If you’ve been around here for any length of time you’ve probably heard me talk about this before. It’s the focus of many of my speaking gigs and workshops. In fact, just yesterday I talked about this to a group of health professionals. It’s an important conversation that can’t be had enough if you ask me so I will keep bringing it to the forefront as often as I can.
Even if you’ve heard me speak on this before it's worth a read. It gets me fired up every time I talk about it. Maybe it will for you too.
Here it goes…..
When we talk about the life span of women in our culture, we often hear about 3 stages -Maiden, Mother and Crone.
The first stage, Maiden, is all about how we look and the shape of our bodies as we seek to attract a mate. It's an evolutionary thing. Unfortunately, in modern-day culture have become stuck here as the standard of measurement for all women regardless of what age or stage we’re at.
The second stage, Mother is celebrated and appreciated because, well…. procreation. But that appreciation is not without conditions. Think of all the “Get back to your pre-baby body in (some ridiculous arbitrary prescribed time)” BS that exists out there.
The third stage, Crone, conjures the image of a wizened old woman spouting wisdom from the mountain top. Doesn't it? Or in a more sinister depiction from the likes of Disney, an embittered old woman envious of youth and beauty. A lovely portrayal don’t you think???
But what about the years between the end of child-rearing and the wizened old lady? Are we supposed to believe that our usefulness in society is over as soon as our kids are grown? This is the longest of all the stages of our life spanning as many as 30 or 40 years. It seems as if these years have been totally overlooked in our culture. And even devalued. Total BS!!
I’ve termed these the Maven years. The definition of the word maven is “a trusted expert with knowledge and wisdom to share”. I mean how great is that as a definition of this time of our lives. It acknowledges the wisdom, knowledge, and experience we have collected over time with an ability to better the world with who we are. If as a culture, we only see value in the first two stages of womanhood, we are in fact overlooking the most powerful part of our lives.
The sad part is that even we, as women, often buy into the limited value perceptions of this stage by focusing on how we look and de-valuing the other aspects of who we have become. While we may know that we are much stronger and smarter than we were back then, we default to comparing our facial lines, shifting bodies, and greying hair to previous versions of ourselves. It’s easy to understand why; as women are applauded time and time again for maintaining youthful looks as we age.
Don’t get me wrong, I think all women should do what they can to feel their best as an act of self-care and confidence, whatever that means to you. Hell, I’m right there with you. I love my lash extensions - they're much less invasive than a facelift and it means I don’t have to put on make-up every day. I dye my hair because I don't think grey goes well with my complexion. I work out, yes for health reasons, but also because I want to look good in my jeans. Midlife women today are not what previous generations were. Looking good matters to us. We feel youthful and vibrant on the inside and we want that to be reflected on the outside too.
But can we also look in the mirror and truly see the amazing women we have become, beyond our aging looks? Can we respect and honour the Mavens we are without lamenting who we used to be? Can we focus the knowledge, insight, and experience we have earned towards meaningful endeavours like conquering fears, chasing dreams and discovering new parts of ourselves and our lives? My hope is that we as midlife women can begin to honour, respect, and embody this Maven stage of womanhood so that we in turn can show the world the inherent value of this stage of life.
OK. I'm getting off my soapbox now. I'm a bit passionate about this topic. LOL! I’d love to hear your thoughts.