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  • Rachel Allen Dillon

The Ever-Changing Roles of Women

A monarch butterfly with wings open sitting on a purple flower surrounded by green plants
The transforming butterfly.

Women are constantly changing and evolving, and frequently it's unnerving. As growing girls, we had to adjust to a monthly cycle, always carrying just-in-case supplies should IT sneak up on us. Sometimes, when I was young, changes were welcome; they were a right of passage to show me I was moving forward. I remember wanting my boobs to be bigger because, for some reason, I associated that with becoming more interesting to boys.

Finding the boy and settling down was locked to a calculated and traditional timeline for me: college, marriage, job growth, and kids. Most women I knew from my generation, Gen X, didn't question changing their last name when they got married. I became a wife, a new title. And that meant getting a new social security card. A new identity.

And as a career woman, I looked for bigger and better titles. My career path shifted with me as I explored new roles until my most important job came to be -- Mom. I'd never experienced such love and joy. I happily embraced this change to my identity and new title. And oh, did changes come fast with kids -- it was as if time blurred. Just when I thought I had things figured out, I was scrambling to determine what to do next. In the blink of an eye, my kids went from depending on me to making sure I knew they could do things on their own. The pandemic caused us to think in bubbles, and time stood still for a while. Then, in a flash, I became an empty-nester, yet another new title.

I'm now at a stage in life where instead of feeling like I have endless time to try different jobs on for size, look at moving as an adventure, and plan future trips abroad, I consider myself a waning moon. I consider change with more trepidation. My job is tied to finances and my ability to travel and spend time with my kids. My choices affect when I can retire and how comfortably.

On top of it all, my body reminds me I'm moving forward. Instead, now I don't want my boobs to keep growing because my waistline wants to follow. I used to be able to eat anything and not gain any weight - yes, I was one of those annoying people. Now, perimenopause is another defining title to add to my long list. My clothes feel different; in fact, I've had to buy a new wardrobe, including replacing all of my underwear with more comfortable ones. It's expensive to change.

Going through changes can be pretty exhausting and overwhelming. Sometimes, I just wish I could relax and sail on calm and predictable waters, but then again, that would get pretty boring and dull fast. However, changes can also be pretty exciting as they give me a chance to understand myself better since I've always been proud of being a curious soul. I wonder where my journey takes me next and what new things I'll discover about myself.

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