Beyond Our Roles

The good wife, the good mother, I seem to keep falling into these roles, this established mode of how I defined myself for much of my life. During my process of working the medicine wheel, I released all the roles I was assuming at that time. Teacher, mother, sister, friend, therapist, daughter, they all needed to go. And as I unraveled my binds to those roles, I more deeply understood my true self, without all those trappings and wrappings. Instead I more readily knew myself as one who loves beauty, who wants a strong family life, who strives to always learn and understand, who listens intently for all meaning that arises as another speaks and shares with me. I understood the authentic “me” beyond those roles that were shaped by the dictates of the life handed down to me by generations of women that came before and by a society that is often driven by economics rather than ethics. I could more carefully choose how I wanted to express “me” through those roles, rather than defining myself by them. Stepping out of the roles we play out in our day-to-day life doesn’t mean that we no longer care for family, go to work, or enjoy time with friends. Rather the shift is about coming to understand that we are more, much more, than these activities and ways we engage. What we do with our roles can be a wonderful expression of our deeper inner worlds, a chance to say this is how I mother, this is how I want to be your wife, this is how I grow to be your friend. The conscious creation of “us” through these parts we play, interacting with one another in our lives, means we carefully consider what we do and with whom we are spending our precious time. Becoming aware that we indeed play roles in the drama of our lives, we more easily remember that we can alter the part we are playing, shift to a new movie theme that better suits us, the persons we really want to be.

Remember that how we do something is the true essence of the role, not the outwardly imposed definition of the role itself. The expression of mother today looks quite different from how it did many generations ago. Many mothers work inside and outside the home, creating an income along with tending to family. This was not the norm until the most recent generations. But the true essence of mothering comes from how we love our children, how we care and watch out for them, the consideration and concern for their welfare and then the ways we put those expressions of love and care into action. These unique expressions reflect each of our inner lights as we engage in our roles conscientiously.

Today I am aware that I once again feel pulled to prioritize my life so that I fulfill what I consider to be the role of good wife and good mother. Sometimes, if I am doing this less consciously, I may slip into old ways of thinking and behaving, functioning on autopilot. With this lessening of awareness, I can feel edgy and a tinge of resentment can creep up. When this happens I know that I am unconsciously going through the motions, and have lost myself in my roles. In remedying this, I review my choices in how I am spending my time, and how my old definitions can still come up as I play out my roles. Last week when I became aware of what I was feeling, just being the good wife and mother, I remembered that I do not have to be these roles. Instead I paint the picture of these roles in what I bring to the part, moment-to-moment. I can be the creating mother, the messy wife, and the selfish sister, if that’s what it means in order to fulfill my creative urges and spiritual needs for a time.

Stepping outside the usual way we play our roles means redefining them to suit the true and authentic “us” that needs expression and fulfillment. Our job is to get to the business of figuring out what that means. We must experiment, cast off the old roles and the ways we are used to performing them. Let’s walk outside the box, feeling free, sometimes scared, but ultimately freed from self-imposed and unconscious binds. We are co-creators in the world and in the drama of our lives.