Years ago, I was searching and wondering if I was on the right path.
My kids were very young. I felt worthless, exhausted, and mostly a failure in all aspects of my life.
I went to university to become an English teacher. I sailed through a master’s in education, then got a job teaching high school English. I was able to teach two semesters of college writing as an adjunct and it was a dream that shattered when we had to move out of state. I never returned for that coveted Ph.D.
I left the world of academia to be a stay at home mom, homeschooling my four kids. To many, I was considered a failure.
I grew up in a time that mere mothers were ridiculed (and I think they still are). The Supermom had to do it all – career, marriage, family, extensive social engagements, church, charity.
It’s too much.
It seemed like so many women had it all together, seemed at peace with their place in life, had a successful life doing whatever they were called to do.
I struggle. I feel like I am fighting something or someone all the time.
It took me many years to figure out my priorities as a parent and homeschool mom. I still have moments, days, weeks, seasons of doubt.
When we first began homeschooling, I made so many mistakes. I didn’t know really how to begin. I looked to other homeschool moms who had perhaps been homeschooled themselves or who had older kids and had been homeschooling them for years.
I questioned everything. I questioned my abilities as a mother and teacher. Even though I had gone to college for education and earned an M.Ed., I didn’t feel confident teaching my own kids for a very long time.
Some wives and mothers I knew who did not homeschool felt the need to speak up about how they thought it should be done. And many homeschool parents criticized me for not doing it their way.
I was criticized for answering the phone during the day or running errands with or without kids in tow. I was told to just get a nanny for the babies so I could be social. Or that I should do more for the kids and less for myself, that I was selfish to want any time or self care.
I’ve been criticized for attending church, not attending church, reading the wrong books or watching the wrong media.
Eyebrows raised over what I did and didn’t let my kids do.
So I’ve been told my entire life that I am just wrong. After so long of being told all these things, I started to believe it. And it wore me down and I got depressed and anxious. Then they want to throw pills at me and tell me it’s all my fault anyway, something wrong with my brain chemistry.
I worried about fitting in with the moms who seemed to have it all together. They look like magazine models and their kids seem perfect and their husbands and parents are proud and doting. Theses moms have lots of friends and social engagements, but somehow seem never rushed or stressed. How did they do it? Why did they do it? It was like Stepford and did I really want to be like that?
Would I ever get to that point of confidence?
After a women’s conference years ago, I met up with a group having breakfast at the airport before flights. I asked a very well-known Christian homeschool mom, author, and speaker if we ever get to that point of…
And she cut me off with an emphatic “NO!”
I was shook at her attitude, her rudeness, her anxiety. This lady is supposed to be a mentor to other wives and moms? Her curated perfection on social media, in her speaking engagements, and in her books seem all lies compared to her real self shown to us in that airport.
Almost ten years later, I want to understand where she was coming from, but I’m not even sure what she meant. That we are always a work in progress? But her delivery overshadowed any lesson she was trying to impart.
Some of the most self-conscious, cynical people I’ve met are self-professed Christians.
Forget about your life situation for a while and pay attention to your life. Your life situation exists in time—your life is now.Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
Confidence means many things to different people.
To me, confidence means becoming unashamedly more of myself.
I’ve been told that I appear confident. But they mean intimidating.
Why is it that confident women are considered brash, angry, hostile, arrogant, aggressive?
I am quiet. I am not shy. I am introverted. I do not have social anxiety. I think carefully before I speak. I observe.
I have felt a vast shift since I hit my 40s.
I am less concerned about what people think of me – my appearance, my parenting style, my kids’ dyed hair.
This summer, I bought new clothes that I never felt I could wear before: shorts, sleeveless tops. I am not ashamed of my thighs and arms. I spent most of my youth desperate for my body to change and when it never really did get curvy, I was so disappointed. I’ve never had a flat tummy or a big chest and that combo is unfortunate in our society and both women and men humiliated me for not looking like they thought I should. I’ve had so many ask if I’m pregnant because I’m thin all over but with this round soft tummy. I will never look like a magazine model and that’s ok.
I know that I am not stupid. I am not uneducated, but I still have so much to learn and I try to be humble and not insert myself where I am not wanted or needed. I trust my intuition more now. I made lots of mistakes with my kids and I am making amends now. I am ending generational trauma and healing my own self. I love seeing my kids become who they are meant to be – dyed hair, piercings, tattoos, unique clothing, whatever.
I wasn’t allowed to express myself and it’s good to see my kids live free.
I’m remembering who I am, who I was when I was a little girl, before I got stifled, and I feel more safety to express myself now.
I have long straight mousy blonde hair. I even have a few silver streaks. I’m tired of going to salons where they want to make me look like everyone else. I’d rather have dirty tomato-scented fingernails than have a manicure. I have stretch marks, forehead furrows, a vertical line between my brows, and an indention on the left corner of my mouth. I earned these marks. Why would I want to erase them with Botox?
My first three decades or so brought much anxiety with doubting myself and my circumstances with education debt, job security, marriage failures, pregnancy and motherhood.
I’m tired of the comparison trap. I don’t subscribe to shopping emails or newsletters. I loathe the social media ads. I don’t care about the blogger or influencer recommendations as much as I used to. I see the hot trends that everyone “has to have” and I just don’t really need any of it. I am more confident in myself and my style and personal needs. I actually really hate shopping.
When you do not know who you are, you push all enlightenment off into a possible future reward and punishment system, within which hardly anyone wins.Richard Rohr, Falling Upward
I do long for more than this mediocre suburban life and maybe I will find it someday.
I do get depressed by events happening in the world and by mean people who only care about themselves.
We homeschool based on interests and annual rhythms. I refuse to rush or stress over things I can’t control.
I’m excited by what the next few decades may bring.
I don’t have all the answers and I usually don’t even know what the questions are.
And that’s ok.
As we move into the second half of life, however, we are very often at odds with our natural family and the “dominant consciousness” of our cultures.Richard Rohr, Falling Upward
- Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing As We Age by Mary Piper
- Crones Don’t Whine: Concentrated Wisdom for Juicy Women by Jean Shinoda Bolen
- Rebellious Aging: A Self-help Guide for the Old Hippie at Heart by Margaret Nash
- Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
- Disrupt Aging
- A Life in Progress
- The Life On Purpose Movement
- Raising Yourself
- Lisa Olivera
- Revolution from Home
- Rebranding Middle Age
What does confidence mean to you?
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