For the past few months, I’ve been working with my second daughter on asking for what she needs, rather than stating the problem aloud with the hopes that someone will hear and fix the issue for her.
I’m lucky to raise my daughters during a time when women are encouraged to use their voice. If I don’t teach them early to speak up for what they need, how can I expect them to innately learn this later?
“I wish I got paid more.” becomes “Boss, here are the reasons I deserve a raise.”
“I wish my spouse paid more attention to me.” becomes “We need to talk.”
“I don’t know how to ______ (change a tire, write a resume, etc.) becomes “Will you teach me?”
“I wish I had more time for ____.” becomes “If it’s important enough, I will find a way.”
It amazes me how much we take for granted on a daily basis. It isn’t until we injure our toe that we recognize how much we failed to appreciate it fully-functioning. The same could be said for a heater in winter or a dependable car. But perhaps the thing we take for granted most is our voice.
Recently, my girls and I visited a children’s play place. I typically only frequent these madhouses during “off” times- anyone interested in a 3 PM dinner? See you at Chick-Fil-A. My strategy is part small-talk avoidance combined with reduced noise level and chaos for my 2, 4 and 6 year-old girls to navigate. Nonetheless, there’s no way to totally avoid socialization unless we stay home and since I’m not trying to raise my daughters in a bubble, I embrace these encounters for what they are: learning opportunities.
So when an 18 month-old recently took particular interest in my social-anxiety-ridden 4-year-old, I prepared my lesson. To any outsider, it was adorable. A little blue-eyed, towheaded boy recognized himself in our Harper’s similar features and grabbed a hold of her hand. To her credit, Harper attempted to roll with it until he refused to let go and followed her no matter how far she ran. With pleading eyes, she looked to me for help.
A few weeks later, in a different establishment, I was alarmed to hear my two-year old crying for the third time in twenty minutes. Since the play place was three stories tall with covered tube slides too small for my 9 month-pregnant butt to crawl into, I couldn’t figure out what had happened during the first two instances, but at the third outburst, the sibling of a child explained her sister had pinched my little Emma, for no apparent reason. Later, in the car, after discussing it with my older two girls, it was revealed that this same child had hit my four and six year old on the head at the bottom of the slide.
I asked what they did in response and they said they ignored her and kept on playing.
Although I’m proud my girls aren’t tattle-tales who cry over the smallest infraction, I immediately thought of the #metoo movement and recognized how imperative it was for me to ensure my girls knew that it is OK and IMPORTANT for them to use their voice.
I could see it in Harper’s face- she didn’t want to hurt the little boy’s feelings by asking him to stop holding her hand. And I knew my eldest didn’t want to disrupt the balance of play by complaining about the head-hitting but isn’t this what the #metoo movement is all about? Women afraid to speak up because of the potential repercussions?
I recognized right then and there that being encouraged to use their voice was something that had to be explicitlytaught at a very young age. I was struck at the realization that I had assumed my girls would know what to do in those situations and cringed at the thought of ever telling them to “ignore” or “get over it” and keep playing.
I looked at my girls square in the face and explained, “Your body is YOUR body. It belongs to you. If someone ever hits you or touches you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, you must use your VOICE to tell that person to stop.”
I continued with an example.
“When that little girl hit you, you had every right to say, ‘That hurt me. Do not do that again. If you do, I will not play with you.'”
Simple. And yet why does it feel so hard to stand up for ourselves? I explained that if the girl or hand-holding little boy continued, then my girls should find an adult to help, just as a woman in a workplace should seek the assistance of her boss.
These things we take for granted must not be overlooked any longer. I feel so fortunate that my daughters are growing up in the midst of the #metoo movement, when women are empowered to come forward after years of silence. The fact of the matter is, though, many of these women did go to their bosses and were punished as a result, taught to remain silent.
No more. No longer. We will teach our children to use their voice so that silent acquiescence becomes the thing of generations past.
“Another thing,” I told them. “We are a family and we stick together. If you ever see your sister in trouble, you stand by her and help. You are not alone.” With this, my 6 year-old’s precious lips turned upward into a knowing smile. Empowered.
Nearly a decade ago, my husband and I hiked ten miles down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon to visit Havasu Falls. This is an incredibly vast and remote stretch of desert; a place people have died after taking the wrong turn. Needless to say, we made sure to keep our eyes open for the trail markers to lead us down the right path.
I have had something weighing heavy on my heart but it didn’t all come together for me until I crawled into bed tonight and had to crawl back out to write this article. This post is likely going to cause some friends to unfriend or unfollow me but in the end, it’s not my intention to criticize, rather to scream from the rooftops.
WE ARE GOOD ENOUGH.
I was in direct sales for four years. It allowed me to build my own schedule and work from home while raising my daughters. It gave me financial freedom. I quit once it became too much to be both a full-time mom and part-time consultant. I’ve had to give up many creature comforts as a result, but I am fortunate enough to have a husband that earns enough and a family that supports us enough that we can survive on one-income. That is not the case for many others, which is why direct-sales truly offers the best of both worlds.
Having said that, my newsfeed is FILLED with my friends in direct-sales. I am so happy that it has given them an unexpected career path, providing support, goals, and money along the way. I know how truly joyful it feels to succeed in that business.
But when I am constantly confronted with photos of how I can trim fat off of my body or improve the wrinkles on my face, I am left wondering “Am I good enough?”
I recognize we all likely have room for improvement. I have a growth-focused mindset, love learning and am always open to learning a new perspective. I respect the desire to feel good about yourself and I am happy for those that found success after they received that push they needed in the right direction.
The fact of the matter is, I feel pressure to continually look younger and fitter. I enjoy fitness for the natural high it gives me, the personal satisfaction of having done it and the health benefits. Sure I like looking cute in a dress, but with three daughters at home, I certainly don’t obsess about it. I had major body issues as a teenager and fought hard to recognize that my personal worth was much more than the size of my waist. And I don’t want my girls to see their mommy worrying about such things. I DO want them to see me exercise, but I don’t want it to become something they constantly worry about whether they are “keeping up” as they age. I want it to be a healthy part of life- not about achieving a certain “look”.
The same goes for my face. Y’all. I’m aging. Some of us do it more gracefully than others. And yes, it can be hard to look in the mirror and see some extra lines that didn’t used to be there. And yes, I realize there are SUPER effective regimens out there that will decrease the appearance of these lines but dammit- I DON’T WANT TO. I don’t want to wash my face twice a day (I never have as gross as that may be for some to read) but what’s more, I don’t want to focus on turning back the hand of time.
Each year that I age means another year I’ve been fortunate to live on this Earth. I’m not trying to sound poetic, I’m just being real.
Lately, I’ve started an open dialogue with my oldest. I realized, too late, how much I am the cause of her obsession with princesses because I gave her the tools- the movies, the dolls, the performances. Now, I am doing damage control, talking to her about true beauty- that it comes from the inside. That you can’t put a pretty dress on the witch in Snow White and make her beautiful. That kindness is what makes somebody beautiful. But it’s a hard sell when all she has ever known as role models have been ageless beauties.
I want her to see a mom who ages gracefully. I don’t mind using some wrinkle creams here and there or some makeup when I want to look especially nice. But my husband fell in love with a girl on the beach, with no makeup. When I asked him to buy me a perfume for Christmas he told me it would be a bottle of sunscreen because that’s what he loves. He loves the memory of us on that beach. He loves me unfiltered. And I do, too.
My friends who are ruling their businesses. . . I am so happy for you to find that purpose and success. I know for some customers, it has been absolutely life-changing and I celebrate that with you.
It’s just hard when I have SO MANY friends who are involved. Rather than seeing one post a day or every few days, I am literally bombarded with over 20 posts a day of before and after photos- of pounds lost, of lashes lengthened and faces “improved”.
So for those of you who feel the same as I do, I want to hold your hand and remind you that you are good enough, just the way you are. If you feel inspired and want to improve the clarity of your face and the tone of your body, I have many wonderful friends that can get you on the right track. And if you are comfortable with where you are, I say cheers to you. So am I.