Women’s Expectations of Themselves

 

Women’s Expectations of Themselves

Women are being sold a bill of goods and most of it buy it without questioning if its good for our mental and emotional well-being.  It’s the bill of goods that mass and social media is selling us. I have often found in my counseling work and in my social life that women’s expectations of themselves are totally unrealistic and yet this is normal and some of us believe it’s healthy!   Women struggle with not feeling good enough and falling short of “perfect” constantly.   Let me point out the obvious “PERFECT IS NOT REAL, THERE’S NO SUCH THING LADIES!”   We have expectations placed on us that men do not.   Now days many of us are expected to be educated and hold a career while also having most of the duty of organizing, cleaning and running a home.  Once a woman becomes a mother she f(or most families) is in charge of child rearing.  She is probably also in charge of making sure the family’s schedule runs smoothly.   Most women try balancing work, family and (the big one) looking a certain way and most of us struggle to keep up the balancing act.  I know some women that can juggle well for a little while, but when a crisis strikes a ball will eventually be dropped in order to attend to the crisis.   Society place expectations on women that we must not age and we must stay a size 2 all the while juggling several roles and numerous responsibilities.   Our society defines attractiveness for men by power, wealth and status largely leaving out the issues of physical attractiveness or not emphasized as much as it is for women. 

I have women clients that struggle with depression and self-hatred largely because they have fallen hook, line and sinker for society’s notions without examining them for themselves.   The have assumed “well if everyone says this is who I should be, should act like, should look like then I should try and be that person.”  Then when they fall short (and they will) then they feel like horrible disappointments.

I don’t know any woman that is doing all the following perfectly: holding down a 40 hour work week or full college class load, running and maintaining a home, cooking all the meals, cleaning the home, doing  and putting away laundry in a timely manner, taking care of her children, managing their school and/or lessons/sports schedule, grocery and supply shopping for the family, keeping her children well clothed, keeping in touch with friends, taking care of her hair, nails and skin, exercising daily, maintaining a flawless figure even after childbirth, paying the bills, advancing in her career, has deep friendship with at least 3 women and spends time with them regularly, has a good marriage and is constantly working with her husband to improve their relationship, is parenting well and helping their children not only succeed academically but helping them develop their emotional IQ and social skills, has good relationships with all her family members and in-laws, attends to spiritual needs daily (spending time with God or her higher power), attends a church or a some social meeting that benefits herself and community, volunteers her time to help the less fortunate, is trying to better herself with learning new things daily, keeping up with current events and staying active on social media.  Attending timely to unexpected things that come up like, someone in the family gets sick, damage to the home, the washing machine is broken or a car repair needs repair without dropping the ball on all the previous items I listed. This is not an exhaustive list; I just can’t think of anything else at the moment. 

How many women do you know that can do all of these well, all of the time without having any difficulty?   Now I know that some women rely (as they should) on help from their spouse to help them take care of the above list as they should but many women try to do it all without help from anyone.   That’s just not realistic!!!  Ladies look at your expectations and where they came from and start to question them!  Start with trying to put these expectations into words in order to uncover if they are realistic expectations.  Ask yourself where did these expectations come from? How and when did you begin to internalize these expectations?  Whose approval are you seeking by trying to meet all these expectations?   Perhaps once you have really examined these expectations you will begin to change or discard some of them all together.

 

The Misconception of Working Mothers

working mothers

What comes to your mind when you hear: working mothers?  A phenomenal multitasker?  Maybe the juggler in a family circus?  The Jill of all trades?

I am not a mother, unless you count fur babies, than I am a mother of four amazing animals.  However, I know quite a few (if not many) mothers of human babies.  Many of these mothers hold a full-time job  (or multiple jobs) to support their family.  I can only imagine the hectic schedule for a working mom and the little praise that they receive.  Most of all the perception that working moms are seen as happy in photos, loving the chaos in maintaining balance and as superwoman.  However, even superwoman has a weakness: bounded gauntlets.

So, how many of you, working mothers, out there feel bounded by so much chaos from deadlines at work, changing of the diapers, being the glue of the family and more?  I’m hoping that everyone takes a moment to watch the following TED video regarding the misconception of working moms and how America fails to acknowledge these wonderful women!  Say thank you to an amazing working mother today and ask how you can assist in lessening their burden of obtaining perfection!

A Mother’s Love

A Mother's Love

God has already described a mother’s love for her children and family better than I ever could.

“She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat.”     Proverbs 31:27 (Amplified Bible)

She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family…”   Proverbs 31:15 (NIV Bible)

“…Don’t turn away from your mother’s teaching.  What they teach you will be like a beautiful crown on your head.  It will be like a chain to decorate your neck..”  Proverbs 1:8-9 (NIV Bible)

To all the mothers (grandmothers, mother-in-laws, Big Ma’s, sisters, aunts, nieces, godmothers), we celebrate you!  So everyone, Honor your mother just as God has commanded us today as always.

Appreciating Moms

Appreciating MomsI spent Mother’s Day weekend in Houston with my mother and grandmother.  I am truly blessed to have such independent, caring and empowering women in my life.  They have experienced hardships in their life that I can not fathom.  Through the times of losing a loved one, divorce, sharing a cramped space together, they never stopped loving my sister and I (along with the rest of our family).  I wish there was more that I can do to show my appreciation for them being in my life, but all I was able to offer them this weekend was my presence, hugs and tons of kisses.

I can’t brag enough about my mom and grandma’s big loving hearts and always willing to offer everything they have to see others happy.  They sometimes forget to treat themselves.  So, to sum it up with a Bible passage that is fitting for the two queens who have raised me: here’s to both of you!

A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies.  Her husband has full of confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.  She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.  She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.  She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.  She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.  She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.  She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.  In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.  She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.  When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.  She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.  Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.  She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.  She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.  She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”  Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.  Proverbs 31:10-30

Many hugs and a lot more kisses!

Kristy

What praises have you given to your mother/grandmother this Mother’s Day?  Let’s celebrate the women in our lives by acknowledging and showing them our appreciation.  Cheers to all mothers!

“Like a Girl”

"Like a Girl"I recently attended Women to Women conference regarding women working with men who batter.  It was awe-inspiring that there were quite a few of us female facilitators for a Battering Intervention Prevention program (BIP).  Sitting at a small table of 10 ladies maximum, we discussed our roles as women facilitators of men’s battering groups.  The conference could have lasted more than the 4.5 CEU hours, because we had so much to discuss.  In the discussion, we talked about how men perceive us as women, as well as how us, women, perceive men.  Somehow society places us in a “man box” and “woman box”.  It’s a way to categorize and make sense of our surroundings, but these boxes do not have to have solid lines (and should not).  So, what is in the “man box” and “woman box”?

“Man box”

aggressive, don’t show emotions, never back down, get the last word, get the last punch, don’t be a pussy, don’t be gay, man/head of the house, provider…

“Woman box”

submissive, emotional, place yourself on the back burner, don’t compete, caregiver, belongs at home, get behind your man, cook, clean…

The lists can go on and on with both of these boxes on how each gender should act or their role.  When a man steps out of the “man box” and a woman steps out of the “woman box” they are viewed as anomalies, or abnormal.  After all, men aren’t suppose to show emotions… they might be caught by the “men police” or women are not meant for CEO status, unless she did sexual favors.

My biggest question to society is why penalize and shame those that step outside of our gender boxes?  Embrace and support one another in their own discovery.  Show each other that it is okay to step outside of these boxes that society has defined us in and create your own box.  What does your box look like?  Are you letting others define who you should be?  I’ll leave you with this encouraging video of knowing who you are and to embrace yourself, regardless of what society says…

 

What Are Little Girls REALLY Made Of?

whatarelittlegirlsreallymadeof
Every time I see a little girl, I find myself commenting on their cuteness and sweetness. “Oh, you have a pretty little dress on!”, “You are so cute!” “Look at those shoes!” “Those pigtails are adorable!!” Are these comments only solidifying the image-obsessed world we live in? Do we only notice our little girls for how cute they are and not for who they are or who and what they may become?  After all, our little girls are more than sugar and spice, so much more than how they look or what they are wearing. With so many little ones growing into women who base their self-worth and happiness on how beautiful they are, it seems we must start out young teaching our little girls (and little boys!) that a lady is so much more than the cute hair bows they wear and their baby doll faces.

  1. If you must compliment….

Compliment on their energy and good deeds too. Tell them how smart, strong or brave they are or how well they listen. Let them know you notice them sharing and helping their friends. If you must compliment on their cute clothes (because after all little kids clothes are adorable!), find a way to point out the color of their shirt or the image on the outfit. See if they can name the colors or  images on the shirt and compliment on how much they know.

  1. Be careful of your words!

Children soak up everything we say. We have to be mindful how we talk about our own self-image. Are we labeling ourselves “bad” for eating a piece of cake? And only “good” when we eat green leaves? Words are powerful!  Words can empower or shame. Be careful how you use your words.