.
When these modern ladies had babies, they picked up where they left off before giving birth: Back to work, back to an independent life. If she didn't go back to work, she suffered in silence as a stay-at-home mom. This was the same scenario of generations before her. Nothing had changed for, quite possibly, the most important job on earth- SAHM's.
These "choices" were the leftovers of men. There was NO new path paved for women- it was an old path. The path many men had already traveled. Presumably, women should have enjoyed the benefits of this modern woman lifestyle. Sadly, not so. Women either get caught in a life they can't possibly balance (because they're trying to "do it all" or "have it all") or they have a life in segments (education, work, travel, career, children).
The story for that little girl doesn't end here...I look back at being the "modern" woman or rather failing to be the modern woman. Has any woman ever succeeded at this insurmountable task anyway? Let me guess, she's still trying or too busy to realize she's failing it.
I tried my life in segments then all at once when I had children. After my first baby, I went back to work. I sat in my office doing what I did best- my job. Periodically, I looked over at a picture of my newborn baby girl, on the corkboard next to my desk. It was too easy ,which made me feel uneasy. I actually believed someone else would do a better job caring for my child.
I had a fussy baby so going back to work and leaving her in the care of someone else was a vacation.
6 months later, I stayed home with my daughter (full- time). When they were doing layoffs at work, I practically volunteered myself. I had no plan. It would mean a 60% paycut (and loss of health insurance) for our household. We managed and it's possible. I look back in history and not one significant event came about without sacrifice or risk. That might just be the recipe for success! We had to sacrifice and I became a stay-at-home mom. Later I created a freelancing job of my own. Day-to-day, it's still not easy. But I'm not living a lie anymore.
I suddenly had to depend on my husband who formerly took more pride in playing war hero computer games than being a husband, employee, or father. However, it was at this time that he stepped up and now has a very stable career of his own. And wait for it...depending on a man (just a little bit) can actually make him a better man. Of course this was a new idea for my independently trained brain.
In the hospital, a nurse told me to remember this: "The woman is the center of the home". The woman can't be the center if no one is surrounding her with support. I had a lack of support.
Many single (and married) women (and mothers) have a lack of support. And the men need help in this area. Yes, it turns out we should depend on others. We need support. A community that supported women would assist in women having choices centered around family, not careers- a choice to stay home with the children and receive respect and acknowledgement from her partner and society. This society would encourage the longevity and fulfillment of marriages, with resources to facilitate that. What we see now is the opposite- it's a modern woman myth that she can do it all and no big deal if her partner fails her.
I had to go through rigorous counseling with my husband. Men are new at these roles of supporting women and women are new to letting someone support her. The most important way we can gain support is finding our support system in life before we embark on our feminine journey. Ideally, society and community would support these notions, but for many this seems like going backwards.
Support, support, support! Friends are great for emotional support. Our parents are aging so they may lend support in various areas- find their strengths and utilize them. If we have a partner in life, I strongly suggest marital counseling during major life changes such as career transitions or having children.
I had to re-evaluate what it meant to be a woman. I became responsible for a little girl of my own. Teaching my daughter what a real woman is required setting an example. Being resilient, nurturing, and also strong. Having a voice (because the home is centered around me) in my household (unlike my mom who took a backseat). Sometimes this means riding the waves of emotions, using intuition, heart, and soul, and encouraging those trait in the people around her. Cultivating relationships and honoring what makes us different than men. And not apologizing for any of it!
Independence is short-lived if you live a long life.
The modern woman is still trying to do it all and she works hard to prove it. We already know women are capable of pushing ourselves past the breaking point and taking little time for self-care. The modern woman seems to be the perfect storm.
The feminist movement decades ago fought hard to give us equal rights, but in turn we have proven that we are valuable only by a man's standards. The modern woman is no different than a man, maybe better, but that has made men deficient.
Women who act like men are doing a disservice to women, men, our children, and society.
As strong and driven as I was (well, am) I absolutely believe I was meant to have children, to nurture, to be creative, to set an example, to teach within my home, and use my emotions to facilitate a more authentic life. Having a "choice" is a myth. Most women, like myself, discover this the hard way. I feel so comfortable in this accidental new skin.
Am I a failure? Its one of those special moments in life when you fail and discover something far better!
Women are not men no matter how hard we have tried. And we shouldn't want to be. We are unique and meant to do what men can't!
I'm passionate about no-nonsense self-improvement. Too many of us are plagued by faulty thought patterns- I aim to change that!