Power equals Autonomy

I’ve said before, how much I like my Pocket. At the moment I have three separate emails in my inbox because I won’t delete them until I’ve read the story or stories that catch my eye. On this pleasant Easter Sunday afternoon, I propped myself on a stack of pillows in my bed for some leisurely reading. As I scrolled down the list of headline in the first Pocket email, this jumped out at me, People Want Power Because They Want Autonomy. It is a fascinating article about a study of why people want more power in their workplace. It got me thinking.

The other day I was emailing a friend and we spoke briefly about building escape routes. Using my 20/20 hindsight, I sighed, “Escape routes are important.”. Today as I read this article, I realized that it isn’t an escape route I’m wanting, it’s autonomy.

Through a series of decisions made over the past twenty-plus years, I’ve given away my autonomy a piece at a time. I’ve traded it for feelings, for acceptance, to make others happy or comfortable, for sex, for my children and because I believed it was the right thing to do. Let me be very clear here, it was all my choice.

Truly, I never gave my own autonomy a second thought, until I realized I had none. I had nothing of my own left. Yes, I run a household and my kids think I have the power,if they only knew.

I made the choice to stay home when my first child was born. I gave up a lucrative job in a burgeoning branch of corporate travel, one that has gone on to become vital in many global corporations. It was a job I greatly enjoyed, but I adored my son and in my culture at the time, I received heaps of positive reinforcement for my decision. In the intervening years I’ve done good by my kids; I love my kids. Imagine my surprise, when I discovered a few years ago that I, a loving, giving, kind person, despised myself.

Not me, but boy do I recognize the look on her face.

My kids aren’t babies anymore, they range in age from 9-16. They need something different from me now. They no longer need me to be in the house, to sit on the couch and give them bottles, to teach them to walk, to talk, to not be afraid of raindrops and thunder. Now they need me to keep up, to be around when needed, to chauffeur, to listen, to buy them stuff and model for them what successful adulthood looks like.

It’s that last part that gets me. I have two daughters. One beautiful boy and two young impressionable daughters. I don’t worry so much about the boy. My kids have a hard-working dad, one who takes seriously his responsibility to them, is straight as an arrow and strives to be an example of temperate living.  The boy will be fine.

The girls, they have a great example in their dad, but what about my example? What am I teaching my girls about living a full life? Those of you who know me, won’t be surprised to hear the name of Richard Armitage here. You might be giggling, that’s okay. He helped me understand that the joy is having something to share, something of yourself to share. I believe my girls need to see me filled with joy and having so much to share. Not joy that comes from them; joy that comes from me. I am a separate being from them, a whole other person with thoughts and hopes they have not imagined. I want them to see me, to know me. Not just as mom, not just as a facilitator to their dreams, but as a woman they are lucky to know and associate with every day.

My mom died eighteen months ago. This April 4th would have been her 78th birthday. When she died, she was only my mother. I didn’t realize the great disservice it was until my siblings and I found that so much of what we have left are unanswered questions. Who was this beautiful woman?


I will make many more mistakes in my life. Some will affect my children directly. In the dark of the night I worry they won’t like me as a person. But in the end, it’s my life, and that’s what I want for them to see. It’s their life and it should matter to them most of all.

0 thoughts on “Power equals Autonomy”

  1. You’re a beautiful person. It’s not all that matters in this world, but for the people that you touch with your words, your kindness, authenticity and hopefully yourself, too, you’re a beautiful person, inside and out.

    1. Thanks MM! It really is my hope that my kids grow to recognize that in their parents and in themselves. I believe that transfers into being able to recognize and find it in an increasingly conflicted world.

  2. I would argue you can go too far and build your entire life as an escape route (cough). But I think that autonomy for girls is really important. Worth taking risks.

    1. Yes, the other extreme could be problematic, I agree (wink). My autonomy issues come from my patriarchal upbringing and it’s supposition that the world will never change. I don’t like feeling helpless and, if I have my way, my daughters will be armed and not easily cornered.

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