I was speaking with a group of moms recently and we were discussing how to find your voice as a woman. We decided that the only real way to find your voice is to say what you mean. It sounds so simple, but I’ve discovered many of us struggle with doing just that.
The particular discussion began as they normally do with parenting groups, around the talk about how emotions like frustration and resentment can develop between partners after a new baby arrives. Things your spouse did before the baby came, like not picking up after him or herself didn’t bother you and well, now it really does. As an outside observer, it’s easy enough to think a new parent should just tell their partner how they feel and yet, many of us don’t. Instead our voice gets stuck, it freezes up and the words won’t come out. It can’t be that simple, we think. Can we really just ask for what we want? Or more importantly what we need?
I’ve met many women in particular who struggle with finding their voice and saying what they mean to their partner, parents, in-laws, siblings and friends (note: I think both men and women struggle with this but women talk to each other about it more frequently). I know I am still working on fully finding my voice. Asking others for what you want and need can be scary. Will I appear selfish? You ask yourself. Incompetent? Too needy? We’ll modify what we really want to say: “I need a break” to something less direct “Any chance you want to take the baby with you while you run errands?”
But what I’ve learned in recent years is that when you ask for what you need you send a message that you respect yourself enough–even love yourself enough–to ask for what you need. Think about that statement for a moment. You love yourself enough. You respect yourself enough to ask for what you need. And when you respect yourself, others will too.
A woman in the group I was speaking to most recently really stood out to me. She was the first woman I encountered in a long time who had truly found her voice. She’d had it before her child arrived and I suspect had an even clearer, stronger voice since becoming a mom. She shared how she asked her husband for what she needed, when she needed it—telling him when she needed alone time, or asking him to take on some of the household chores because she needed help. It was inspiring to listen to her speak.
I will continue to work to find my voice and to be more direct and clear about what I need and why.
Have you found your voice?