This past Sunday, we celebrated International Women's Day. To be completely vulnerable, I've struggled lately in feeling worthy as a woman. These feelings of worthlessness have left me more discouraged than I think I'm willing to let on.
I'm realizing a pattern in the life of being a woman. At each stage of womanhood, the world somehow tricks us into believing that our worthiness hangs on one single thing. As teenagers, we begin to base our worth on the amount of attention we get from boys. We grow a bit older and find ourselves measuring our worth by the body we see in the mirror. Then at a certain age (here in Utah it's our early twenties), we are only worthy if we have a diamond on our finger. The next stage of worth seems to be how well our reproductive organs perform.
I am entering that stage of life where I'm going to a lot of baby showers. And that's so exciting! I love watching my friends become mothers. However, just because many of my friends are becoming mothers doesn't mean I'm anywhere ready to become one. I live in an area of the world where the majority of women set aside a career to become a mother, usually at a young age. Let me first say: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. I know for so many girls, they grow up dreaming of becoming moms. But to be honest, I never grew up really having that be my sole dream. Growing up in a society that often taught women we were to be wives and moms has more than once left me wondering if there is something wrong with me.
In the sixth grade, we had to do a pretty extensive career report. For years, I'd been obsessed with detective work. My mom regularly bought me mystery kits and I would spend hours in my room "solving crimes". I immediately knew what career I wanted to study for my report: a Crime Scene Investigator. When the day came for us to give our reports, I was one of two girls in my grade that didn't give the presentation of being a hair stylist/stay-at-home mom (not knocking either of those jobs. I love the hair stylists and moms in my life). My friend who was the one other girl to not give the same report quickly added at the end of her report that she would probably be a mom too. I was so proud to talk to my class about being a CSI. I even brought my fingerprint kit and took everyone's fingerprints. It was a hit. I remember for a split second at the end of my report, wondering if I should add something about being a mom, but I couldn't do it because I didn't want to lie. I was 12 and had no clue if I wanted to have children or not. I've never been one to give into pressure.
Check it out! I actually dug up a photo from my 6th grade career report. Enjoy 12-year-old tomboy Kelsey in all her awkward glory.
Through my teenage years, I remember many a church lesson about motherhood and how as women we are natural nurturers. I know the point of these lessons was never to offend but to help us feel valued, but I never felt valued afterward. I felt worried. I didn't feel nurturing. The idea of homemaking made me want to gag. Did that mean I was broken? Would God not love me?
I can honestly say that I'm growing more fond of the idea of becoming a mother. It still freaks me out . . . but I do know it's something I want to do eventually. But I need to do it for myself and my family. I can't just become a mother because it's expected of me or because it would help me to fit in. I'm not on society's time frame. I'm on mine and God's time frame. I'm also aware that when I do have children, I won't magically turn into a wondrous homemaker as well. I know my strengths. Homemaking is not one of them. Sure, it's something I can work to improve at . . . but I still probably won't enjoy it. But you know what? I'm not going to become a mother so I can make bread and drive kids to soccer practice. I want to someday be a mother so I can teach someone of the profound beauty and value there is to life. I want to someday raise people who might have good influence in the world. That's what attracts me to motherhood. And I want to be an example to my own kids. I want them to see their own mother working at being an influence.
I know people don't always understand me. That's okay. The only person who needs to know the intentions of my heart is God. I know I am worthy in God's eyes. And that's all I need to know. So I'll try to not get frustrated when I call in sick and the whole office spreads rumors that I'm pregnant. I'll try to not get discouraged at church when people act like they pity me because I'm childless. I'll try to not grow annoyed when I'm asked for the millionth time when we are going to start having kids.
My complete worth as a person and as a woman is not based on being a mother. I'm much more complex than that. ;)
So girls, ladies, females: With whatever stage of life you are currently in, I hope you know you're worthy.
Your worth is not based on a relationship.
Your worth is not based on a prom dress.
Your worth is not based on a pant size.
Your worth is not based on a diamond ring or a white dress.
Your worth is not based on children.
Your worth is not based on how many homecooked meals you make per week.
Your worth is not based on how clean your house is.
Your worth is not based on the clothes you wear.
Your worth is not based on your education.
Your worth is not based on your paycheck.
Your worth is not based on your beauty.
Your worth is not based on your sexuality.
Your worth is not based on how old you are.
Or how young you are.
You are worthy. You are a wonderful, complex, passionate human being. Don't let anyone make you feel like you're not. You are worth more than you can imagine.