Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The New Age Women

I had always thought of myself as a new age woman.  After all, I simultaneously juggled education, career and motherhood, believing that donning a Wonder Woman outfit on many days would have certainly been appropriate. I had grown up with a stay-at-home mother whose life appeared to me as a series of constant routine of cleaning, laundry and nightly meals. As a child, I remember that I was determined not to be regulated to such a fate. I would have my own money, make my own decisions and embrace both my freedom and my power. However, after much thought, I have come to a rather startling conclusion that I never really had any monopoly on being a new age woman. While it may be coined as “new age”, in retrospect, there is nothing really “new” about it at all. 

Recent reflection has made me realize that being a “new age” woman is the always the result of a historical and generational process as we continue to evolve as a gender. I have come to wisely realize that women for past generations could certainly be coined “new age” as they strove to improve their own lives from what they perceived as their own mother’s fate. It is a evolutionary process that spans the generations and continues to acknowledge a common cultural thread that runs through all women.
My mother was eight when women were constitutionally given the right to vote. Her generation lived through the Great Depression, World War II and prohibition. There was mass unemployment and widespread financial hardship. I would be hard pressed to argue that suffragists were not “new age” women in their time. As a child, I did not recognize that my mother was ahead of her time as she juggled family, house and community. She was on a constant path to improve her life and struggled with numerous cultural obstacles. My mother instilled in me a sense of purpose, the importance of education and the responsibilities of motherhood. As evolution would have it, I took the best from her and tried to improve on it, not only for myself but for my daughter.
It is a form of generational idealism that has naturally filtered down to our children. Their comfort with the globe, cultural differences and technology is unsurpassed.  We have broken tradition as we have turned our daughters into engineers and our sons into nurses. We have also expanded for them the core importance of self-happiness. Our continued idealism fuels our motivation to live our best lives as second careers and second marriages become common place.
As a woman, I am fortunate to bear daily witness to the evolution of our gender. In my law practice, more and more women seek my legal counsel as business owners and my advice in planning their estates to care for their families. My clients span multiple generations, but the theme is always the same; they strive to improve on what they have learned for the benefit of self and their families.
My daughter, who will turn thirty this fall, continues to be a source of pride and wonder for me. College educated, independent, and keenly aware of self, she has taken my life lessons, discarded what she did not need and has improved on what she kept. She is a new age woman as her mother and her grandmother were before her. While I have pondered whether it may be politically correct, I often and fondly think, she has become a much better version of me.

Mary-Anne Martell is Founder and Senior Counsel at Seacoast Law & Title, 1399 Bridgton Road, Westbrook, ME 04092. She welcomes questions and/or comments at or online at

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