What Does it Mean to Be a Matriarch?
This is a concept that I have been thinking about a lot lately. It's been swarming around me for about a month or so now. That's my queue to dig a bit deeper. So...here we go.
I'm 45 years old and just had a big epiphany that I'm not the matriarch I want to be in my family. When I realized this, I began to really think about the matriarchs in my own life, past and present, or even friends that I observe as matriarchs in their own lives. It's kind of fascinating. Some were/are so strong in their power and direction when it comes to leading their families in all sorts of ways. Traditions, home life, gratitude, productivity, work life, level of presence and mindfulness with their family members and friends...every woman I know does it differently and it's so interesting to see those differences in play.
I didn't have super strong matriarchs growing up. In fact, I did most of my growing up on my own. I always thought I did a pretty good job, and though I did end up in the place I want to be, I now see the swerving, the offroad paths and listlessness of someone that was ungrounded, untethered and unrooted. I thought this was simply a product of my gypsy nature, but now I see it was because there was a lack of support and matriarchal direction that a gal needs when she's navigating her life. I had what I call "emergency love and support", which is a love that is constant and always there, with support being brought forth only when in need and asked for. I was also never really taught to ask for help, so that support was present very very sparingly. Let me be clear: I was loved, but unfortunately the women in my blood family were never really taught how to love and support, how to corral and lift up and even inspire other women close to them. Truthfully, when I think back on the matriarchs that directly affected my life, I see that they were just trying to survive their own lives. There simply was no energy left to worry about someone else's.
Today, I watch my daughter grow up and I worry. I realize now that I am the only strong matriarch in her present life and I wonder...will that be enough? Especially for an only. And so that is what began this trek down this rabbit hole you are reading right now.
I want to be strong for her. I want to instill a bold sense of strength within her. I want to be a role model that inspires her while reflecting her own image back to her so that she can see how much she inspires me. I need her to know her value, her purpose, her gifts, her heroism, her brilliance and most of all that she matters. She matters in this world and this world needs her, so so much. I want to instill a powerful sense of familial devotion and tradition, that no matter what happens in this life, your family is your rock and your tree of life. Stand proudly upon that rock while you feed and nurture the tree.
As I think of these things and hope for these things in my daughter's life, I realize how lonely I am in my own matriarch-less world. I never had a strong foundation of female support or presence and I often wonder what that would have been like and what differences, if any, that would have made in my life. It also makes me wonder if I have what it takes to be for Ella what I could not have myself. Maybe I missed out on that gene. I see how I have to work hard on being present for her. It doesn't come easy for me and though I'm committed to that work, my fear is that I will slack off, forget or get too busy and miss those opportunities to be more than just present. Those moments when you are so entangled in each other and so entwined that you become one, even just for a moment. When you exist that closely it's the most beautiful thing ever. My heart races in fear at the thought of ever missing out on any one of those moments.
I want to be a matriarch worth having that title. I want to live such a purposeful life that my actions instinctively inspire Ella to be a matriarch of her own making. I want her to have that gene I'm so worried I missed out on. I have some ideas on how to strengthen my position and I'm excited to go into it with eyes a lot more open than before.
To me, a matriarch is a leader in love and a light that shines on the path so that others can see where they're going. But she is also a model of vulnerability and failures that she has learned from so clearly that her lessons can be passed on to those that need them. She is the one we look to for strength and a safe place to fall. She is our everything.
I think I have quite the job cut out for me...