By Marcia Barhydt, Editor ~ Women of a Certain Age
In the summer issue of WE Magazine, there are some terrific articles about refreshing, rejuvenating, both in our personal and our business lives. Brava! We need so much to start caring for ourselves, nurturing ourselves, growing ourselves and if you haven’t started doing that, maybe right now, this summer, is a good time to consider starting to re-prioritize yourself.
As I reflect from the wisdom and safety of my 60’s, I’m struck by how very very hard we, as women, strive to be all things to all people in our 20s, 30’s and 40’s.
It’s a hot workshop topic now – dealing with stress and finding ‘balance’. I can only assume that balance is to be prioritized right behind being a perfect mother, a wonderful wife, a compassionate daughter and a businesswoman who excels her way up the corporate ladder.
The women’s movement of the 60’s brought us out of the straight jacket of wife-hood and mother-hood. We learned that we had a right to try anything we wanted, and we had a right to expect equal treatment to men while we were doing it.
Nobody is happier than I to have the freedom of choice that I now have. Sadly, this freedom of the women’s movement quickly accelerated to creating a super-woman – this perfect creature who could have it all and keep everything well balanced. Home life, caring for aging parents and preschoolers all at once, being a sparkling hostess for our husbands and climbing the corporate ladder to heights we’ve never reached before – all these roles were packed up together to equal the new woman.
But wait – where’s the time she spends on herself?
She finds time to go to her favourite gym only by getting up at 5:00 am each morning or going during her lunchtime. She finds time to read a new book only after getting the kids fed, bathed, read to and off to bed, followed by supper with her husband, cleaning up after dinner and preparing for the next morning when she must wake the kids, get them fed, dressed and off to daycare BEFORE she goes to work.
I hear advisors now recommending that we should schedule time every week or so to have a date with our husbands/partners/significant others! And put that in your Blackberry too! Is this the balance we’ve worked so hard for? Are we sure we want to be this exhausted?
Our mothers and grandmothers knew about balance – they worked hard all day long and often into the evening, but they always made time for church suppers, coffee klatches, bridge clubs and camaraderie with their neighbors and friends. Quilting bees weren’t a craft activity as much as they were a social gathering when all the women could find help and support from each other.
Today, a woman’s idea of putting herself first often means sending her shirts to the cleaners instead of ironing them herself and buying ready-made foods instead of making them from scratch. End of list.
Today, women are torn between caring for their children and reaching and shattering that glass ceiling. Today, there are indeed women who have succeeded in breaking through to the top of corporate life and these women are to be congratulated.
But I wonder what the cost was to them.
When I became a mother, it was a given that I’d find a good sitter and return to work and that was something new from my own mother’s time. Now, it’s a given that mothers return to work and the kids go to daycare. The cost of living today precludes anything except 2 working partners and that’s something new for me to accept.
So, the point of this rant is to denounce the super woman and all that she stands for; to tell all the young women of today, our daughters, our colleagues, our granddaughters, that to pursue perfection in multiple roles is not only unnecessary, but indeed harmful; that you cannot be all things to all people and we’d all be happier if you quit trying; and mostly that it’s ok and desirable for you to say ‘I don’t have time to do that’ or ‘I’d prefer not to do that’ or ‘This is more than I choose to cope with’.
Change your life to reflect scheduling as unnecessary, to prioritize yourself and your family as number 1 in importance, to find time to sit quietly alone in a dark room, to live in the moment rather than worrying about the next crisis. Do this while your children and your marriage and your friendships are still young so you can enjoy them to the fullest.
I once heard a woman speak about taking care of our bodies. She pointed out that everything we do in life is cumulative and she had a terrific line, which said something like “For every concert you miss in your 30’s, your body will remember in your 60’s.” Her point was that we need to nourish our own souls early in life in order to avoid paying the physical price later in life. Or in order to avoid a desolate soul.
Balance, as we understand it now, is unattainable – it’s just another task we add to our workload. We need to add some work to our balanced life, not vice versa. We need to rethink what’s important and to reprioritize our goals to reflect living in the moment, to reflect nourishing ourselves.
Get out the hammock and spend some time with yourself!
© Marcia Barhydt 2010 ~ Marcia Barhydt is our newest Editor to WE Magazine for Women. She will be writing our Women of a Certain Age Column and will be talking about life, love, health and having fun at any age! At 64, Marcia Barhydt started writing for women over 50. She is a regular contributor to Kalon Women, WE Magazine for Women, BoomerCafe and Women’s Post.
Marcia’s new book, Celebrate Age! is a collection of her thoughts, rants, raves and wisdoms learned after 50.