As a young, working single mother, I barely had time to eat, let alone rest. I remember being so tired when the children left for school, that I thought I would fall through the floor in exhaustion. There was little time to be in step with fashion, little time for days off filled with fun and little time to simply look at those precious children in pure wonderment.
The guilt that I felt over the years was overwhelming but was not really necessary. What was necessary was putting food on the table, growing a business, properly running a farm. What was necessary was sharing unconditional love at all times, forgiveness, presence, acceptance, nurturing, safety, nutrition and picking up every single time I failed. And I failed often.
To the credit of the children and with help from my mother, they navigated deeply impactful and distressing situations with calm and consciousness. It was through them that I grew and became a better person. And it was through me that they learned of strength and perseverance. Their mom was young, insecure, tired, self employed and without support systems of this day. But she kept trying and it was that strength that they saw. I could not give them much in terms of worldly goods, but I could mirror courage.
If you are a mom, daughter, auntie, grandma who is feeling guilt for not being able to “do it all” then remember that you were never meant to. There is no manual for any girl or woman on earth that has the answers to the complexities of life. We simply show up. We do our best and if we fail – we start again.
It is time to change the narrative and own our space. The energy wasted on self doubt, guilt, fear and worry would light the sky so why not take that energy and acknowledge yourself for what you bring into this world, into your circle, your community and family. Accept the struggle you endured, the growth you enjoyed and the possible that you see.
If you give yourself one thing this Christmas – give yourself credit.
It hurts me when I hear experts talk about “rampant suicide in rural communities among men” and I am concerned that men feel that they are not being heard.
In ancient cultures men and women worked together to grow and find food, raise families, govern the community, care for the vulnerable and host guests. As history unfolded and was heavily influenced by a variety of wars and religions, women lost their voice and men lost their partners to the relatively new expectation that they ‘rule’. A very unnatural characteristic in any individual.
There are fragments of that historical shift today. Remnants of fathers and grandfathers who did not display emotion – a basic human need for them and their children – and behavior in men that is reflective of the emotional abandonment, neglect or violence that they experienced as boys.
Despite being born with a will to love, to be tender and caring, some men say they feel confused by their role to be the tower of strength without displaying their feelings. They share that this often creates a high level of frustration, guilt or anxiety as there is a profound societal pressure to perform. This is an unrealistic expectation set by the standards of those who ‘rule’. The result is a feeling of inadequacy and shame.
It is time to change the narrative and toss the toxic masculinity and provide a loving and supporting environment for boys and men. The legacy can start at any time – by any man. It’s ok to express how you feel and follow your dreams. Its good to acknowledge all that is within you, showing the children of the future the beauty in being a man who is grounded in his core values while equally embracing life with his own acceptance and expression.
If you give yourself one thing this Christmas, give yourself credit.
How you identify in gender, whatever your circumstance, class, caste, region or beliefs – you are here for a purpose that is known only to you. There is no need to wait for approval or seek validation – just give yourself permission and the credit long overdue. Start today. You’ve got this!
Copyright @Brenda Schoepp 2021