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Being Upgraded to "Ma'am" - Embracing The Phases of Womanhood

Last week, I took my car in to get serviced because my brakes were squeaky and it had been a year since my last service. I've had the same car for 6 years, and I truly feel like it's been a marker of adulthood for me. I remember researching the best and safest cars, bought it myself, and it's currently about one paycheck away from being completely paid off. I never had a car in high school, and in college I drove the car that was passed down from my mother, to my brother, to me.

The process of getting my car serviced has always been one I enjoy. I go by myself, tell them what's wrong, take care of the bill, get a ride home, and before you know it, it's time to pick it up.

When I went to pick up my car last week, a young man walked me to my vehicle, opened the door for me, made sure I was completely inside and that my coat wasn't going to get caught in the door. He was incredibly helpful, polite and his attention to care went beyond being a good employee. He was a downright gentleman.

I said, "Thank you so much" to him as he went to shut the door to my car. And he responded, "You're welcome, ma'am."


My initial reaction to this was to be offended.

"Ma'am?! Ma'am!? How old did he think I was?!"

I even called my mom in a tizzy and she quickly served me up a slice of humble pie as she always does.

"He was just being polite. Don't be one of these women who's so easily offended at being called ma'am. It's respectful and good on him for saying it,"she said.

It was then that I realized I was slowly turning into what I always promised I wouldn't become - a woman who was ashamed of her age.

I remember being 25, thinking 30 was so far away - and so old.

30. That's that much closer to 40. And 50. And 60.

I remember not really knowing how to feel on my 30th birthday because it didn't really feel any different than 29.

But as I inch closer to 31, the little voice of age insecurity has begun to creep in without me even realizing it.

I remember being a young girl, and not understanding at all why someone would lie about their age. My sister in law and I joke about how moms always bring up how skinny they were on their wedding day and how they looked so much better 20 years ago.

Our society is constantly encouraging women to live in the past. To reminisce on years that are long gone. To reach backwards for a beauty, a youthfulness, and a joy that we (apparently) aren't granted in the present.

But I think it's time we challenge that idea - and choose to love and embrace aging, the different phases of womanhood, and everything that comes along with it. Including being called ma'am.

The Phases of Womanhood

The truth is that womanhood happens in a variety of phases. We start out as young girls, running around with scabby knees and knotted hair. Then morphing into moody, uncomfortable teenage girls. Experiencing acne, hormones, and maybe even a first love.

Then comes young adulthood, an era of being old enough to finally make your own decisions, live outside of your parent's house, study, learn, and grow into your own as an adult. For many of us, the next phase is marriage and children. A time in our lives where we settle down into domesticity - embrace it even. And focus our energies and attention on our families, while trying to balance maintaining our own identity. Or perhaps you skip that phase and choose to live your life as a single woman who travels the world collecting men and experiences.

We grow from girl, to teen, to young woman, to adult woman, to middle aged woman, to woman in the prime of her life, to elderly woman.

And if we're lucky, we'll get to experience every phase.

Each phase of womanhood offers something beautiful and magical, that no matter how hard we try, we can never replicate or pause time to go back and experience.

We will never be 21 again dancing at the club into the wee hours of the morning. We'll never be 10 again, getting dropped off at a soccer game on a hot Summer day. We'll never be 45 again, in the thick of married life and parenting, seeing our own children grow into little adults themselves.

Each phase offers us lessons, moments, and memories that we will cherish forever.

Which is why it is so important to embrace the phase that you're in right now.

If you're currently in college, embrace the feeling of what's unknown. Embrace the feelings of stress around finals, or excitement about a new class you're taking. There will come a day when you wish the only thing you had to worry about is getting the right answers on a test.

If you're currently a new mother, embrace the sleepless nights, the baby cuddles, and the excitement of a new family member. There will likely come a day when you look back on this time with fondness.

If you're a newlywed, embrace the adjustment period, the newlywed bliss, and the promise of forever with someone you love.

By embracing and romanticizing each phase of womanhood, we actively fight back against the narrative that one phase is better than the other. Or one version of us as women holds more value than another.

How to Romanticize Your Current Phase

I can't speak much on romanticizing phases of womanhood like motherhood or empty-nesting because I haven't experienced those phases yet. But I do believe that there are ways to romanticize each phase of our womanhood, which allows us to have more gratitude and see more of the beauty in where we are.

As a newlywed, I romanticize this phase of my life by leaning into my role as a wife. I love finding new recipes to try out for dinner, going on fun trips with my husband, and finding new ways to experience life together.

I also recognize that "wife" is not my only title. I still have hobbies, goals, dreams, and aspects to my personality that have nothing to do with my marriage.

Romanticizing my current phase of womanhood means actively seeking out the things I love to do and learning how to do new things as well. Starting an apprenticeship with a florist to enhance my flower arranging skills, spending quality time with my friends and my mom, reading new books, going to concerts and live events, and continuing to build my identity capital as a woman in her 30s.

Romanticizing your current phase of womanhood means accepting where you are, focusing on the present, and doing things to enhance the life you're currently living.

My sister-in-law who is a new mom, showcases this to me beautifully. She romanticizes life for herself, and for her new baby, by buying her the cutest outfits to wear, switching out the books on her nightstand to match the seasons and holidays, and scheduling family photos for every milestone. She takes her baby on walks to the park, and takes hundreds of pictures to send to the family group chat every day.

Is this phase of her life probably really hard and a huge adjustment? Yes. But instead of pining over a time when she could go out whenever she wanted or spend a weekend away at a music festival, she has fully embraced motherhood - and it's been so beautiful to see her transition into this role.

To live in the past, is to never fully enjoy your present. And to long for the version of yourself from 10 years ago, is to never love the version of who you are today.

As we learn to embrace each phase of womanhood with grace and elegance, maybe we won't feel the need to talk about how skinny we were when we were 20 or how much thicker and longer our hair was, and how much plumper our cheeks were.

Maybe we'll find the beauty in in aging, in growing, in being called "ma'am".

The Dreaded "Ma'am" Title

As I said, I wasn't thrilled to be called ma'am. While yes, it was respectful, it was also a reminder of the fact that when I walk out the door with my wedding ring on and my bob haircut, I'm not exactly giving Gen Z.

But now, I'm starting to look at the title as less of an insult or commentary on my youthful appearance, and more as a sign of respect.

As we step into adulthood, the challenges of life start to shape us. "Ma'am" becomes a term of respect that acknowledges our maturity and ability to handle life's complexities with grace. Being called "Ma'am", means I've made it past some of the hard parts of life. I've made it past the awkward teen phase and the unsure college kid phase. I've made it to the this phase - the "ma'am" phase.

Embracing this phase means honing our skills, pursuing our passions, and making decisions that align with our values. It's about embracing the journey of self-discovery and personal growth while navigating the intricacies of relationships and career paths.

As time passes, our experiences accumulate, giving us a wealth of wisdom and insight.

Being addressed as "Ma'am" at this stage carries a deep sense of respect for the knowledge and resilience we've gained along the way. We are becoming our family's history. We are becoming our descendants' lineage. And that is something to welcome and be excited about!

We have a wisdom to impart to the next generation because of the "Ma'am" title, not in spite of it.

As we grow and continue to learn, we move closer to becoming the elders. The people who have somehow made it through this crazy thing called life, and who have the stories to tell.


Every phase of womanhood is a gift - offering us lessons, memories, and moments that we will cherish for our entire lifetime. But we won't be able to truly look back and say we did it, if we set up camp in 2010 or 1995.

As time passes, as we age, we transition from phase to phase, bringing with us the lessons and wisdom from each phase to the next. So that when it's all said and done, we'll smile when someone looks at us and says, "Thank you ma'am."

2 comentarios

Love you Felicia🤗. You ate this blog. I still have chills and gained deep insight!

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As a 22-year old myself, I resonated with this so much. As much as I know I'm really young and there's still a lot for me to explore & decide on, in this world of social media, its easy to think you're falling behind, whether in terms of success, career, love or anything else. So, it was nice to read such a different & enlightening take on our own personal POVs on femininity.

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Just a California girl who believes in a good cup of tea, a fresh bouquet of peonies, page turning novels & romanticizing everyday life.

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