Feeling Validated

A month ago, I looked at myself in the mirror and felt great about myself. Today, I look in the mirror and am having trouble processing the same image that I was looking at before.

What changed? I’m wearing the same clothes, doing the same things, and basically haven’t really changed.

I see myself differently. Nothing has changed except I may be more tired now that school has started. Our schedule is in transition which doesn’t allow for consistency yet. Our schedule is about to change again next week so I can imagine that things are going to feel out of whack for at least another few weeks to a month.

I know I’m not alone in questioning how I feel about myself. I’m sure that a lot of women are also trying to validate themselves. Self-acceptance isn’t an easy thing. Just when you think you have it down, there is a change and all of a sudden, you are questioning everything about yourself again.

What do we expect to see when we look in the mirror? We are definitely conditioned for perfection. I also thought as I got older, it would get easier to accept myself but it hasn’t. I have high expectations for myself and the older I get, I can’t seem to accept that I won’t always meet those expectations.

It’s funny. You’d think that it’s because after 2 kids, I’ve gained weight or have more gray hair or just look more tired. But if I look at a picture of myself 10 years ago, I wasn’t in as good shape as I am now and I was always tired then as well.

So is it possible that it’s only internal? Is it that our inner self is what needs to be validated? I know I personally have been struggling with the adjustment between being a stay-at-home mom and an ambitious woman.  Maybe it was easier to accept myself because I had other things that made me feel good about myself going on.

It’s an ongoing struggle. I don’t have answers as of now but I hope that someday I do.

 

Having a Family: Commitment or Sacrifice

– By Anonymous

Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights – Pauline R Kezer

In reflecting on my life in the last 5 years, I see myself as a different person than I had envisioned. I knew children would change me and change my lifestyle, but not in the way it has. 5 years ago, I drew my energy from being around others, from being in social situations, and from conversations with my family of friends. I swore that this wouldn’t change by having children. Fast forward to now and I re-energize by having moments of quiet time those late hours when I’m awake because my 4-year-old is having nightmares, those wee early morning hours when not a soul is yet awake in my house, or those minutes when my office door is closed and no one comes knocking. When did I change from being an extrovert to an introvert?

Recently, it has been brought to my attention that I’ve been hiding in a cave of sorts. Whether it was a conscious or unconscious decision to limit my interactions with others is unclear; what is clear is that I’ve made some lifestyle changes and am re-evaluating and prioritizing those important things in my life.

I talked to several people during this enlightening time and have come to the conclusion that some people perceive the time spent with young children and limiting “mommy time” – time away from the children – as a sacrifice: a sacrifice of the self. Others perceive this time as a commitment. I count myself in the camp of those who consider it a commitment. Growing up, I saw my cousins allow their parents raise their children, giving more of themselves to their social lives and career ambitions. I never wanted to be the parent who relied so heavily on grandparents. I firmly believe that my children should know me as their mom. I am also an ambitious career woman (which also adds guilt because I spend so much time away from my kids) so when I am home with my family, everything else gets shut off. No text messages, no phone calls, no tv. I am committed to being “mommy” which means I get to have dance parties with my kids before bed, read stories, and enjoys tickles and giggles. Please don’t misunderstand. There are also moments of frustration but I’m committed to helping my children work through tantrums, fights, and experiencing such intense emotions.

Did I forget to mention my role as wife? I also have a firm belief that without a solid foundation, whether that is as a single parent or as a two parent household, parenting can go south real quick. So when the kids are asleep or entertaining themselves, I work on making that foundation as solid as possible (in addition to completing chores such as dishes, general cleaning and laundry).

So commitment or sacrifice? I suppose that is in how one perceives the various roles a woman plays when she becomes a mother (or the roles a man plays when he becomes a father) and also depends on how one chooses to prioritize the different aspects and responsibilities in his or her life.

I have changed and I am committed to my family. I’m not here to judge those who choose a different way, I’m just asking to not be judged for choosing my way.

Are You Ambitious Too?

Ambition. It’s something that isn’t inherently in all of us. Well, at least, not in the same way. Some of us are ambitious about our careers, some of us are ambitious about our hobbies, some of us are ambitious about something else entirely. So how do it work when two people aren’t ambitious about the same thing?

Being a first generation raised in America Indian, most of us are taught to be ambitious about our careers. After all, most of our parents came over here and worked extremely hard so that we would get the opportunities to achieve whatever we wanted. So, of course, we should be taking advantage of that and do the best we can to take their successes a step further. Most of the people I have been raised with all have that same mindset.

Here’s the interesting part for me: not EVERYONE believes that as well. There are a few people I do know who haven’t achieved as much as they are capable of. I don’t know why they haven’t. I don’t know if it’s a lack of ambition or if there are other reasons. I don’t know if it’s something that’s inherited or if it’s just a personality thing.

I’ll be honest. I do judge people based on what is perceived as a lack of ambition. I can’t understand it because most of the people I know do have some sort of drive. And when I say ambition, I don’t just mean education-wise. It could be ambition in that person’s career or the way they raise their kids or their hobbies. I see interests that don’t just involve being social but to better themselves and the people around them in some way. But if I meet someone who doesn’t seem to want to do anything, I have a hard time understanding that person. I don’t think that too many people like this do exist though. Most people do have interests and want to accomplish something in life.

I think what’s important to understand is that two people won’t necessarily have the same ambitions. My husband knows I like to be involved in a lot of things. In the past, I have simultaneously worked, gone to school, and been involved in dance. But now, as a stay at home mom, that isn’t all possible. When we talked yesterday, he apologized to me for not being able to pursue my ambitions. The thing is that I can’t have the same goals when my role in life has changed. But what I can do is change my goals. While he follows his ambition to grow his career and business, I am following mine to raise my daughter and to develop other parts of my life (such as this blog) so that I feel fulfilled. And we both support each other. In the end, both of us should be able to positively influence my daughter’s life because she can see that even though we don’t necessarily share the same ambitions, we both will work hard to achieve something regardless of what it is. As long as we can figure out what we want to accomplish together as a couple and as parents, we can figure out how to get there with the other as support.