Getting an actual newspaper delivered has been a good family decision. We all have our favorite sections. While the comics are usually the boys’ favorite, one strip caught my eye this morning. A woman announced she’d decided to stop coloring her hair. As the punchline, her stylist said, “Ok, but it’s gonna take at least a month for your hair to grow out. Unless you color it.” Insert wry smile.
In other words, there’s the uncomfortable period of time where your hair is two colors. The old and the new. There’s always a period of discomfort when you transition to something new. In the gray hair scenario, you could see the tension between what’s socially acceptable, and what actually IS. Or simply the need to make a choice one way or the other.
Hair is amazingly political.
And one’s identity is intricately braided into their hair. (You’re welcome. 😂)
Woman with a super short cut? People have opinions.
Man who decides to go bald? Opinions.
Woman who allows the gray? Opinions.
I joke with my family that last year, 2020, was the turning point: my hair is officially gray. Not completely, but enough to entertain the question. Should I color my hair?
I realize nobody really cares; we can do whatever we want with our hair. Still, it feels like a DECISION. Like, if I color my hair am I giving into social pressure, the beauty industry, and not loving myself for who I fully am? Or if I don’t choose color, am I giving up, limiting myself to looking older? I know I’m not the only one who overthinks these kinds of things.
The comic presented a different aspect of the decision:
If you decide to stop coloring, you’ll have that awkward time when your hair is two colors. Unless you go for a super, pixie short cut, then there will still be an adjustment period. And it strikes me that this is the same when you decide to do anything differently in life.
There’s always the adjustment period. You can count on discomfort.
Decide to stop playing small? People have opinions.
Speaking up for yourself? Opinions.
Setting a new boundary? Opinions.
Saying no to the expected? Opinions.
Refusing to carry unnecessary guilt? Opinions.
You might ask: Why would people have opinions about someone not feeling guilty? Think about it though. What do people say when someone, a mom especially, acts unconventionally? What’s the response when a mom does what she wants? Judgement. When a mom speaks up for her own needs and dares to set a boundary, other people get uncomfortable. (You’ll feel the discomfort too.)
When you stop doing what you’ve always done, it will be uncomfortable. And then it gets better.
You will be uncomfortable.
People around you will be uncomfortable.
Strangers will have opinions.
Your in-laws will have opinions.
Now, we shouldn’t care about the strangers, because they’re a reflection of our larger culture that simply wants everything and everyone to conform to the patriarchal status quo that’s been hurting everyone (but especially women) for centuries. But, being prepared for that response from anyone is still important.
What’s so important that you have to buck the system?
You. You are. Your children are too.
Moms right now live in this dual world where, on the one hand, the messaging from their own families follow traditional gender roles. On the other hand, they are trying to raise their own kids in a less gendered, more fluid world. A world with more options and connection to one’s natural gifts. And yet, if moms don’t speak up and change their own habits, what gets passed down by default is the gendered dynamic.
“More is caught than taught.”
“Actions speak louder than words.”
Are you willing to weather the discomfort of others or be uncomfortable yourself?
We’re changing the world here. It takes action from every one of us. Other people are going to have opinions about everything you do or don’t do. There’s no way to win favor unless you do everything perfectly. Then you’re too perfect, and that’s not good either.
It’s time to step out of the comfort zone.
I can hear you: ‘Sheesh, I’m totally drawn out, overextended already. This is not comfortable! I’m exhausted. I can’t imagine taking on anything else or having the energy to disrupt things further.’
I get that. There’s never a good time.
But like it or not, that exhausted state you feel everyday IS your comfort zone. That’s the problem. That’s your normal. That’s the story we’ve been sold as mothers. That’s why it’s important that you step out of that zone into a NEW comfort zone that actually supports your wellbeing. And shows your kids, through your actions AND words, that there’s a different way.
If you’re ready to create your new comfort zone, let’s have a chat about what things could look like for you. I’m taking on new clients right now, and I know there’s a different way. (Click to chedule a call.)
Hey! I'm Cara Maclean, M. A., a Wellness Coach who helps moms like you undo what keeps them exhausted and overwhelmed. Together we cultivate the calm, joyful energy you crave, so you can handle any challenge with humor and grace. I'm also author of Just the Way It Is: A Look at Gender and Generations in Gifted/2e Families, Spring 2022, through GHF Press.
If you're curious about coaching, you can sign up for a free 30 minute consult call here!