Written by Vicki Footman
When I found out The Matriarch was being published I knew I wanted to be a part of it. The founder, Margo, is someone I admire and who has been such a great mentor. As I sat down to write, doubt set in on whether or not I had the right voice for the magazine. Yes, I met the age requirement, but my lifestyle didn’t seem to match the lifestyles of my contemporaries. Based on my interactions with people in my age group, many are married, empty nesters, enjoying the rewards of their hard work, loving on their grandchildren, while counting down to the moment until they can retire. Many of the women I interact with seemed to be content in the role as wife and mother while actively serving their church and community. People don’t come to my town to turn up, they move here to raise families and settle down.
As noble as a settled life may be, my life is far from being settled. I am in the midst of questioning everything I thought I needed or wanted in order to feel successful and happy. It has nothing to do with my age, my marital status or the fact that I am a mother. Those things are important but they don’t define me. It has everything to do with me being a forward thinking human being who is excited about the shift from the Industrial Age to the Information Age.
According to a recent report published by the Institute for The Future, within the next 10 years, “the number of Americans over 60 will increase by 70%.” Many of my peers worry that social security will cease to exist by the time we become eligible to use it. Thanks to social platforms like Instagram, we find that a 50 year old women taste in fashion is very similar to that of a 28 year old. Medical advancement is extending the human lifespan. The media image of a woman in her mid to late 40s in the 70s is vastly different that today’s 45 year old woman.
We are on the cusp of a quantum shift in what it means to be old and aging in America. With information being a mouse click away, the youthification of women, is a phenomenon that won’t end any time soon. In fact, changes and evolution that have taken almost a half century to happen, will seem to take place overnight.
For me, being a Matriarch isn’t just about being the motherly head of my family. It’s more complicated than earning my title as an elder, because I’m older and have lived longer. It’s about feeling empowered to dismantle the socially constructed ideal of what it means to be a woman, who happens to be 49 years old. It’s about being disruptively innovative by refusing to “act my age” and choosing to do instead, those things that bring me joy. Being curious enough to examine every label that has been assigned to me to see if it fits, and being bold enough to disregard it if it doesn’t.
My voice fits because my story will resonate with any human who has at some point in their lifetime, had to be ok with uncertainty. Who took on the quest of reinventing themselves after a major life shift, be it divorce, being fired from a job, recovery from a major illness, children leaving home, death, trauma, etc.
I don’t profess to have it all together. I ride the fence between tradition, expectations and not giving a damn about those things. I’m striving to live my truth, using my voice to speak my truth, and be an advocate for others wanting to do the same. Because living any other way is oppressive. I am excited about the opportunities to learn and explore new ways of thinking. I think about the question, “Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?” The Matriarch is a platform for us to share our diverse experiences. It is in the spirit of sharing our experiences and expressions that we can remember.
Written by Vicki Footman
Vicki served in the U.S. Military is currently a guest blogger with thematriarch.me