Mother May I? …not anymore
True, we think most childhood games are simply just that, games – games that don’t really mean a lot. However, as many early childhood researchers know, the games children play are indeed their work, and very much inform our development.
Certainly, Mother May I is about the work of practicing manners. However, in many ways, this innocuous childhood game has informed our culture, and how many women conduct themselves when it comes to their personal and professional lives.
Now I am not going to pin the reason why women don’t advance as quickly as men entirely on a game played in elementary school. However, I simply want to say if you find yourself seeking permission to ask for a raise, promotion or permission to change careers, I give you permission to stop.
It is not so much that we need permission to do any of these things. Instead, ask how you might prepare to transition from one career to another. Ask what it would take to negotiate a promotion at work. Ask how to initiate the discussion for a salary increase. All of these questions focus on educating yourself to best achieve the goals you set and dreams you have.
There is no need to shortchange your dreams by waiting for someone to give you permission to pursue them. You only have one mother – well, maybe you have two – either way, you don’t need to look to them or anyone else to give you permission.
Be your own best mother. Ask how. Ask what. Learn how to navigate and negotiate the curve balls that will be thrown your way while on your course. And know that improvising is often the only way to deal with these.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – in fact, you can count making them. Then make a plan, and execute it. It is May – almost the halfway point in the year – a perfect time to review and reassess New Year’s goals and resolutions.
Know you are setting an example and precedent for every young girl and boy out there on the playground today. And maybe, just maybe, “Mother May I” will become a game of the past, a cultural relic much like hoop rolling. I can’t say I believe society would miss it – and we just might be better for it.