It’s okay to be a housewife. It’s okay to stay at home. It’s okay to let the others climb up while beyond the ladder you roam. You don’t have to be a hero or the first or at the top. It’s okay to just be you and for knowing when to stop. We’re encouraged, we’re pushed, we’re guilted to achieve. It’s okay to say I’ve had enough and take your things and leave.
Not all are meant for stardom, not all are meant for fame. Some are quite content with life when it mainly stays the same. Do not look down upon me from your chair way up above – some of us have picked this place for it’s other things we love.
We won’t hold you back, we’ll cheer on your strides. We’ll applaud your commitment to breaching the divides. We’ve developed a habit of insisting on more, imploring our daughters to even the score. Be careful of these words as they that may make them feel like less, when maybe all they really want is to be accepted in their dress.
Not all are meant for stardom, not all are meant for fame. Some don’t want to break the glass or be invited to the game. Our gifts may not be yours but that doesn’t make them wasted. It just means that we’ve found our wins from something else we’ve tasted.
Of course we’re full of pride when we watch you reach that that rung – the one so far above us, out of reach, where it has hung. But don’t diminish those achievements that didn’t start with ‘first’. There’s nothing wrong with following, it doesn’t make us worse.
Not all are meant for stardom, not all are meant for fame. Don’t forget to tell your daughters, if they’re not, there is no shame.
Didn’t I just write like two months ago that I was jumping up and down for a female win at the White House (https://wordpress.com/post/whichwaysup.blog/1871)? Don’t panic, this isn’t another one of those blogs. But, yes, I did write that – though it was more of a reprimand for all the folks unable to look past the various Kamala-hot-topics and see the super historical moment for what it was – a super historical moment. I know a lot of people didn’t tune in on Wednesday to the inauguration – and that’s totally fine – I was able to tune in and admit to being moved by the exact moment when we were no longer a country who’d never had a female second-in-command. How awesome is that? You don’t have to like her, but you should definitely secretly thank the universe for creating that opening for all the little girls that come behind her. Maybe even someone you’ll know!
I, however, have very little interest in climbing that far up any ladder. I think. Mostly. I’ve learned to never say never. But as I find myself in the midst of a bit of a career crisis – the natural question that comes to my mind is how far do you want to go? And that question’s little sister? What will you do next to get there? I don’t think I want to be an executive, a president, a commander, a director, a principal, a manager, or any kind of chief. Should I not be asking myself where I want to go instead? And if that where doesn’t include a corner office and a two-sided business card, shouldn’t that be okay?
I think of my own daughter. What if she wants no part of that corporate climb either? Shouldn’t that be okay as well? Incidentally, my child just read that sentence and spit out her coffee as she’s flashed back to four years of get your grades up, you can do better, nag, nag, nag from her loving parents as we shepherded her through high school and into college. And, while I do stand by that shepherding, we eventually came to the part where we all looked at each other and went You know what? This is where she’s happiest. This is her sweet spot. She is not going to represent the cream of the crop – but she is going to represent herself and there are zero things wrong with her motivation level not exactly matching our motivation for her. That all being said – there is currently a voice in the back of my head whispering yes…but you’re almost 50…it’s okay if you tag out…she’s young and energetic and full of potential! Be quiet, voice in my head.
We walk a fine line with our daughters (and probably our sons – but I’m a daughter and, therefore a female, so my relatability leans toward the daughters). We want them to be the most popular, the smartest, own the biggest resume, have the best wardrobe, and be the most eloquent in the room. We want them to be persistent and aggressive but not bitchy. We want them to show the grace of a lady and the empathy of a nurse. We keep a rotating list of opportunities in which they can do more, be more, represent more. Yet we rarely ask them if they even want that. What if they don’t want to do more, be more, represent more? Are they less worthy to us? They shouldn’t be – but I have been caught in that very trap with my own child – pushing and pulling and begging while never actually taking a peek into the mirror and asking why her success meant so much to me.
I’ve found that we mothers need a brag book. Years ago, I suppose we’d have pulled a photo album from our purses to show our friends here she is playing soccer, here’s his 8th grade picture, oh, there they are at the pool. We don’t do that anymore, but we do immediately access our mental rolodex when someone asks how our children are doing. We go straight to the Wins File and start listing all things that fit – even embellishing those items that are on the fence of success. It sounds awesome to say things like President of Student Council, Volunteer in the Oncology Ward, 4.84 GPA, Dating Jake Ryan. But that isn’t the seat in which most of our children reside. There can, after all, be only one Valedictorian. Should my sweet girl feel ‘less’ because her seat was rows and rows behind? Does it not also sound awesome to say things like She’s doing pretty well – struggling a bit with some drama; I think she got a B on her Latin test last week; She and her friends have just discovered dungeons and dragons; I don’t know why her hair is lime green, I think she just likes it that way.
I don’t think nearly enough about what it’s actually like to be a teen girl right now – expected to have a prepared and monotonous list of nearly impossible goals at the ready each time they are asked What’s next for you?. I know we’re not supposed to say it – but what if my daughter doesn’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer or a CEO? What is she doesn’t care what fields women are breaking into this year or next? What if clubs and societies and sororities don’t matter to her? What if she really does just want to slide out of college with a degree, a nice boy, and plans to settle down? Start a life? Start a family? Shouldn’t that be okay as well?
There’s a reason there are multiple positions on a podium. We all stare at the person who lands of the top – but that young lady down there at the bottom? She might have just had the best day ever. Let’s not make her feel like less because her favorite ribbon color isn’t blue. Let’s not start firing out areas for improvement in our own quest to move her up to the next spot. Instead, we might ask ourselves why that proximity to first at the finish line is so important to us. And once we figure that out – ask her where it lands in her priority list. It may not even be on it. She may be satisfied right where she is.
And if she truly is content right where she is, living happily in her own skin – in this out of touch world driven mad by likes, follows, and clicks – isn’t that the biggest prize of all?