So I think I’m finally tackling the post about gender roles and labels that I threatened a few weeks back. This is an exploration into my own thoughts and feelings as much as it is a writing exercise as I’m truly not 100% certain what I feel or think on the topic other than it being irksome. Bare with me as I wade through some baggage.
I started writing and thinking and it went on and on until I got bored and tired of thinking and tried to sleep. Sleep didn’t come as my mind was still racing but in slow motion (if that makes any sense…it was slowly racing, which is really unproductive.) so I took a nice long hot shower and in those moments of not actively thinking, but passively feeling out this topic, I got a surge of clarity.
This is a FEELING blog, this is not a THINKING blog. My thoughts on the topic are just that, inconsequential constructs of my mind. What has been irking me about gender roles is my feeling towards them, largely feeling limited by them, which sounds dumb when you say it like that. I was feeling limited by others people’s, or what I think to be other people’s expectations of certain roles.
The labels we give things, the roles we assign, these are necessary for living this physical experience. Its useful for me to be able to point to something over there and say, ‘hey look at that ________’ and have you look at the same thing because we mutually understand the label given to identify that object. Its useful for me to attach expectations to a label or a role because it helps me define what I want or don’t want, like I want a partner that respects me and is loyal and loving and passionate and spiritually connected. It’s also useful for me to have expectations attached to my own roles, i.e. as a mother I expect myself to be loving, dedicated, present, available and so on. It is NOT useful for me to try and live up to someone one else’s expectations of that same role or label. It is NOT useful for me to feel limited by my own roles or labels because I am the creator of those attached expectations and no one else. If I’m feeling limited I need to expand my expectations, because its MY ROLE and nobody else’s.
At one point I had the feeling that men had more liberty within a family structure to be absent, or to have passions outside of the home while women were expected to be completely fulfilled as mothers, or that women were/are more quickly labeled as ‘bad’ if they enjoyed spending time away from the home. I felt this to be limiting. Now I realize, that doesn’t matter. Only I can limit myself. Other people might not agree with my actions or lifestyle, but luckily I do not need to judge myself according to their value systems but to my own.
I was feeling trapped by the words, ‘Mother’ and ‘Wife.’ But if I remove the burden of feeling like I need to answer to or live up to other people’s definition of those words, I am free to make my own definition and how beautiful is that? …MOTHER…Mother is a beautiful word and a role I am gifted to get to play in this life.
As a mother I expect myself to give unconditional love, to be present and strong but also gentle and soft, to lead by example, to empower, to engage, to build a framework of trust and confidence in my daughter so that she can handle the world with composure and dignity and remain true to herself. I expect myself to be nurturing and caring and forgiving. As long as I achieve these things, I’m forgiving myself for not being the perfect ‘homemaker’, or ‘housewife’; in fact, I’m excusing myself from those roles. I do not accept them. I am not a ‘homemaker’. I am not sure who made this home, but it was not me. I am Mother, I am a lover and that is not tied to any home or sense of place, there is no brick or mortar, there are no dinners to be made, or shirts to be ironed, there is just love to be given and received. I accept this new definition. I am a MOTHER, I am a WIFE, I am a COMPANION, a PARTNER, a WOMAN. I am all of these things and all the limitless potential behind these words and roles. I refuse the limits and accept the opportunities.