I always wanted to be the sweet girl.
You know the one I’m talking about…..the one that just oozes motherly love even when she’s 9 years old!
The one BORN to be a mother.
I always wanted to be the woman you hear about on Oprah or in Good Housekeeping that just can’t find time for herself because she’s always giving to others.
Scores of books have been written for this woman who cannot speak up for herself or confront people who’ve wronged her.
They never forget a birthday. They are the 1st to coordinate United Way campaigns or potlucks at work.
Homemade cookies are a staple in their homes. Their front porch is always decorated per the season. I don’t even want to imagine the delightful decorations INSIDE the house!
But what if you don’t fit the description above? I know I don’t. And I’ve felt ashamed about it all my life.
Oh how I tried to be the sweet one. But really how was that EVER going to happen when I was raised by a single mother who was a Lion.
No I did not mean to say a “lioness,” I meant a LION.
A woman with a big personality and an even bigger laugh to match it. I watched this larger than life persona represent womanhood to me.
A woman who stood strong in EVERY situation. Alone.
She was not a cleaner. Or a cooker. The only decoration was a little nativity scene at Christmas. Her willpower and discipline were iron clad strong.
And I think even SHE felt ashamed of not being the sweet woman.
My mom made valiant attempts to be the sweet one through religion. Oh how she prayed and prayed for God to smooth out those rough edges.
Every effort was made to fit in with those stay at home wives of deacons. But it never really FIT.
And she knew it. Everyone knew it.
And by the way I loved visiting those stay at home wives of deacons. How WARM and sweet smelling those big ole houses were. There was ALWAYS meals or leftovers around.
The bottoms of your feet were never dirty after running around.
So which of these 2 houses do you think I have? You guessed right, the one like my moms! It’s not decorated and it’s cold because you can “damn well put on more clothes if you’re cold.”
There are no cookies in sight. I have no plants because frankly I’ve never been able to keep them alive. There are no pictures along the wall titled “family.” And I love cats due to their self sufficiency.
Does this make me less feminine? Less of a woman?
No! Not only do we as women come in all shapes and sizes physically, but our “femininity” does as well!
In my mom’s own quest to be the sweet one, she inadvertently pushed me to deny my own unconventional femininity in the pursuit of sweetness.
Family workbooks were done about Women of the Bible and the utmost praise was always gained through kindness.
The church we attended several times a week was laser focused on the sweet woman too.
No woman was ever granted a leadership role in any capacity. Most women were stay at home mom’s let loose to plan potlucks and volunteering.
THEY were the ideal sweet woman.
In Anna Kendrick’s new book “Scrappy Little Nobody,” she talks about how how “nice is overrated:”
“I gave up on being Nice. I started putting more value on other qualities instead: passion, bravery, intelligence, practicality, humor, patience, fairness, sensitivity. Those last three might seem like they are covered by “nice” but make no mistake, they are not. A person who smiles a lot and remembers everyone’s birthday can turn out to be undercover crazy, a compulsive thief, and boring to boot.
I don’t put a lot of stock in nice. I’d prefer to be around people who have any of the above qualities over “niceness,” and I’d prefer it if that applied to me, too.”
She goes on to say that “niceness as a social decorum didn’t come naturally to me. I really beat myself up about it.”
Like Kendrick, I beat myself up too about these less than womanly qualities.
And a big part of my acceptance meant redefining femininity AFTER infertility. Because I definitely felt LESS feminine.
For gods sake my body wouldn’t perform the primary physical function of being a woman. Thus leaving me childless. I will never have anyone call me “mom.”
That life changing title proved frustratingly elusive.
And to boot I’m a sub par wife (only partly kidding)!
But a couple of years ago I decided to write down who I really was. I may not be “nice” or “sweet” or a “mommy” but surely I had other admirable attributes.
Here’s what I came up with:
accepting of people
always wanting to be better
That’s not bad. Not bad at all.
And I agree with Anna, I may not be the typical sweet as sugar gal, but I’m a lot of other great things.
I will ferociously defend those I love. I am a lion, just like my Mama. I am strong and capable and will get through anything. ANYTHING.
Discernment seeps through my pores and I do not suffer fools gladly. That can be viewed as harsh, and I will admit comes out harshly at times, but when wisely molded it is a powerful gift.
I encourage you to write down with pen and paper all that you ARE. I want you to see it written in front of you.
And if you are reading this and YOU are one of those sweet ladies, I bow to you. We are all are feminine. And womanly.
Remember “when sleeping women wake, mountains move”
Continue on to the next step: My “Bad” Qualities: Reframing Thoughts