About four years ago, a friend asked me a basic question: What were my dreams for the future? I couldn’t answer it.
I couldn’t even start to answer the question.
At the time, I was stuck in a lonely marriage and working full-time. I was a mother of three young kids—a 1-year-old, a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old. My (now ex) husband and I kept a busy life socializing with friends and attending various events. We spent weekends by the neighborhood pool, drinking beers, and watching our girls swim with their friends in the California sunshine.
But my ex and I didn’t have dreams or goals. We just let life happen to us. We had neither a vision for our future, nor anything specific we were working toward. We were adrift, in our shared lives and in our marriage.
Like this, we were set up to merely react to what happened to us, so more often than not, we fell into victim roles.
When the question about my dreams came up, it was a total wake up call. I realized that along the way I had lost track of who I was and what I wanted for my life. I was living my kids’ lives and my husband’s life—not my own.
Worse than that, I realized I was living in accordance with a set of parameters I never knowingly agreed to. It’s a scary moment when we realize we’ve lost ourselves entirely in someone else.
Gradually over the past 20 years, I lost track of my own power, my sense of self, and my truth.
Recently, years after I walked out of my marriage, I was talking to a dear friend/mentor/spirit guide. We discussed how I’ve been feeling an unavoidable tug to learn more about spirituality and how it plays into the new life I’ve created for myself and my girls. She said it seems like I’m starting to step into my own power.
I wasn’t totally sure what she meant by the statement. I was, honestly, a bit insulted. I thought of all the powerful women I knew at work—tough, difficult, and fiercely focused—and I thought of the powerful women I’ve seen in politics. They weren’t the kind of women I identified with or had any ambition to become.
But last night, having a conversation with friends (four moms like me) over wine, one of the women said she’s been feeling guilty about how she’s recently chosen to workout a couple nights a week. Rather than go straight home after work to make her 13 and 11-year-old boys dinner, she’s doing something for herself. It was clear she was struggling with this choice.
Intellectually, she knew it was the right thing to do for herself, and yet she’s been taught to believe that she should stay at home, taking care of her two (more than capable) boys. The interesting thing is that she didn’t expect her husband to pick up the slack in this department, this option never even entered the conversation.
I write this as a call to action for all women, mothers, and daughters to practice self-care. To figure out the things we love to do and to make the choice to do them. It is actually good for our partners and kids when we take the time to explore what we need most in life.
Similarly, we need to drop the “Mommy Wars.” We attack ourselves enough without jumping on one another with judgement, jealously, or criticism. Females have true power—we have the ability, whether we chose to or not, to create life. It’s an everyday miracle we take for granted.
Just because we lovingly, thoughtfully, allow a baby to grow inside us and challenge our resources for over nine months, does not mean that our thoughts, feelings, and choices are less important than anyone else’s. We make the choice to stay up every night tending to every need of these tiny beings, knowing they wouldn’t survive without us. It is entirely natural to lose ourselves in those roles, but we can change that.
I believe that as women, most of us fear our personal power. We are taught that power is a masculine word and “nice girls” shouldn’t want to be that way.
Nice girls should listen to their parents.
Nice girls should take care of themselves.
Nice girls should find a man to marry.
Nice girls should find a job that allows them to be home for their families.
Nice girls make sure everyone else feels good.
Walking in my power means feeling all my emotions and not being afraid of them. As humans, we feel emotions for a very real purpose—they guide us to be our truest selves. We shouldn’t feel emotional chaos, but at the other end of that spectrum, being an ice princess isn’t healthy either.
We have to be mindful of how we live our lives and the impact it has on those around us. We also shouldn’t fear our emotions. They are the source of our power. That small tug of our passion should guide us, the twin feelings of excitement and trepidation indicates a pull in the right direction.
We women are done being silenced. Tell dad he’s on kid duty tonight and get out there to explore. Ask the questions you’ve been dying to ask, or take a new class. Find your voice, your passion, and finally reclaim your power.
Author: Christie Vella
Image: Wikipedia Commons
Editor: Danielle Beutell