Women's lives have changed so much in the last few decades that the way we live now is unrecognizable when compared to the lives of our mothers and grandmothers. We still want to be wives and mothers, but we don't want this job to be ours alone anymore. In any case, economics dictates that only a minority of women can be full-time mothers these days, and those who could afford to stay home might choose not to anyway.
These decisions about our careers and our home-lives profoundly affect all those around us. Yes, we are more empowered when it comes to decisions like this, but what about individual spiritual power? What good is increased wealth or improved social status? These only represent false security. The real prize is joy, integrity, true fulfillment, peace and the success that comes from being a happy person.
Unfortunately, we've grown more selfish in recent years. Compromise, sacrifice and even commitment seem to have become dirty words in our vocabulary. By killing ourselves on the altars of materialism and worldly success, we have morphed into our stressed-out fathers and lost the tenderness and magic of being women.
What's the key difference between men and women in terms of stress? Men are more single-minded in their goals and women are more multi-faceted - we tend to wear more hats and interchange them frequently. This juggling of roles can cause a great deal of pressure and confusion. Am I a wife first, a mother, or an executive/doctor/clerk? Or maybe my primary role is still that of daughter; and what about sister, friend and neighbor? Some days, it feels as if everyone wants a piece of each one of us, leaving us shredded and certainly less than whole. Remember that saying "no" is a handy skill to have; in fact, it's more necessary than ever.
While we can't be everything to everyone anymore, look what we've gained. Freedom, liberation, release - these are the legacies of the women's revolution; but they have to be prized and used carefully. We've had the revolution; it's now time for rebuilding. Why don't we stop trying to prove ourselves every waking hour of every day? Why don't we just get on with it? Think of the relief, the wellbeing and the joy that would flow from a decision like that.
As with so many things, it comes down to self-esteem. In the past, it wasn't only individual men that dominated women. It was society, and society is made up of all of us - men and women. So, if you don't like something, change it. If there is injustice in your community, fix it. You have the power. I have never felt disempowered by being a woman. I've made bad choices and paid the price, I've been hurt and I've been unfairly treated, but I have never been a victim. Being a victim is a choice too, albeit an unconscious one. It comes down to these two things - being a victim or knowing your own power. I hope you will always choose the latter; and if it's the right kind of power, it never abuses or damages or dominates.
If you value yourself, you will want fulfilling work, positive relationships, expansive experiences and time to rest, relax and just be. Fun and laughter and leisure; and yes, the right to choose how, and when, to do things. How much you're prepared to give and when it's time to stop giving. The power to have it all, or have nothing. It's your life. Take up the challenge of being your own person. Make self-loving - not self-defeating - choices and embrace changes that fulfill you personally and enhance your relationships.
What then is the true power of women? It is to embrace all that is wonderful about being a woman; being able to iron, write a best-selling novel, cook a stew, lecture a child, smile and be strong in the greatest tempest not out of martyrdom but out of courage, be a loyal and staunch friend; and most of all, be her own best friend.
So, make time to kiss your child goodnight when you get home from work or bake a cake or weed a garden. Don't be afraid to take a day off just to play and always connect with the best parts of your complex nature. You don't have to be a slave to anyone or anything anymore, so don't put the chains on yourself. Value your liberty - our sisters in the past fought long and hard for it. This is a fabulous time in history to be a woman. Stand up, be counted and be proud. You have finally arrived.
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