Danielle Aubin, LCSW
Mamas, Deepen Your Roots and Take Up Space
Mama, you are not going to please everyone. There are going to be people that don't like you. That is just a fact of life. In fact, the more you stand up for yourself and learn how to speak your truth, the more you will face ridicule and pushback. This might cause you to doubt yourself. Know that ridicule and pushback are signs that you are on the right path. Sink your roots down deeper into the earth and stand your ground. The reactions of others are not a sign that you are standing too tall or that you should sacrifice your own needs for the comfort of others. Surround yourself with people who affirm you and encourage you to grow taller and take up more space.
Many of us (especially women) have been taught from an early age to please others to our own detriment. We take the displeasure of others to be a sign that we are deficient or failing at our "job" of pleasing them. We believe others not liking us means there is something is wrong with us. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The need to please others can cause us to get into all kinds of situations that are not good for us. We stay too long in toxic relationships, we don't speak up when we experience wrongdoing and we sacrifice our dreams because others disapprove of them. Unrooted women are pushed over by the wind of other people's expectations and we don't even make a sound. No one taught us when we were younger to deepen our roots, become tall, and push back again the social pressure to smile and say nothing.
Many of us can float around unrooted for years and believe that is just our lot in life. Some of us might come face to face with our unrootedness when we have daughters and realize that they will be resigned to the same fate if they are socialized like we were. The only way to root our daughters is to become large, space-taking, knarled trees ourselves. I say knarled because we don't need to be sparkly and girly and pink, we can be weathered, wise, and scarred and still be beautiful. We can take up space and be beautiful.
There are many ways to stake our claim to our birthright of taking up space and demanding that our needs be met. It can come in the form of disagreeing with our families of origin and speaking up. It could be tightening up our friendship circles, setting boundaries, and letting go of friends and acquaintances that are not who we want to be around. It could be writing a rock-solid birth plan and then hiring a doula who will ensure that your birth plan is respected and followed 100%. You are 100% entitled to your birth plan and it is your RIGHT to have the birth you want. Any belief otherwise is due to our socialization to please others, question ourselves, and deny our own needs.
Growing some roots could be spending some money on yourself, just because. Taking up space means using resources (money, time, space, etc) on yourself and your needs. It is hard to undo decades of programming that has taught us that we should be our priority. As mothers, we can fall even deeper into cycles of self-deprivation while we juggle the many hats of motherhood. Now, more than ever, it is important for us to center ourselves and make sure we focus on meeting our own needs. Our children need us, yes this is true but they need us tall, strong and rooted. Our children need us to take up space so we can show them through example that they are also worth taking up space.
So what does this look like in practice? It means living a life where you take stock of how deep your roots are and where your height is limited by socially imposed walls and ceilings. Then, you embrace the moments to break through the ceilings, dirt, and walls. Instead of holding back, you speak up when you need to advocate for yourself. You recognize that you are the expert on your life and your needs, not a doctor, not a therapist, not your parents, not your partner. You must speak up because no one else knows your truth as you do. It will feel uncomfortable at first but you will find your voice. And then, you will grow your roots.