As a child, I knew my family–even the extended one–was different. On my mother’s side, I’m one of 22 first cousins.
I have three on my father’s side.
My mother’s family was a prominent one at one time. We were like the Kennedys in some ways, but without all that pesky Irish Catholocism. We come from a large ranching family that produced successful progeny: this includes, but isn’t limited to several attorneys, a few teachers, successful realtors, one golf pro, one PR/Marketing guy, several oil and gas types, a member of the House of Representatives and one bombastic broadcaster/blogger.
My father’s family was smaller, but successful in its own right. They owned car dealerships. They were given credit for owning the first home in the area with central air conditioning , every family member had his or her own car as opposed to one family car only AND the Kendricks get the nod for one of the region’s first truly scandalous divorces.
My maternal and paternal families have all known strife and now my immediate one is in a state of flux. Some things have transpired recently and in true Kendrick fashion, it has resulted in massive melodrama, horrific misteps, egregious communication snafus and plenty of angry torch and pitchfork wielding emotions.
All of these things could have been avoided if we or at least the members of my immediate family had been more self-actualized, but somewhere along the way, that wasn’t instilled in us or we didn’t posses the tools to find this elusive internal strength on our own. We never understood that was a viable goal for which we should strive.
But why? How? For my sisters and me, was this part of our own small town Catholic roots? Was this handed down from generations of people who never found this either? Is this failure to launch, innate?
I don’t know and I wish I did. I can however, state proudly that I think there’s something to be said for a self-actualized woman, especially. One who has graduated from High School, left home for college, got her degree; landed a job in her chosen field, lived alone for a year or two and gave herself the opportunity to make BIG TICKET purchases and BIG TICKET life decisions, on her own. And if any of them proved wrong, she had the sense and stamina to resolve them herself. If marriage and children come later, great. If marriage and children don’t surface, well, that’s okay too.
To find one’s potential (especially for a woman) and live up to it is a wondrous, glorious thing and increasingly more essential in this day and age. Does a college degree, two years of solo apartment dwelling and as many years in the workforce guarantee happiness?
An emphatic ‘no’, but all of these things can work together to instill in us, a sense of self-worth and in that in turn, promotes self-esteem and that my friends, IS the Scotch Guard in life. Healthy self-esteem helps repel an abundance of negatives. It keeps the losers out of our lives, the manipulators, too and attracts those who are like-minded people who by and large, are just as mentally and emotionally healthy. Self esteem helps keep us more honest in our choices.
I never married, but my sisters did and might I add, at a very young age. They went from daughter to wife, then mother in a brief matter of time and then immediately they became identified solely in their roles as wives and mothers. I don’t negate the importance of these roles, but very often moms and wives operate within limits set for them by husbands or from parental input that caved to societal mores.
For my sisters, the women that they were; that they are, got lost in one very involved and prolonged identity crisis. I wasn’t any better–not really. True, we chose different life paths, but hell, I ran from relationships for decades and allowed myself to become identified by a public persona that admittedly, I got lost in. I remember being in my car in the parking lot of a Houston area mall several years ago and the Goo Goo Dolls song, “Name” was playing on the radio. Somber tune, but the lyric that got to me was when lead singer and hunk, Johnny Rezeznik warbled…
And don’t it make you sad to know that life is more than who you are
And cue call to therapist.
Aside from the inappropriate contraction, the sentence resonated with me. Still does.
You know, we can get so hung up on identity–who and what we are, and at the same time, we can also flounder because we’ve nary a clue as to who and what we really are. I know that sounds like I’m backtracking, but I’m not. I’m trying to make a point here. As women, we’re so much more than that which we’re preceived publically. We’re more than pretty faces; more than comedians, Wall Street CEO’s, bankers, teachers, PR execs, engineers, attorneys, bakers, authors, news types, doctors, nurses, accountants and certainly more than wives and mothers. Too much of anything is never a good thing. Mother’s need to paint and sometimes, painters need to don a maternal smock every once in a while.
I have an unyielding faith and belief in my sisters: the ones who can give me a kidney if need be and those who are my sisters in the spiritual sense. I do believe that if we can shed the shackles of childhood traumas, erase the continuous loop of Mommy tapes in our heads that kept telling us we’re not good enough–the people we replaced her with as adults; the threatened domineering ones in our lives who because of their own insecurities, hold us back . If we can break free of those impediments and if we can gain the self-esteem to trust our own judgement and abilities to make the right decisions–whatever those might be, there is nothing we can’t do. This, I sincerely believe.
Now, before I break into a chorus of Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman”, I have no shame in admitting that I have come to respect and appreciate the fully actualized woman than ever before…I just hope to one day meet her before I die.
As for the tumult in my own family? I can validate every emotion everyone is feeling. I completely get the self-righteous indignation; the blustery bravado, the rage-fueled statements that vehemently shout, “I never want anything to do with you ever again.” They don’t mean that or at least, some day they won’t. And because I understand this so well, I will allow each member the time it takes to process the pain and angst to the best of their age/maturity level, which unfortunately for my family, hovers generationally speaking, right around 13.
Wish us luck.