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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Empowering Girls: It's Just Not About Them

DSCN3087.JPG

By Tracee Sioux

As I pull crayoned notes out of your Kindergarten backpack and read, Ainsley loves Brayden, my heart longs to make you understand that it’s just not about them.

At the dawn of my 34th year, having given birth to my second and last child and knowing my childbearing years were over, I felt a wave of liberation wash over me sitting in yoga class.

It was, I think, the decision to have no more children that set me free. Or perhaps it was the vasectomy, which finally liberated me from the love chase I’ve been on my whole life.

This liberation feels like finally taking possession of my own brain. I look back at my own history and think of all the disrespectful positions with men that I’ve been in and wonder how I ever let myself be so compromised. I look back and wonder what on earth could have been wrong with me to have chased those particular men. Why would I put up with abusive, disrespectful or negative behavior? What the hell was I thinking?

It’s all so droll and disgusting. I can gloss it over and make it feel more respectable than it was, but it feels like my entire existence was controlled by my biological clock and my need to create these two perfect and wonderful children for 33 years.

Now that I have, now that I’ve accomplished my mission, I feel a sense of liberation that will allow me to demand more respect for myself than I ever felt worthy of before.

It feels like coming into my self.

Like a birthing of me.

My children are like the culmination of a struggle that I am allowed to leave behind now.

I am mother. Already. Done. Finished. Mission Accomplished.

It’s like I’m giving myself permission to move on. And in the moving on I notice that how I think and feel about my self in relation to men is vastly different.

My biological clock is off and now my real life can begin. My life, my existence, my soul, my wellbeing, my identity, my womanhood, my femininity isn’t about men. I no longer feel relational to them, not even your father. I don’t feel my life is about what I can offer them, give them or get from them.

Romantic love and sex no longer hold the same attraction or urgency for me anymore. It’s hard for me to even fathom why it was ever so important to me. It’s not my main purpose as it was for all those dating years that I look back on my wanting with a sense of regret.

What if I could have avoided all that desperation, longing and wanting? Maybe that wasn’t necessary to create these wonderful children. What if that was just a complete waste of my emotional energy?

What if I inherited my desperation from my mother and she from hers? What if that longing, that allowing men to define my worth by whether they wanted me, desired me, loved me or claimed me was passed from one generation to the next.

DSCN3206.JPG

"Why does Brayden like Cat instead of me?"

"Brayden said I was cute today."

As I listen to these precocious words fall from your six-year-old mouth I wonder, have I done this to you? Have I passed on my desperation and longing?

How I wish I would have learned that it’s just not about them before I brought you into this world.

As I imagine your future of crushes, dating and heart breaks I want to pass my post-mother, post-birth, mid-life, newly discovered knowledge on to you in an effort to save you some drama and pain:
The process of being You, Ainsley, is just not about them.

11 comments:

Julie Pippert said...

How intriguing. It took a lot more than that to free me from my---hmm, searching for term, hmmm---reproductive cloud. I'm not sure that's complete for me, although I know I am finished having children. I'm intrigued by the relationship of the clock shutting off and with it the defining of self-worth by men. I wonder if that just happens around this time in life and how tied it is to motherhood---does it happen independently if one isn't a mother?

I think one of the ways we define ourselves will always, in youth, be to some degree based on how others relate to and value us.

I don't think there is any way around it, and the best you can do is empower your children to go through it, a la Frost's advice. I'll measure based on how intact they emerge more than whether they avoid it.

It shapes us, sometimes painfully, but when you emerge and regrow your whole and self, at least I see that it shaped me, and that's a form of healing and validation.

What a great post!

And hey I hear I must have walked past you 800 times in Austin without ever connecting. Disappointment. You're ever this way or coming to one of the many great events in the Bay Area let me know!

Tracee said...

Julie, I went the "bloggers caucus" specifically looking to meet you, I had read you would be there. I wished there had been name tags. I introduced myself to lots of people and never actually meet another blogger.

A friend of mine said she feels similar, and she never had children, but she did turn 40 and she's feeling her clock shut off.

Maybe it has a lot to do with me being 34, as much as it does with being done with childbearing.

Jeanne said...

I agree with Julie, "great post"! This post is typical of your style: deep thoughts, powers of reflection, ability to process information... and the ability to ponder how to pass on a healthy legacy to your children... Just stellar as always! Thanks. :)

Manager Mom said...

That's very interesting...what comes from us, what comes from the world, what comes from inside them? I think there's so much that these girls are blasted with from all sides, the best we can hope to do is give them the tools to love themselves and deflect the noise.

Tracee said...

Tools - exactly - Manager Mom. I hope you'll stick around and help me work out the best tools.

Carol Saha said...

When Adam and Eve sinned and were cast out of the Garden of Eden a prophecy was written down. In part it said to Eve, at Gen 3:16, "Your craving will be for your husband and he will dominate you."
That doesn't mean it's supposed to be that way. It was written as prophecy as an inevitable result of what went before. I think we should fight this tendency and teach our daughters how to fight it.
Carol

Tracee said...

I like the way you see things Carol.

candeelady- My Tween Parenting Blog said...

Love this post and your writing style.
As nurse I think it's all hormone driven. We crave intimacy in our youth and we learn to get it by having sex. Boys crave sex and fake intimacy to get it. At some point (and it takes years sometimes) we get that it should be 50:50. Eventually when the hormones settle down and we mature,( Marry or not, kids or not), we then are able to focus on ourselves, goals, dreams etc.

candeelady said...

Unfortunately ALL girls must go through this. No advice from Mom can prevent their crushes and heartache BUT if we build up their sense of self worth and independance the bruises will be minimal and they will move through life with good enjoyable experiences and not traumas that damage them.

Tracee said...

I think it's part hormones and part conditioning.

blue milk said...

Fascinating post. Well done.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Empowering Girls: It's Just Not About Them

DSCN3087.JPG

By Tracee Sioux

As I pull crayoned notes out of your Kindergarten backpack and read, Ainsley loves Brayden, my heart longs to make you understand that it’s just not about them.

At the dawn of my 34th year, having given birth to my second and last child and knowing my childbearing years were over, I felt a wave of liberation wash over me sitting in yoga class.

It was, I think, the decision to have no more children that set me free. Or perhaps it was the vasectomy, which finally liberated me from the love chase I’ve been on my whole life.

This liberation feels like finally taking possession of my own brain. I look back at my own history and think of all the disrespectful positions with men that I’ve been in and wonder how I ever let myself be so compromised. I look back and wonder what on earth could have been wrong with me to have chased those particular men. Why would I put up with abusive, disrespectful or negative behavior? What the hell was I thinking?

It’s all so droll and disgusting. I can gloss it over and make it feel more respectable than it was, but it feels like my entire existence was controlled by my biological clock and my need to create these two perfect and wonderful children for 33 years.

Now that I have, now that I’ve accomplished my mission, I feel a sense of liberation that will allow me to demand more respect for myself than I ever felt worthy of before.

It feels like coming into my self.

Like a birthing of me.

My children are like the culmination of a struggle that I am allowed to leave behind now.

I am mother. Already. Done. Finished. Mission Accomplished.

It’s like I’m giving myself permission to move on. And in the moving on I notice that how I think and feel about my self in relation to men is vastly different.

My biological clock is off and now my real life can begin. My life, my existence, my soul, my wellbeing, my identity, my womanhood, my femininity isn’t about men. I no longer feel relational to them, not even your father. I don’t feel my life is about what I can offer them, give them or get from them.

Romantic love and sex no longer hold the same attraction or urgency for me anymore. It’s hard for me to even fathom why it was ever so important to me. It’s not my main purpose as it was for all those dating years that I look back on my wanting with a sense of regret.

What if I could have avoided all that desperation, longing and wanting? Maybe that wasn’t necessary to create these wonderful children. What if that was just a complete waste of my emotional energy?

What if I inherited my desperation from my mother and she from hers? What if that longing, that allowing men to define my worth by whether they wanted me, desired me, loved me or claimed me was passed from one generation to the next.

DSCN3206.JPG

"Why does Brayden like Cat instead of me?"

"Brayden said I was cute today."

As I listen to these precocious words fall from your six-year-old mouth I wonder, have I done this to you? Have I passed on my desperation and longing?

How I wish I would have learned that it’s just not about them before I brought you into this world.

As I imagine your future of crushes, dating and heart breaks I want to pass my post-mother, post-birth, mid-life, newly discovered knowledge on to you in an effort to save you some drama and pain:
The process of being You, Ainsley, is just not about them.

11 comments:

Julie Pippert said...

How intriguing. It took a lot more than that to free me from my---hmm, searching for term, hmmm---reproductive cloud. I'm not sure that's complete for me, although I know I am finished having children. I'm intrigued by the relationship of the clock shutting off and with it the defining of self-worth by men. I wonder if that just happens around this time in life and how tied it is to motherhood---does it happen independently if one isn't a mother?

I think one of the ways we define ourselves will always, in youth, be to some degree based on how others relate to and value us.

I don't think there is any way around it, and the best you can do is empower your children to go through it, a la Frost's advice. I'll measure based on how intact they emerge more than whether they avoid it.

It shapes us, sometimes painfully, but when you emerge and regrow your whole and self, at least I see that it shaped me, and that's a form of healing and validation.

What a great post!

And hey I hear I must have walked past you 800 times in Austin without ever connecting. Disappointment. You're ever this way or coming to one of the many great events in the Bay Area let me know!

Tracee said...

Julie, I went the "bloggers caucus" specifically looking to meet you, I had read you would be there. I wished there had been name tags. I introduced myself to lots of people and never actually meet another blogger.

A friend of mine said she feels similar, and she never had children, but she did turn 40 and she's feeling her clock shut off.

Maybe it has a lot to do with me being 34, as much as it does with being done with childbearing.

Jeanne said...

I agree with Julie, "great post"! This post is typical of your style: deep thoughts, powers of reflection, ability to process information... and the ability to ponder how to pass on a healthy legacy to your children... Just stellar as always! Thanks. :)

Manager Mom said...

That's very interesting...what comes from us, what comes from the world, what comes from inside them? I think there's so much that these girls are blasted with from all sides, the best we can hope to do is give them the tools to love themselves and deflect the noise.

Tracee said...

Tools - exactly - Manager Mom. I hope you'll stick around and help me work out the best tools.

Carol Saha said...

When Adam and Eve sinned and were cast out of the Garden of Eden a prophecy was written down. In part it said to Eve, at Gen 3:16, "Your craving will be for your husband and he will dominate you."
That doesn't mean it's supposed to be that way. It was written as prophecy as an inevitable result of what went before. I think we should fight this tendency and teach our daughters how to fight it.
Carol

Tracee said...

I like the way you see things Carol.

candeelady- My Tween Parenting Blog said...

Love this post and your writing style.
As nurse I think it's all hormone driven. We crave intimacy in our youth and we learn to get it by having sex. Boys crave sex and fake intimacy to get it. At some point (and it takes years sometimes) we get that it should be 50:50. Eventually when the hormones settle down and we mature,( Marry or not, kids or not), we then are able to focus on ourselves, goals, dreams etc.

candeelady said...

Unfortunately ALL girls must go through this. No advice from Mom can prevent their crushes and heartache BUT if we build up their sense of self worth and independance the bruises will be minimal and they will move through life with good enjoyable experiences and not traumas that damage them.

Tracee said...

I think it's part hormones and part conditioning.

blue milk said...

Fascinating post. Well done.