Week Thirty-nine: Kathy Benson

Kathy Benson - Week 39 - Photo

How did you learn what it meant to be a man/woman?

One of the things that I love about The Today Voice and likewise our editor/prompt writer/muse Peter Combs is how this experience challenges me to explore topics and questions that I might not otherwise write about.  Some weeks I can’t wait to tackle the prompt. This week I put it off as long as possible, because I didn’t know what to make of it.

How did I learn what it meant to be a woman?

What does that mean?

There certainly wasn’t a key moment or pivotal experience when all of a sudden I realized, “I AM A WOMAN!”

So I guess I would say, like so many other things in life, learning what it meant to be a woman was a process for me.

I credit my mother (pictured above with me last Christmas), grandmothers, aunts, teachers, coaches and other special women, who have been wonderful role models, for teaching me how to be strong, confident, caring, resourceful, patient and loving women.

There are a few specific things that stick out in my memory in regards to what it means to be a woman. One relates to something that my mother wanted to teach to and be very clear about with my sister and I when we were preparing to go away to college. She wanted to impart on us the importance of getting our college degrees and a finding a career that we loved; but which we also knew we could support ourselves with.

Our mother wanted the best for us and didn’t want our futures to be dependent on finding a man to marry and provide for us. We had loved ones in our life who never finished college, married young and then many years later found out their husbands had been cheating on them, got divorces and didn’t have vocations they were trained for, other than motherhood, which they could fall back on when they needed to get a job.

Mom was so successful at making her point, that when my now husband of 12 ½ years suggested early on in our relationship (long before we got married) that I might someday be a stay at home mom (SAHM), I got defensive. I didn’t want him to pigeonhole me/my future in that way. I had the utmost respect my mother and so many others who had been SAHMs for some or all of their children’s formative years. But as I have shared about here before, it took me some time to come around to wanting to be a SAHM. Which I have now primarily been for the past 9 ½ years.

Part of my process, learning embrace the idea of being a SAHM, included me realizing that just because the husbands of some of my loved ones had cheated on and left them for other women did not mean that would happen with my husband. He kept emphasizing that I could and should trust him. I understood that, but still struggled to believe that it wouldn’t happen to me. Seeing the movie Fatal Attraction didn’t help my perspective on all of this either.

So I worked hard to graduate with Bachelors and Masters degrees, knowing that if and when something unexpected were to happen later in life and I needed to get a job, I would be qualified and prepared to do so. With all of that said and done, I was able to make part of what it means to be a woman for me about my role in our family as a wife and mother. All the while I have still kept up with my hobbies and personal interests, which have evolved over the years, along with my ideas about how life can and should be, especially as a woman, wife and mother.

Finally, another important thing that both of our parents taught my sister and I effectively was that in our home, men and women didn’t necessarily have traditionally defined roles. Yes, for many years our dad worked in the professional world, being the main breadwinner, and our mom stayed at home caring for us. But when it came to cooking, cleaning and child rearing, overall all our parents did a great job modeling how men and women can (and they believed should) work together to make a house a home and our family a circle of love that everyone has an important role in, that is not specifically gendered defined.

I am proud to say that our children are being raised in a home that also does not emphasize gender defined roles, though my husband does work in the professional world full time and I am primarily a SAHM. Rather, we focus on how we can all use our gifts and talents to help our family be the best we can be.

How did you learn what it meant to be a man/woman?


Kathy Benson is a bereaved and blessed mom, writer and group fitness instructor trying to live mindfully and find joy in the journey after dealing with secondary infertility and loss for five years. She lives in Chicago, Illinois with her husband and two living children.

Kathy blogs at Bereaved and Blessed. You can also follow Kathy on Twitter @BereavedBlessed and her Facebook page.



One thought on “Week Thirty-nine: Kathy Benson

  1. Pingback: Spring Shed: Week Two

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