I Am Woman.

I’m not sure how to start this. How do you address a month+ gap in writing? Maybe we can just not address it and sweep it under the rug? Heh

Well, part most of my absence can be explained by my starting work in the past month and a half. My husband and I had been talking about it for a couple of months or so before I started and I have to tell you, I was so nervous to start. I didn’t want to have to work and I was sad for the times that I wouldn’t be able to see my beautiful family.

I ended up getting a part-time afternoon/evening job at a company that I had worked at previously and that was happy to have me back. The thought of giving up family dinners a couple of times a week broke my heart. The thought of not seeing my husband when he got home from work on those nights made me sad. I wept when he, in a proud and encouraging way, called me an “official working mom” the night before I started.

Fast forward to now, and I love my job. We have a new normal in our routine and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on as much family time as I feared. In fact, I feel more purposeful with my time now that I am gone several hours a week. I knew when I had started work that being a stay-at-home-mom was draining on me most days, and though that is still my title for half the week, it feels like it doesn’t take as much of a toll on me. It feels like I have found a nice balance in my life with this new job.

Since I start working (even as little as I do), I feel more confident, have more boldness, feel like a better mom, am a better worker, and feel slightly more satisfied with myself. I feel empowered.

But here’s the thing. I don’t need to be a working mom to feel empowered. I don’t need to work outside the house to feel like I have a purpose. I don’t need to contribute financially to the house to feel like I’m doing something.

My body has the power to grow life and then sustain it. Shouldn’t that be enough to make me feel empowered?

I love being a mom to my boys. God has blessed me with the most amazing ones and I can’t believe I get to kiss those faces every day! But occasionally, in the midst of all the exhaustion and chaotic monotony, I would feel like what I was doing at home with the boys simply wasn’t enough.

Where did that lie come from?

It’s election day and I can’t help but think that tomorrow I may wake up to news that we will be getting our first woman president. Yet, I wonder why one woman is being praised for running for office simply because she is a woman, when eight years ago there was another woman running for a position almost as prominent and she was ridiculed because she her accent made her seem less educated. (This is not a political statement, just a view on how we, as women, view women.)

Since I had my boys, I have been asked by many well-meaning women if I work. Most of the times, it’s an innocent question just to make small talk, but sometimes it felt like I had to justify myself when saying that I’m staying at home with my boys.

I have never had a man tell me that I wasn’t good enough at something (or if one has, I gave him a look and moved on, forgetting all about it). A man cannot know what a woman is. Yet, over my lifetime, girls and women have done things and said things that stick with me and make me wonder about myself.No rejection stings more than from someone of my own gender.

And why?

There is no rule for what a woman should be, do, or how she should dress or act in her life. (I believe in modesty and acting in certain ways, but that’s not what I’m referring to.) 

I’m talking about the times I was teased in 4th grade for how I wore my hair.

I’m talking about the cheerleaders in middle school who were snubbed by other girls who insisted that cheerleading was not as a sport and soccer was a way better option.

I’m talking about the virgin in high school that other girls made fun of, unaware that it was her choice to remain that way.

I’m talking about the pregnant teen who other girls labeled irresponsible and shamed her for the life she has inside of her.

I’m talking about the women in college who wanted to major in chemical engineering and were told it was too hard by other women.

I’m talking about the woman who didn’t go to college because she chose to get married young and be a housewife.

I’m talking about the woman who is still single because she has no interest in committing at this time in her life.

I’m talking about the woman who wants so badly to have a life companion and is told by women that she is not independent enough.

I’m talking about the mom who formula feeds for no reason other than she doesn’t want to breastfeed and is judged for her decision, despite her healthy kids.

I’m talking about the mom who breastfeeds, baby wears, and uses cloth diapers who is viewed as over-the-top.

I’m talking about the single mom who other moms feel like she just isn’t good enough.

I’m talking about the CEO of a start-up who hears whispers of women saying she works too much and is not a good enough mom.

I’m talking about the vice presidential candidate who was mocked because other women thought she was weird.

I’m talking about the middle-aged woman who is still a stay-at-home-mom even though her youngest is in high school.

Why do we, as women, feel the need to berate or belittle other women because of their life choices? Why do we question their success and their methods? Why do we find fault in what they do? Why do we feel the need to dwell on their mistakes or faults?

I am strong, emotional, a self-doubter learning to be confident, empathetic, nurturing, a good listener, a tad insecure, and smart. I do not need to be extremely successful in my career to feel like I made a difference. I do not need to play with my kids every second of every day to feel like I’m a good enough mom. I do not need a woman as president to tell my future daughter that she can be anything she wants to be.

I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a worker, a child of God.

I am woman.

 

 

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7 thoughts on “I Am Woman.

  1. I loved this post Sam! And I definitely agree with you that generally girl-on-girl hate is *at least* just as prevalent as cross-gender (is that a word?) hate/judgment. It’s all part of the same problem though!

    If you look at how movies, TV shows, sitcoms, magazines, etc. portray women, the general theme is always pitting women against women – current girlfriend vs ex-girlfriend (and one of them is bound to be labeled “crazy”), sisters who hate each other, girls competing for the same boy, “Who were it best?” on all kinds of magazines, cool girls vs nerdy girls, etc.

    It’s rare to see storylines of girls who just support each other, are friends, and have more important things on their minds than which boy they currently have a crush on (although, like you said, there is nothing wrong with prioritizing finding a life partner to have a family with).

    The media is just a part of the patriarchal, sexist society that prevails in many parts of the world today, including the US. (Because, when you look at it, it’s men that run these magazines, write these TV shows, produce these movies – that are all about women.)

    Essentially, what I’m saying is that women have also been socialized to see each other as direct enemies (i.e. because there are so few spots for them in the professional world; or because they themselves have been consistently scrutinized by impossible standards (like the one that caused this issue for you – that you have to contribute financially to the household *and* not miss a family moment when there are only 24h in the day); or even just because that’s all they’ve seen in the media). The reasons are endless.

    The root of the problem is the same though (sexism), and only when women truly enjoy equal rights/opportunities as men (socially, politically, financially, professionally) will girl-on-girl hate cease to be a problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Geez, did you want that to be put into a separate post? 😉 😉

      But really, I agree with all that you said there. I even agree that women may have “been socialized to see each other as direct enemies.”
      That said, I can’t see how removing sexism and imposing truly equal rights would remove this issue of woman hate. The problem starts in childhood, with mere teasing between girls because one may not look like the others. I don’t see truly equal rights would end that.

      That said, if women have been socialized to see each other this way, we’re smart enough to change this. We don’t have to make enemies because society imagines us this way. We can connect because of the one thing we all have in common. We don’t have to agree on everything, but we don’t have to become enemies because of it.

      Also, friendly debate point: I just don’t see how sexism is the problem here. Not today in this country. I look at me and I look at my husband and brothers and friends and I don’t see anything they can do that I can’t.
      You may even show me numbers that I could be wrong. And I’ll admit that I’ll look the other way. There may be a greater problem, but if I dwell on that, it makes me a victim, and I succumb once again to thinking that I can’t be good enough.

      I guess my point is that no man in my life has ever told me I’m not good enough (at least not to the point where I believed him), but women have sometimes left me questioning myself.

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      1. Okay get ready ’cause this one’s even longer!!! (Remember those huge emails I would send you? You can’t be surprised that my comments are this long haha)

        So first of all yay for friendly debates! I loved hearing your point of view and I am also glad that you have not experienced sexism either first-hand or in your immediate circle of friends/family. It’s definitely a sign that things are changing and for the better. (Something I also agree with because, luckily, it is my reality as well.)

        What I mean when I say that I think the problem is still sexism is mostly this:

        There are places in the world where sexism is, let’s say, more obvious. Women can’t vote, can’t choose who they marry (can’t choose IF they get married), can’t run for public office, can’t get a higher education, can’t work, the list goes on. There are places in the world where women can’t *choose* simply due to the fact that they are women and their choices are made by men. That is the clearest form of sexism, which also, at one point, existed in the Western world but is luckily (at least formally) gone.

        In the Western world, laws have been passed that allow women to vote, run for public office, have a job, etc. There are laws that allow women to make their own choices about their own lives. Social perceptions have also changed about what it means to be a woman – the majority of people no longer think that “a woman’s place is in the kitchen” (although some still do; and others end up rejecting women who end up choosing that life path anyway which is just as bad), the majority of people do not think a woman is less capable of doing a certain job/studying a certain major in college just because she is a woman; the majority of people no longer think that only women can be good parents and agree that fathers need to play an active role as well.

        This doesn’t mean that women enjoy equal rights though. Formally, yes, of course. There is no doubt about it. But:

        – There’s still a huge wage gap in most Western countries (even though there are more women who graduate college than men): https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/07/5-things-gender-pay-gap/

        – Women can now work full-time and that’s great, but the work at home is not distributed between the couple and women still do more housework: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/11/do-women-work-longer-hours-than-men/ (so we’ve just added more workload to our schedule, instead of balancing it out within the family unit)

        – Also, women can work full-time but there is an astoundingly small support from the State to help families that have two working parents: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/07/america-working-moms-policies_n_7737958.html

        – And, also, men are shamed for being stay-at-home dads: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/relationships/fatherhood/11122773/Society-still-doesnt-like-the-idea-of-stay-at-home-dads.html (and this one is just WHAT?? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2182970/Why-stay-home-dad-quickest-way-kill-sex-life-lead-wives-stray.html)

        – Women are still subject to impossible standards, set by the media: http://www.wstudies.pitt.edu/blogs/jtf18/women-media-unhealthy-and-unattainable-standards (You can rightly argue that men are also subject to this!)

        – There is still a huge lack of women in top-level positions at companies, which suggests that many women have to/choose to sacrifice their professional careers for their family life: http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/24/investing/female-ceo-pipeline-leadership/

        – Men are belittled in the work place for missing work for family-related events (while women are encouraged to do it) and so take less “sick days” than women: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3262038/Women-sick-leave-men-s-usually-look-kids-official-figures-show.html

        – Stereotypes in the media continue to separate men and women into gender roles that are nothing but social constructs (i.e. the idea that “men don’t cry” or “women need to be protected” or that blue is a boy’s color and pink is a girl’s color, etc.): http://time.com/3657419/sexist-media-moments-2014/

        This is all to say: I think Western societies are still sexist in the sense that gender remains one of the main factors that determines a person’s role and position in society (and how that person is viewed by others). This is more subtle now, thankfully because we have laws to protect both men and women. But, if both women and men were able to enjoy their rights fully (and that includes without the judgment of others because there is still a perception issue here too), then things like girl-on-girl hate would not exist.

        Now I agree that we are smart and we can break the cycle. But it’s all about how you’ve been educated and how you educate your kids too. I’ve seen too many smart women bashing other women for the same silly reasons you mentioned above. Many people consume media without analyzing or criticizing it. Thankfully, that’s not the case for either of us.

        Lastly, I don’t think recognizing this as an issue makes us victims at all. I think it just makes us more aware and empowered to fight it and help others fight it too!

        But I’ll stop my rant here 😉

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      2. I have definitely read articles like all the ones that you had posted. I rolled my eyes at a bunch of them (the men staying at home thing).

        I guess I just see it as much. I don’t see married men refuse to help out in the house when both work. I don’t see women struggling to be a full time worker and a mom and a wife because their husbands say they have to do all of the above.
        Even as a little girl, there were a lot of good male influences in my life that did not play into sexism. But I see things changing so rapidly these days. I see dads taking their kids to soccer, I see them taking their kids to Target, I see them with their kids at the library. I notice all of these things when I’m out with my own kids and I don’t even bat an eye.

        I guess I’m optimistic because even though there is still sexism I see it as so far from the norm. I feel like things are on an upward trend. That’s why I don’t complain about it. And, seeing how good things are, I honestly feel that I would be making myself a victim if I said I was still being oppressed by the opposite sex.

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      3. I agree with most of what you said – sexism not as pervasive in the US and most of the Western world and that’s honestly a great sign. Things are definitely changing quickly and I really believe that our kids will even think discussing something like this is silly because it will be a non-issue by then. (In Portugal, things are a little different and although you could argue that we have more support from the State in terms of family & reproductive rights, socially (in terms of what is the norm for both gender roles) we’ve still got a long way to go and perhaps that’s more where I’m coming from.)
        That said, I’m far from complaining about this and I hope that’s not how it came across. I think it’s one thing to be aware of an issue and another to feel victimized by it. Knowledge is power. If women don’t know that the wage gap is real and that their male counterparts are making more than them, they will never know they are entitled to ask for higher pay. And so on, and so forth.

        This conversation could also go on forever haha but for the sake of not hogging your blog, I’ll leave it here. Again, always love reading your posts and this one was no exception! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Also, congrats on your job!!! 😀 I’m happy you’re excited to be working and getting a few hours a week to focus on something that is just yours. You definitely don’t need to work to be a “good enough” mom/human/woman, but I always think that having personal projects/goals are important for anyone to feel fulfilled. Happy that you’re happy! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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