June 2018 will now be in women’s history as the month Saudi Arabian women gained the freedom and right to drive themselves! I know, for us American women, it’s hard to imagine a society where the option to drive ourselves somewhere is off the table. Women have fought and won so many rights; voting, reproductive, and employment to name a few and won.
I distinctly remember after having my second child; I wanted a tubal ligation, a method of permanent sterilization for women, involving the surgical sealing of the fallopian tubes to prevent the ovum from passing from the ovary to the uterus. Because I was still child-bearing age, my doctor refused to do the procedure immediately after giving birth. ‘No problem,’ I thought. I would merely schedule an appointment to have it done after my six-week post-pregnancy follow-up.
Eight weeks later, I called to schedule my procedure, and again my doctor refused. The incident was seventeen years ago, but I recall his statement went something like, ‘Look you’re still young. You may want to have more children in a few years. If you still feel the same way in 3-5 years, I will perform the tubal ligation’. My response, “huh?”
Armed with excellent health care and a thick book; I know archaic (yes an actual book that I held in my hands the size of a local telephone book), of health care providers from which to choose. I took the day off from work to start calling around to see which doctor would agree to do the surgery. I called about ten doctors, and I was getting more and more angry with each number I dialed. Not only was I told that I was too young but some of the physicians had the mitigated gall to ask if I had the consent of my husband.
Consent? It was the late 1990’s. I was a thirty-year-old professional woman that made significant decisions in the public sector. Consent? As I type this, I’m shaking my head because my experience mirrors that of my Saudi Sisters in the fight for women’s equality and human rights. It wasn’t until I reached a woman obstetrics/gynecologist that I was green-lighted for the surgery.
I was in proverbial tears as I made my appointment. I felt as though I had won a long fought battle to decide my reproductive health. In honor of my success, I requested my mother and Aunt take me to my appointment. These two nearly sixty-year-old women had no clue they were standing in solidarity with me for the right to choose. It wasn’t until after everything was over I shared with them my journey. They smiled, nodded, and shed a few silent tears. Nothing else needed to be said.
Today I am blessed to be the mother of three children. I know. I know. Yes, I had the tubal ligation after my second biological child. However, at nearly fifty I remarried a great man that came with my bonus, my third child. I brought her right into the fold. She inherited a sister that is two-years and a brother six-year her junior.
I’m grateful to be able to see my millennial daughters powerfully interdependent. They are the fruits of hard-fought and won rights and freedoms. That leads me to celebrate my bonus daughters thirtieth birthday. I sit in the seat of my mother and Aunt, standing in solidarity with her and other 30-somethings. In place of shedding silent tears, I share five secrets to success I wished I had known at thirty years old.
- Self-Care is Humanitarian – Historically as women, we put ourselves last or at the bottom of our ‘list of things to do’. Stop it. No, right now. Put yourself first. It is humanitarian to bring your best self to everything you do. Your best self-requires respect, rest, rejuvenation, and revitalization. Take the time to do all of that regularly. You will notice the difference in your end product be it employment, motherhood, business, and life in general.
- Faith Dominates Fear – It’s normal to be fearful and afraid. Have faith that if the idea or opportunity presented itself, you’ve got what it takes! You not only can do it but you will. Have faith in yourself and your capabilities.
- The Choice Is Yours – You get to decide. You always have more than one option. Go back to #1 and #2 and determine what serves you best.
- This too shall pass – Mistakes happen. Life happens. Every day will not be sunshine and tiptoe through the tulips. C’est la vie; such is life. Just keep on living and remember nothing last forever. The situation, problem, consequence, etc. shall pass.
- Enjoy the Journey – Wake up daily. Wipe the sleep from your eyes. Wash your face. Brush your teeth. Shower and get dressed. Square your shoulders and walk tall. Breathe fully. Laugh often. Cry when necessary. Call a friend. Read a book. Listen to great music and each tasty meals. Bottom line enjoy yourself; daily.
Happy birthday from fifty to thirty!
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