Be YOU When Family Pressures to Be Someone Else


Have you ever felt like you will never measure up no matter what you choose or who you become? I have, many times, but one particular conversation still sticks with me because it was the moment I realized only I define me.

When I graduated with my Masters of Divinity, I had no regrets and I was no longer interested in being a pastor. I began searching for jobs that would support me and interest me. I kept turning up nothing. Either the job was interesting and paid too little to live on or it paid decent and would bore me before I even began. Frustrated, I explained what I was facing to my then current employer and she asked, "Have you ever thought about being a nanny/house manager as a career? At least for now?" I had not, and it was the first time I felt excitement about a possibility.

I went through an agency and I am still with the family 13 years later.

Let's back up to that decision 13 years ago. I interviewed with several families, and after I left the interview with this family, I knew I belonged with them and they knew it too. Everything clicked from our comfort level to the terms of the contract to my desire to be paid well doing something I was interested in. In fact, I was more than interested as I really do love the fulfilling challenge of raising the next generation and enjoying all the priceless moments along the way.

I called my mom with the good news and she was silent on the other end of the line. I asked her what she was thinking, not prepared for her response. She said, "This seems too small for you."

I was blown away. Too small? Caring for children is too small? And here is the kicker, all my life my parents had told me my gifts of leadership and teaching were too big because I am a woman. In fact, it was understood a woman's place is in the home. So, upon accepting a job fit for a woman (my parents' values, not mine!), I am told I am living too small. Exasperating to say the least!

What was going on here?

To this day, I can't say for certain. My guess is my mom had dreams and set them aside to raise me and my brother, staying home for the most part, and she dreamt more for me. Secretly she may have hoped I would rise above what I had been taught to understand about a woman's place and role.

Her words haunted me for several years until I put the oldest child on the bus for kindergarten and he cried every day for 3 weeks and I turned away so he wouldn't see my tears every day for 3 weeks.

This is the most rewarding choice I have ever made and it feels HUGE, definitely not "too small". I was given a place in two boys' lives that requires me to be a better person, that makes me want to be the best version of myself. I knew then and I continue to know in my heart I made the only choice. We were meant to be this unique family from the start. The Universe brought us together and if I had turned down the gift the Universe was offering me in favor of my mom's approval, where would all 5 of us be now? I don't think we want to know. And, there is no way of knowing that if I had chosen something "bigger" in my mom's eyes, would she be pleased?

When family pressures us, they mean well, most of the time. In fact, even if they are transferring their own baggage onto us, they still think they are doing what's best for us.

In those moments, thank your family for their insight and perspective and listen to your heart. If you do what your family asks of you or pressures you to do, will you be aligned with your inner knowing or will you be working against yourself? Be true to yourself and leave your family to figure out how to adjust. In the end, we only have control over our own choices and emotions. It is a waste of energy to dance and twist ourselves into knots in an attempt to soothe or please another.

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