My eldest daughter, let’s call her Luna, asked me the other day in the car.
When a woman is married she is Mrs., when she is not she is Ms., but men & boys are always Mr., why is that?
Unmarried boys and married men also should have a different title, because it makes no sense that my friend Ryan is Mr. & the principal is also Mr.….
Just before that we had been listening and signing along to “Let It Go” (from the movie Frozen, in case you have somehow missed it, lol)
As you can imagine, I needed a few seconds to pull my thoughts together and provide an answer that was both accessible and relevant.
Me: “Well, long time ago – at least in French, maybe in English too but I am not sure -there was a word for unmarried young men – damoiseau*. At some point that word stopped being used – I am not sure why, but the two words for the women remained.”
Luna: “But why?”
Me: “Well, not so long ago, in the USA and in Europe, married and unmarried women did not have the same rights. For example, an unmarried woman could study, work, have her own apartment. But for a married woman to study, work & sometimes-even travel, she needed her husband’s permission. So maybe the 2 titles were kept to make it easier to know what your rights were, I am not sure.”
Luna: ”Boys and men are also allowed different things, so they should also be called different.”
Luna went back to practicing “Let it go” and I was left with my thoughts. Luna is 9 and at the moment she is an artist.
Luna didn’t pick up on the different rights of women – she is still young & that doesn’t fit her reality. In her world, women have jobs and go to school & leave their husband if they grow too unhappy with them. lol
I was left a bit sad. Sad to realize how deep and pervasive misogyny is. Even in something as simple as social titles. It also made me sad to realize that women are fighting the same battles, over and over again.
However it also reminded me of the importance of my work. I support women, in many different ways. One of them is being a self-care coach for successful & overwhelmed working moms.
And I feel that it is important because WE are the ones raising the children, even if we also work, even if we are the main breadwinners, the children are still mostly on us.
Fighting overwhelm in the demographic that has the biggest influence on what our children learn & observe is a great job.
Overcoming over overwhelm allows my fellow moms to have enough energy to have those conversations with their kids, to dare an explanation that might open the pandora’s box of “why”, to be willing to go there. It gives them enough mental space to catch the opportunity to sew the seeds of reflection.
But mostly it allows us to create a new reality for our children. A new paradigm.
One in which being an educated woman who chooses (or has) to work (or have a significant role outside her house – in politics, community service, religious organizations, etc.) while raising children does not turn into a nervous wreck or a time bomb about to blow any minute. One in which we show them that “mom” is not the whole of us, that no matter how happy & blessed we feel to be “mom”, the other parts of us are still very much alive, even blooming. We initiate them into the art of self-care, which for me is knowing and attending to all your physical, emotional and spiritual needs – from a place of sovereignty, knowing that only through that place you can both be of service to your beloveds and to the world while being of service to yourself.
Let me ask you, who taught you to put yourself last? To make sure your kids are well, your husband satisfied, your job done AND your house spotless even if you feel so exhausted that you are having a hard time thinking or breathing?
What if you had been taught that being a good mom required first and foremost that you take care of yourself? And you’ve probably noticed that I am not talking about getting a manicure or an occasional massage…
What if you had been taught not only to make sure you are at your best but also how to do it? The idea of taking time for yourself would not make you roll your eyes, it would be as natural as taking a shower.
When you are a pro at self-care, you would know how to decide when you have done enough, when you can let go, when you should request and even demand for others to do their share (and you would know what “their share” is). You would make decisions at work always weighing how does that work for you (even if it meant less time with the family).
Wouldn’t receiving that education have been a wonderful, wonderful gift?
I don’t blame our mothers, most of them were not very good at it to begin with plus I doubt any of them could have foreseen the situations we find ourselves in. Our current situation demands much of us at work, but offers little rewards to women (lower pay, lower chances of promotion, etc.), ubiquity has become mandatory – “always available” the curse of modern mothers, because for us it’s not just at work but also at home.
So after a while with my thoughts, I felt really good about my choice to use all of my experience as a “corporate mom”, as a facilitator and as a woman to help my sisters learn a skill that will not only be invaluable to them – to move from living from a place of constant overwhelm to living a radiant life, fueled by their own self-care – but also to their children.
So my dear, I’d like to leave you with a request.
The 8th of March is International Women’s Day – please take some time to celebrate yourself by reflecting on your self-care.
Do you know what your true needs are? (body, mind & soul)
How much do you attend to them?
What are you teaching (by example) about mothers & women to your kids?
Awareness is the beginning of the journey.
* the dictionary definition of damoiseau is a gallant man… But in French medieval books, the term referred to a man that was not yet a knight, or a young noble man.
3 thoughts on “When moms self-care…”
Marcia, this is such an important and under-discussed topic. I completely agree with you, although I admit I am not a great role model for prioritizing my own self-care. I often put everyone else in my family first, run around like a chicken with my head cut off and end each day breathless and wondering how I’ll “get it all done tomorrow.” But I do believe in the concept. Maybe I should hire you to be my coach! Thanks for joining WMAG and sharing your message of self-care.
Thanks Susan, I know what you are talking about – I did the headless chicken dance for years! 🙂 We all agree & like the idea but we don’t do it (self-care first) because we do not know how to do it (without being crushed by guilt, doubt & judgement). But as it is a skill, the good news is that it can be learned. That’s what I started coaching, to I make it sure it doesn’t take years but only months to learn & own this crucial skill.
I have always told others that I take care of myself first, my family second. Boy, does that get me a lot of strange looks and stink eyes! You raise excellent points. As a mother to a young daughter, I want to model for her that she needs to look out for herself first. Isn’t that the first rule on any aircraft- put on your life vest before you help others with theirs? And, as a small aside- I always go by Ms.- Mrs. just doesn’t fit me, especially since I kept my last name. Great piece!