Raising a daughter has been a very eye opening experience for me; it’s been very different than raising my son so many years ago. It’s interesting and challenging that I spend so much time trying to keep my girl from growing up so fast, seems as a society we have decided girls just need to grow up and grow up quickly. Today’s five year old in many ways is like the middle schooler of yesterday with regards to attitudes and desires. Lately I feel like a broken record as I explain yet again why she can’t watch this show or that show can’t do this or that and while its nice that little Jane does that, it is not part of our value system for our family.
What I am struck by though is that in the midst of this battle to keep my girl on a developmentally appropriate track is how as a society when it comes to women and girls in general we are all skewed. Young girls are in a race to grow old quickly yet when you grow up, as women the focus becomes stay young. It’s no wonder you see mothers and daughters who look more like sisters than parent and child, getting old…real old is not hip, not valued and frankly it’s a shame.
In our quest to ignore biology as the elders (our grandmothers, aunts and others) die away we no longer as a collective pass on knowledge that those women understood about the very ways of being women. Lately I find myself missing my Granny who often would talk to me about growing old and the very real changes that happen within for women. I remember being young and thinking ok…she is yapping again. Now I treasure the bits and pieces of knowledge that I recall from those conversations.
Nowhere is the lack of mother wisdom apparent than with women and our bodies and the changes that happen as we get older. Oh, we know the basics, one day we will no longer menstruate and then we will be menopausal…the end. Or so we think. Yet many women are not aware that there is a state that happens before menopause that is commonly referred to as perimenopause. In our quest to stay forever young even women who consider themselves knowledgeable often don’t realize that the pre-menopausal state can occur a good 10 years before menopause officially hits. What that means practically speaking is you can be in your late 30’s or early 40’s and start experiencing these changes. You are still fertile and all that good jazz it’s just that the body is slowly prepping for that life transition. Ask me how I know? It was over a year ago that I was told I was perimenopausal, at first I like what the fuck? Yet it started to make sense that many of the changes I was feeling are tied to a new transition.
However greater than the physical changes is the mental, emotional and even spiritual changes that occur. As Joan Borysenko states in A Woman’s Journey to God “It is a miracle of feminine biology that we undergo a major mental housekeeping in preparation.” Much like the fact that in the few days leading up to our periods we feel greater clarity in our lives, being in a perimenopausal state provides a similar clarity that affects every area of our life. It’s no wonder or coincidence that so many women in their late 30’s and early 40’s flip careers, leave marriages or even realize their true sexual orientation. Its not about being flighty it’s the fact that at this stage in life we are truly comfortable in our skin and no who the fuck we are. Yet in a culture hell bent on keeping us young, it’s easy to miss these signals if we don’t realize the gifts that come with accepting the aging process as a gift.
Yet even for me it bothers me at times that we live in a time when we can share and talk about so much of ourselves but talk about deeply personal shit like this and you can feel the collective energy get sucked out of a room. If we truly want to give our girls a gift we need to start the get open about the amazing circle of life that resides within the female body. I admit as someone who has identified as Christian for many years, lately I find myself reading a lot of pagan and Goddess centered works in part because they are open and embracing of these changes in ways I feel that were lost with Christianity.
In closing…embrace your being and the changes!
4 thoughts on “What we don’t talk about…women wisdom”
As a woman entering a transition phase, I can definitely say there is change on the horizon.
I cosign the book The Dance of the Dissident Daughter (one of my faves)!!
Like you, Shay, I have become drawn, too, to pagan works that permit a woman to delve into who she is and who she is becoming; it’s one of the main reasons I am drawn, too, to the character of Abbie in Pearl Cleage’s novels. At 44 years and one week, I don’t know how much I’m beginning to experience perimenopausal symptoms, but I do know that I feel a sense of rebirth in this life stage, and I’m eager to explore it as fully as I can.
Thank you for this!!
Great points! You got me thinking about my granny who lived with me for about eight months before she died. Watching my granny grow weaker by the day was so very difficult; talk about stress mine was off the charts. With that being said, the blessing she bestowed upon me were her talks about how she grew up in Arkansas picking cotton and how she and my grandfather jumped the broom right in the cotton field at ages 14, and 16 respectively. During those 8 months she even told some family secrets, a few that I really didn’t want to know, but I do now. She also share about the emotional pain she suffered when she place my mother and uncles in an orphanage, she talked of the fear of my grandfather from domestic violence. To say the least, that one shocked me, he was always my “grandpappy”, the sweetest man on earth, I thought. In her final days I had to bath her and I knew my grandmother wasn’t going to like that because she was a proud and strong black woman. So I decided to make some fun out of a bad situation. As I began to wash her vaginal area, I look down, and then looked up and her and said, “Granny, now I know why I don’t have much hair down there, you don’t have any either” I will never forget her smile of relief, her body immediately relaxed and I continued to talk to her while I was bathing. In the end being a caregiver, was rough and my grief was very intense when she left this earth, but as time passed I starting thinking about the gift she had bestowed upon me, and that is the gift of “women wisdom” that you write about in this article. I to have daughters, my biological daughter is 32, my niece’s I raised are 30, and 20, and my nephews I have raised are 24 and 27. As they were growing up I tended to place more importance on the black males, because I knew they had a tough road to tow. I did make the mistake in thinking that my daughters needed less time and attention because somehow (in my mind), I thought that somehow like osmosis they would get this thing called life and experience by just watching how I do it… Well I now know that they needed more and I take every opportunity to share the “women wisdom” that I have acquired through my experiences and those experience of my mother and grandmother that were passed down to me. In fact at my eldest daughter’s wedding shower last year I had a plate inscribed with the words, “circle of women’s love” and each woman at the shower shared words of wisdom for her marriage in writing on the plate and during our circle of love ceremony. I now take every opportunity to talk to them about myriad of issues related to being woman. I also give advice, but I have learned when to step back and allow them the opportunity to grow up. It is during these times that I sort of become “granny” and just share my wisdom. I know I have taken this discussion a little off track… but I guess I needed to say what I did. Keep your baby girl safe and loved…and keep giving her your women’s wisdom.
Hey Shay, I highly recommend Sue Monk Kidd’s Dance Of The Dissident Daughter, if you haven’t read it.
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