The New Conventional Femininity
by jane arie baldwin
(originally posted July 29, 2010)
“When she stopped conforming to the conventional picture of femininity she finally began to enjoy being a woman.” — Betty Friedan
I wanted no part in it. My whole life I wanted nothing to do with the trappings of being conventional — I shunned conformism, creature comforts, and practicality for a gypsy life of travel and solitude well into my twenties. Then I found true love with Jimmy and through the twin sisters of fate and destiny we landed a beautiful baby girl into our laps. I still would not give in to the traditional convention of family life. I would not allow myself to get comfortable with the idea that being a wife and mother could in and of themselves bring me joy. So what happened? Why now? Why do I feel content and full in these rolls to the point of wanting to do them really well, to the point of being invested in them 100%? The answer lies in how my view of myself has changed over the past decade.I have noticed lately a deep rumbling in my being to experience – well the only way I can describe it is — a deeper connection to the fabric of my family, and my home. That is, basking in the beingness of my role as wife and mother. I spent years running away from what I thought “wife” and “mother” meant, the conventional rolls I thought they would force me to play. It scared me, frankly.
When I look back at my personal history and connect the dots, almost everything scared me. I was skeptical of anything and everything. I know that my negative and fearful attitude created the conditions for cancer to thrive in my body, in my second chakra, in the place of: life, beginnings, relationships, money, stepping out into the world with others. Getting cancer was the trigger that showed me that I had to shift out of my negative place of being yet I had no idea how to do so. One of my biggest awakenings occurred when I realized that the negative and fearful way I felt about having a conventional life — marriage, kids, family — translated to other areas of my life. Negative and fearful was the thread that ran through most of my thoughts. Skepticism lay like a smoky haze at the root of my being.
It’s more than just a mellowing with age that has happened here. My faith in myself grew with the planting of my dreams. With every step toward a dream I noticed those voices got louder and stronger NOT in my favor. For many years I put off getting my training in the healing arts, “now is not the time, your not ready,” said the skeptical voice. When we found the ranch, the first thought that popped into my head was, “don’t get any big ideas here that you can’t fulfill.” It was a constant negative influx of words, thoughts, and feelings feeding my brain like a drug dealer pushing crack.
“WOW!” I realized. That skepticism and negativity doesn’t only show up in my relationships with others, it’s that way with me too!” What an eye opener. That’s when I stopped identifying with them. “What a relief” I thought. “That’s not me. Those are only feelings that I’m identifying with — as me.”
Now I can begin to mellow. I’m no longer frozen in paralysis when the dragons of fear and skepticism show up for a fight. I’m getting better at noticing what triggers the fears that come up around how I’m running my business and how I’m caring for my family as a wife and a mother. I’m learning how to manage them rather than feed them. My identification with my conventional rolls no longer scare me, I welcome them with open arms. My femininity no longer carries the trappings of the past, it expands with the beginning of each new day.