Monday, January 28, 2008

Shout it!


Ignore the "fandom" and "fanfiction" catalyst of that post. Just kind of latch on to the central idea, 'kay? The part around the naughty words in capital letters. :)

I had kind of a weird dynamic growing up. I was born in 1970 so, of course, was parented in the midst of the feminist movement. My mother wasn't an activist. She was a single mother (by the mid 70s) who became an executive vice president, a copywriter-of-the-year nominee, and a successful small business owner out of necessity and because she was smart and talented. She was a truly superb role model in that regard, and she raised me to be the same, to believe I could do anything I damn well wanted to do.

Never once did she tell me to hide my light under a bushel (in fact, she used the phrase a lot, as in DON'T DO IT). She never told me it was inappropriate to be proud of yourself, or to talk about your achievements (though bragging should be avoided--there is a difference). And yet, she did the exact opposite.

It wasn't her fault. Her generation, I think, was caught between the era of the little woman and the powerful woman. They worked very hard to be the latter, but had decades of the former force-fed to them, in insidious ways. Again, it's weird. My grandmother was a single mom. She worked for the FBI. Her mother worked in a shoe factory and was more independent than any other woman I've ever met. And yet...and yet...

My mother walked the walk, she talked the talk, yet she still sent the message, via words and actions, that her remarkability should be ever unrecognized. That everyone else was more important than she was, did more important things, had more value in the world.

A great deal of it was the DoFor Syndrome. She had to always do for others first. Her stuff, her needs, always came last. Some of that was single motherhood, but it had a side effect of making us think she didn't value herself. I always believed she didn't, and I hated it. And I've fought guilt my whole life for not being that way.

And boy, am I not that way. Ask my family, my friends--I do not come last. I make the sacrifices for my family that are necessary, but I still do the things I want to do. My needs never go unmet.

So I think my challenge is to keep the kids from absorbing the wrong message from that. I don't want them to cross over into selfishness, to take self-focusedness to an extreme. I know that's something I could can easily do, and I have to remain aware of it and keep it in balance.

Yeah, that's the most important thing I want my kids to learn from me. Balance.

Anyway. Shout it, Kali. And accept your applause.

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