“I have two Master’s degrees you know?” I playfully tell my oldest daughter as we talk about why I should be working. The conversation stems from a chance remark about how exhausted I feel and she quips that perhaps I should quit as I did once before.
“I probably will get another Masters after you girls are all gone to college,” I tell her, this time only half playfully.
She is gone, leaving in place a curious mix of pride and realization.
“I am phenomenal.”
The thought takes hold in my head. As a new parent, I was always looking for people, books, TV shows, stories that my children can take inspiration from. I even recently bought this book Girl Power that features women from all walks of life with beautiful illustrations to back their powerful lives.
It is only recently that I realized that my children do not have to look too far. They have me. A woman who is extraordinary in her ordinariness.
I am a woman in STEM.
I am a writer.
I am open about my vulnerabilities.
I enjoy making money and I am open about it with them.
I get angry and I say sorry.
I don’t hold back my anger at their dad if he does something that does not sit well with me.
I also apologize when I do something that is not right by any of them.
I do my taxes.
I plan my finances.
I budget and I have a plan for the future – with or without me.
I have hard conversations with my children.
I talk about death.
I talk about resilience.
I talk about courage.
I talk about respect both receiving and giving.
I talk about bullying.
I talk about love.
I talk about being vulnerable.
I share this openly and freely with not just the world but with the people who are my world. When I need a break, I take one. When I need a hug, I ask for one. When I am ashamed, I say so. When I am wrong, I take responsibility.
I am flawed. I am perfectly what my children need.
This Valentine’s Day, I am celebrating me. I am celebrating all the phenomenal women in my life. All the aunties that my children know who braved leaving an abusive marriage. The aunties that chose love in their 40s. The aunties who grapple with everyday fears and come out successful every single day. The aunties who stay single by choice. The aunties who start second careers after they retire. The aunties who become caregivers by choice. The aunties who are loud, the aunties who laugh a lot and live life queen size.
The role models are all around us. They are US.