Out with the old, in with the young, the young at heart, that is.
We are women of a certain age who are comfortable knowing that we have to grow older but we don't have to get old. We have lived and loved, loved and lost and loved again.
We are Women In Transition__W.I.Ts. Over the years we have gained wisdom, intuition and timing.
We bear the battle scars of our childbearing years. Once women in travail, we have emerged as women in triumph as we wave our stretch-marked banners with pride. Our weathered faces and slightly slowed paces hardly dampen the fires of our youthful exuberance.
We have harnessed our rampaging hormones and now wisely channel them into tamer pursuits. Buoyed by our newly found liberation, we are free to become motorcycle mamas, racetrack drivers (or spectators) or charitable fun(d)raisers,
F-U-N, that is.
No longer obliged to perform at the crack of Pavlov's corporate whip, we are carving out meaningful vocations while intuitively eschewing conspicuous but meaningless vacations, craving instead to live harmoniously and authentically according to our unique personalities.
We are reinventing our careers and reinvesting our talents. Whether we call it retooling, revamping, reorganizing, repackaging, restructuring, repurposing or rebranding, we are in a season of renewal. This time, our obligation is to ourselves. We are resurrecting purpose and metamorphosing with passion.
We are Women Introducing To Themselves Youthfulness, W.I.T.T.Y., that is.
The Huffington Post recently issued a challenge to its readers.
"With the benefit of hindsight," they assert "there are many things post 50s would tell their younger selves." They then invite their matured fans to share their thoughts now that they have experienced life with all its twists and undulations.
The challenge? Dole out the time-honored wisdom in three words.
Without hesitation, my three little words came barreling past my deficiencies. YOU ARE ENOUGH!
I have had the privilege of speaking with a number of women from varying walks of life in recent months. Many, successful businesswomen, are in a period of transition. In spite of their accomplishments some have allowed their shortcomings to maintain a stranglehold on them.
Concerns about grown children, financial setbacks, unresolved emotions from long past divorces and unrealized dreams are lassoing their otherwise promising futures. Through our conversations one common theme has emerged: worthiness, or rather, the lack thereof.
These women have shortchanged themselves because they subconsciously remain stuck in the narrative of their past. In contrast to their outward appearance, their confidence has taken a hit. They continually second guess themselves, measuring their self-worth by some imaginary yardstick, the selfsame mirage that their comrades-in-arms are convinced that they are being judged by. Yet, because of who they are, I see in these, my peers, a strength that belies our very nature. Who we are is so much bigger than what we do. No matter the challenge, I believe we are up for the task.
What we lack in skill, we can learn. What we lack in experience, we can acquire. Where we lack in time, we can delegate. It's not about resources, but about resourcefulness. We are able now, as we always were, and always will be enough. Because who we are is greater than what we do.
So, to my fellow W.I.Ts (Women In Transition), let us remind our current selves that with everything we've been through, every mountain we've climbed, every valley we've forged, we made it because we were enough. For every challenge that lies ahead, we are enough. To our younger selves, we can assure you to go forth with confidence because we know who you are and what you are becoming. Who you are is greater than anything you will ever do. And for that, you are enough.
Everywhere you turn this week, images of hearts abound. Amazon.com, Macy's, Victoria's Secret, as is to be expected, and for the daring, the patron saint of lacy lasciviousness himself, Sir Frederick of Frederick's of Hollywood (not for the faint of heart) are pumping up the volume on their Valentine's Day sin offerings.
When did private romance become such a public spectacle?
Is peddling wholesale love now the norm? Are couples um, buying into the commercialization of their special day? More importantly, what is the unmarried unattached woman to do?
Take heart dear single sistahs. There's much you can do to enhance your experience; not just on Valentine's Day but every day. On February 14, you may be alone but you're still alive. There's no need to feel left out. Don't you dare get depressed. How you deal with your single status is entirely in your hands. It's all about your attitude.
THE VALENTINE'S DAY "BE ATTITUDES"
Be Voluminous: with your vocabulary, your hair, your personality
Be Aligned: with your goals, your intentions, your beliefs
Be Loving: toward yourself
Be Enterprising: begin a project or hobby that challenges your limits
Be Nurturing: to those around you; sow seeds of kindness, reap a harvest in kind
Be Tantalizing: add a little spice to your life; unleash your inner goddess
Be Inspired: by stories of overcomers
Be Nature-aware: enjoy the bounty of each season
Be Enlightened: be open to the tenets of another faith while holding fast to your own
Be Sexy: pull out the naughty lingerie and fishnet stockings; wear them just for the hell of it; for yourself
Be Dance-a-licious: as Maxine our favorite email grandma orders, "dance like no one's watching"
Be Adventurous: try something different; a new language, a new cuisine or a new sport
"To thine own self be true . . . thou canst not then be false to any man."
Happy Valentine's Day!
Open Letter to Tyler Perry
Dear Mr. Perry:
“Club,” you say? Did you say, “Club,” as in “Single Moms Club?” My hackles are already up. The title, and more so, the subject of your soon-to-be-released film has me on edge. Why am I on edge? I am glad you asked. I am on edge because for the greater part of my adult life, I have been tagged with the label, “Single Mother.” While I am quite comfortable with my society-dubbed status, I do admit to being a tad uncomfortable with the treatment that will be accorded this touchy subject.
But you are the professional filmmaker, Mr. Perry. I won’t know how to direct my way down a one-way street even armed with a working GPS and a backseat Siri. So with much respect for your attention to your craft, I pray that you have captured with appropriate sensitivity the extraordinary complexity of the experience of a mother who is single - whether by choice or by circumstance.
My hope is that you will portray us as we are without yielding to the temptation to succumb to popular stereotypes. Statistics, i.e., numbers, are often cited to denigrate if not castigate single mothers for visiting upon society any number of social ills. The women (with names) who I have been fortunate to know have mothered productive citizens none of whom are drug-addled, prison-bound, underachieving criminals or prostitution-bound runaways. Were we to form a “club” I can guarantee you that there will not be any visible defining mark to distinguish us from any other group. Our scars are internal.
Sure, life has dealt us a number of blows. When life personally stared me down for two plus decades, I never blinked though over the years torrents of tears have escaped, a few drops at a time. There have also been laughter, joy and some luck much as there have been for my fellow singletons.
I will fork over the $12.00 plus parking plus gas plus snack to see the “Single Moms Club” when it opens in March. In fact, I will take along a few club members with me and I promise you, Tyler Perry, should it run afoul of our truth, you will hear from me again. From us.
My hope is that you understand that single mothers are not clamoring for special recognition. Desiring neither to be trivialized nor lionized, we don our S-emblazoned cape every day ready to take on the world of double-duty parenting and the attendant guilt that often leads to overcompensating for under manning the job. It’s not that we are lobbying for the Superwoman award. Far from it. However, like greatness, the cloak of multiplied responsibility is thrust upon us except, we don’t feel great much of the time. The “S” on our chest silently blares “stigma,” “statistic.” It screams from the status box on FAFSA forms and yells from the podium on graduation day as we accompany our graduate to her esteemed seat, proudly, singly.
My hope is that your research depicts the intangible cost__ the true cost of weighing health care and child care vs. a single income. Dollar amounts will never accurately convey the anguish of choosing one over the other gambling that with youth on our side neither of us would become ill. No accountant can calculate the earnings gained from multiple simultaneous independent contractor jobs against the decision to forego paid vacations and a 401(k), standard fare with a secure staff position. The lure of the former is not so much the lucrative offerings but the flexibility to take an unscheduled day or week off in the event of an early school closing or the inevitable babysitter woes. We squirrel away whatever we can for future college costs while stunting our own retirement-free future. Contradiction?
My hope is that you realize that dating is either a complicated issue or a total non-issue dependent upon multiple factors. Is it time? Is it safe? Is it the right thing to do? Is the child ready? Is the mother ready? There are more questions than answers and rather than stir already muddy waters some of us prefer the calm of managing hectic schedules and emotions in turmoil. For companionship, we throw ourselves wholeheartedly into every aspect of our child’s life, ensuring quality and quantity of time spent together while unwittingly creating a lopsided attachment. In my case, when my daughter headed off to college, I felt like I had lost my best friend. In many respects I did. I did. She did not. I was still wiping away the tears as she bounded away, unfettered, to explore new horizons just like she did when she was four years old and went to visit her grandparents without me for the first time. Clearly, she had need of other relationships and so did I. But, such is the life of some single moms. Our lives tend to be intensive rather than extensive.
I sincerely hope that throughout this journey you have come to understand or at least appreciate that a number of single moms are living the mother of all contradictions. Many of us seem to be doing valiantly on the outside. However, at times we struggle to maintain some shred of dignity while praying to God that the fraying edges of our own self-worth do not undermine the strength that we are trying to model. Ours is a nuanced life. It is a life that’s filled with pleasure and pain; not unlike what our coupled sisters face. We are in this together. I have long ditched my Superwoman uniform. I traded the outer battle gear for the under armour of peaceful resolution. I recognize that I, like every other mother, can only do what I can do. We do the best we can with the information and resources at our disposal. We soldier on with fortitude and faith.
My prayer is that after the film, because of the film, in spite of the film, film or no film, mothers everywhere of every stripe - single, married, divorced, widowed, foster, adoptive___ will support one another; that there will be no distinction by status; that we be celebrated for who we are and what we do. As we embrace the role with which we have been blessed may we remember that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.
Jennifer Lavern is a keen observer of the issues that affect how women view themselves and how they interact with their world.