My kids have been on summer break since May 26th, which just boggles my mind seeing as it was still SPRING! The teachers happily wished a “Have a great summer,” while I mumbled under my breath, “you mean enjoy the rest of my spring, too.” Of course, I did this with a smile because I don’t blame anyone trying to escape a classroom full of little kids.
The problem is, for me to get my daily writing in because I’m now in an MFA program, and because, well, I’m a writer, I’ve taken to getting up extra early to get some pages, reading, and research done.
This morning, by 6 AM, I sat at my desk in my office, and by 6:15, I heard the creak of my three-year-old daughter’s bedroom door. I listened in as she made her way down the hallway. I knew by then that getting any work done was out.
She came in and sat down. Extremely quiet, which isn’t her M.O. I watched her for about 10 seconds before I asked, “What are you doing?” I mean, because really, this was weird.
At a young age, we’re taught to dream, and sure, even some us are told to dream big but to also sit up straight, legs closed, cover ourselves, and to speak when spoken to. We’re taught to go to school and get good grades, and then go to college and still get great grades. To then date and marry a fantastic man, start a family and perfect being a wife, mother, homemaker, all the while, continue to stay career-driven. Whoo, even I’m frustrated and overwhelmed with all we, women have to accomplish, and to think that we’re told all this, and even accept this to be true before we hit any teenaged milestone. Except, we’re also labeled and boxed into types, all with negative connotations, such as:
Some of us are labeled bossy as if it were a dirty stigma and not the makings of a future CEO, or entrepreneur.
While the other half of us were/are labeled shy and thought to be mousy, or an introvert (which is not a bad thing), instead of a deep thinker, one who probably has the best judge of character and if they aren’t talking to you probably found you lacking.
Here’s the thing. Since I’ve spent my whole life as a girl and subsequently, a woman, I’ve dubbed myself a woman-cognoscenti; an expert of sorts. A woman who thinks we can have it all, with realistic expectations, of course, labels be damned.
First, we need to acknowledge that perfection is an illusion and if we’re raising daughters, and sons for that matter, it should be one of the first lessons we teach them. Second, we should acknowledge that dreams are closely related to our motivation, and if you aren’t willing to put in the hard work, well, then dream smaller. And here is my most precious piece of advice because I’m tired of the double standard. Marry only because you found a partner, an equal whom you love, and can imagine sharing a house, and seeing a tinier, younger version of them. But, don’t ever marry because as a little girl that is what you were told to aspire to.
I’ve seen it happen countless times where a woman who is in her thirties is asked first if she has kids, or if she is married and if her answer is “no,” people’s eyes glaze over with pity. Ask a man who is the same age and gives the same answer and the reaction is wholly different. Why is a women’s worth built on her legally binding herself to a contract with a man and her breeding status? And what does that mean for all of us that want to have it all? For me, it says you haven’t gotten there yet, and you will, but only if you want it. It does not define you.
So, for my last tidbit ladies, do you! Dream big. Marry if you want to marry. Have children when or if you want, and when you come across the person who would label you, or judge you, good intention or not, brush it off.
Because, you see, if anyone can juggle a husband (or wife), children, a career, a house it is you! There is not a stronger bunch of humans than us. We can hold down classrooms, slay boardrooms, and push 10lb. babies out our…. well, you know. If you take anything from what we were once told as little girls, take this…DREAM BIG!