The message that this gave us, was that everyone else was more important and deserving than us. As we entered the male dominated work force, we took a back seat to our male colleagues. The promotions were usually not given to women, whom it was assumed either didn’t qualify, or would eventually leave the work force and disappear into the domestic abyss of children and “home duties.”
This practice is soundly confirmed as we enter motherhood. Of course our infants’ needs come before our own, and this continues until, at a subconscious level, you don’t even dare have needs because you are last on the list. And that is the order of things. As long as your family are all well and happy, things are right in your world. This is what seems to have worked for many generations.
But when is it OK to have needs, and be so daring as to give them voice? For many women, this has caused a dilemma because it conflicts with their ideas and values of what a good mother should be. Much to our detriment, we carry this mantra with us long after our “children” are self- sufficient and quite capable of looking after themselves.
Thankfully, thinking has changed somewhat and there has been a shift in the attitude to baby boomers returning to the workforce. Many women have bravely put themselves back out there, and have shown themselves to be talented, diligent and reliable workers, who create order and bring to the table some of the “old fashioned” customer service and company loyalty that many employers are screaming out for. More importantly, they want to be there. As an added bonus, they don’t take “sickies” and don’t get pregnant!
So, not only is it OK to put yourself first, it’s healthy. It may not involve work at all. It may be that art class that you want to try, further education that you wish you had, or even joining that gym and looking after your own health. Loose that weight, feel good about yourself. Give it a go, and if you have any doubt about making the change, just make your new mantra “Me first”. You could get used to it!
Michele Roach is an artist and former pallative nurse. She is a proud mother of two and grandmother of three children.