Being a woman is the worst, and yet, some days it’s wonderful. I have taken this time in lockdown to try to show up to my own life as a woman. I have listened to the podcast with Brene Brown and read Untamed by Glennon Doyle. One thing of the things I have learned and started to understand is that women are being applauded for being selfless.
“Pauline, how selfless from you to quit working as a chef and be a fulltime mother.”
“Pauline, how selfless of you to move to another country for your family!”
“Pauline, how selfless of you to make sure your dog, your child, your husband live in a clean home even though your own home inside your brain is dirty as fuck.”
As mothers and as women, we are applauded for being selfless and celebrated for the sacrifices we make. We show our daughters, the women of the future, that our own happiness is not that important. I have said for the last seven years, “I am the better mom and my husband is the better chef.” I have never heard my husband repeat this sentiment. That is because most days he loved me more than I loved myself.
I want to be a woman who is not selfless but brave and shows up for her own life. We need to teach our daughters to not celebrate selfless actions but to celebrate actions that will better their lives and not just the lives around them. Being brave and showing up for your own life is not selfish.
I have come to realize that I made the biggest selfless mistake as a mother, a wife, and, most of all, being a woman. I was selfless moving to a better place for my husband’s career, for my daughter’s school and my dog who likes to run in the forest. I was at home in Beijing; I might not have always been happy, but I was the bravest woman I have ever been in China.
I gave up a huge part of me when I moved away from Beijing; I stupidly thought that I would be rewarded by being a selfless woman. I took one for the team, but I weakened my own team. My dream was to be selfless for two years and then move to a better place, but this virus might keep me locked in this place longer than I can actually bear.
I cry while I write this because I don’t want to be a selfless woman anymore; I want to be brave and show up in my own life. I am not the wife of the chef, I am not the mother of Laila, and I am not the owner of the cutest dog in Fleet. I am Pauline—a woman, a writer, a fashion addict, a mental health advocate. I am also a mother and a wife—a brave example and not a selfless one.