Once upon a time, I was a little girl growing up in the 70’s and 80’s and I had a cubby house which my Dad had made for us one Xmas. I lost track of the amount of time I spent in that cubby. We had a huge dress-up box, little mini shop set up, tables & chairs and of course dolls. We spent hours in there playing all the stuff you do as a child, mums and dads, dress ups, pretending to work in a shop. How did we know what to play? We learnt by watching our parents and other adults around us. We learnt what little girls were supposed to do – to fantasise about being mums with babies.
Yet I don’t ever recall thinking that would be my reality. I didn’t feel the yearning or need to be a mum. For me playing those games in the cubby was just a way to fill time on weekends and school holidays.
However, I do confess to enjoying another kind of playtime much more. That was me playing grown-up career women. I would dress up in my favourite play dress, grab a handbag from the toy box complete with a wallet filled with play money and sashay out the door to my pretend car to go to work. Now that felt right to me
My love of career continued into the 80’s and 90’s when powerhouse women were introduced to into my world. TV shows like Melrose Place, Ally Mcbeal, Dynasty, Dallas and Murphy Brown. I wanted to be like Alexis Carrington & Amanda Woodward, kick arse power women who had fabulous hair, wardrobes, bank balances and that seemed to have it all. And of course, they were all sporting the mandatory power shoulder pads, resting bitch face, teamed with the perfect 4-inch classic stiletto.
These women were about independence and dared to defy gender roles defined by society. The 80’s was termed the ‘me’ generation and this was reflected in the portrayal of success and materialism. And this had a profound impact on this little chicky too.
In my influential teens, these women shaped my aspirations, my thinking and my attitudes. And the one thing many of them had in common – no babies
What I want you to think about is how did we get to where we are today? When you think about the journey our life takes then you need to consider what has influenced that journey and those decisions.
As women, we were raised to become mothers. We have babies thrust upon us when we, ourselves are still babies. We are read fairy tales like Cinderella and Snow White that are rescued by a handsome prince and live happily ever after.
We were taught female appropriate topics at school like sewing, cooking, English and art.
We were told in the TV shows and movies we watched, the news, society, our mothers, grandmothers and aunties that in order to live happily ever after, you get married and have children. We were raised in a way that tied motherhood to our identifies. So, if that is our generation then why am I on the only one of my 24 cousins who choose not to have children?
It’s Ok to want career, success, travel, big shoulder pads and an even bigger bank account. And just like Amanda Woodward and Alexis Carrington, remember it is OK to defy the gender roles defined by society and to make your own rules in life. After all, this not a dress rehearsal.
And just like that little girl playing in the cubby house her Dad built for her, this grown-up girl, understands the true significance of those games she played.
Everything we learn and experience when we are kids contributes to the formation and growth of this inner part of ourselves to help define who we are as women.
I say womanhood does not have to equal motherhood.
Image from Huffington Post