Like many, I have recently seen the Barbie movie and loved it!
There are many good things to say about the unbridled giggles and conversations sparked from this blockbuster. However, there was one quote that really got to me… and not in a good way.
“We mothers stand still so our daughters can look back to see how far we have come”.
As I sat in the cinema, with my husband, 7 month old son and looked around at the other mums, dads and babies (the joys of Baby Cinema!), the tears came. And it wasn’t because of the relatively sleep-free evening I had the night before (!)
Here I am trying very hard to be the opposite of a mother standing still – to not become stagnant, to continue to strive for my success and stick to who I am, all whilst in the processing of becoming a mother. The knee-jerk reaction was to feel a healthy dose of mum guilt. But my rational brain said no.
What I felt was frustration, indignation, and sadness that this is a message that is being portrayed to parents as “the truth” - that they have to stand still or step aside from their dreams for the benefit of their children.
I FUNDAMENTALLY disagree…with this statement and others implied in the quote…for a few reasons.
Firstly - and perhaps most simply - I do not believe any human is ever standing still. We are constantly hearing, seeing, feeling, experiencing… and with the right mindset this is constant opportunity to grow. As a parent, we are constantly evolving our own perspective and approach as our children do the same. As professionals, we are consistently taking action. This can be moving us up, down, left, right or full circle on the career jungle gym. Whatever the direction, we are on a path of self-discovery, learning and growth.
Secondly, the quote implies that people can only see their success in comparison to the position of another. Using a measure of success that tied to someone else gives away all our power - we do not have control over the circumstances, experiences and actions of others. It is likely to leave us burnout and unfulfilled. Is this what we want for ourselves? Or to be telling our children?
Finally, have you found yourself inspired my someone stopping in their tracks and letting you go forth on a path untrodden? I think not. Instead…hello imposter syndrome, feelings of loneliness & apprehension, finding the opportunity daunting, overwhelming or that this is just downright impossible.
What is the alternative?
I am not satisfied by standing still. This is not what I want.
The message I choose to tell myself as one of two working parents, whose careers and wellbeing are important and engrained in their values and identity, is this…
We parents are continually growing and evolving. If we do so along our desired path, we are happy and fulfilled. In turn, our children learn they too can continually grow, follow their unique dreams and be the best version of themselves.
You do not have to stand still, if this is not what you want.
You do not have to feel the guilt that by moving forward you are doing so at your child’s expense. Quite the opposite. You are doing it for you AND THEM. Happy parents = happy children.
Who is the role model you have, who is out there living what you dream is possible for yourself? You can be that person if you want to be. You can authentically show others, including your children, the challenges and struggles but also the benefits of following your desired path, and offer them support by truly relating through your own experience. You can be the inspiration others might need to step into our own greatness.
How about we try measuring “like-for-like”? We are the only one in the race. Let’s create a vision of what “success” means for us uniquely, and measure ourselves against this. Let’s give ourselves kudos for operating in a manner that aligns with who we are, our values and priorities, free from the confines of what others believe we “should” doing. You, and only you, are then in control of achieving what you want. And you can see truly how far YOU have come.
This is not easy. If you want support to help you keep moving forward, power up to the next level, be that role model, define your unique vision of success and go out and get it in a way that is authentic for you, I’m here for you.