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How Beyoncé Changed My Life

I’m a mom. But before that, I’m a woman — a person who exists outside of her children and the role I play raising them. I don’t care how silly or ridiculous this may sound, but Beyoncé is one of the biggest influences on my life as a woman and parent.

Last year, Beyoncé released a brilliant album, an album that celebrated being a woman, being a mother and simply being a human. It was raw in the most beautiful way. She celebrated the love and the making of the love she shares with her husband. She shared about coming into her own and gave us a taste of how wonderful motherhood can be. Then, on the anniversary of her album — the one that changed my life in many ways — she released a mini-documentary titled "Yours + Mine." In this documentary, she touches on so many things that I myself know to be true as you grow older.

For instance, something I’ve been learning recently:

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“… I’m no longer afraid of conflict, & I don’t think conflict is a bad thing. Cause I know that, when you, grow up, when you learn a few things, you are no longer afraid of letting go. You’re no longer afraid of the unknown. You’re no longer afraid of going to certain places, in your body, and in your mind, and in your soul … That may make you feel uncomfortable. And it all starts if you can look yourself into the mirror and say 'I like that person' you know.”

I don’t believe that Beyoncé is perfect, of course not. No one is. But it's awe-inspiring to watch someone live her life out in a way that I’m experiencing. Even in 2014, I believe that there are still certain roles women are expected to fill. In our places of work, as parents, even in our friendships. When Beyoncé released her first album on her own, without the help of her father, I remember watching a video she put together talking about the process. She talked about how liberating it was, as a woman, to put something out on her own, from her heart and soul. I recall longing for that feeling of liberation, that freedom to be my complete self, without any fear. Like the above quote states, not having fear to go to certain places within myself, to embrace those. Love them, and set them free.

This was freedom in the best form. Not being tied down by expectations or perfection, but celebrating in who one is.

After the release of "4," I became a huge Beyoncé fan. I don’t think anyone who has a celebrity status has ever influenced my life. I began to challenge myself to be honest with who I was. I would look at myself in the mirror and tell the person looking back at me that I accepted her. Not that that was easy. In fact, it was hard. It was hard to see my post-baby body and be accepting of the stretch marks that were left behind. It was hard to look myself in the eye and not notice the bags that I acquired from late nights with my children. Yet, my desire to be true to myself trumped the other feelings I may have had for myself.

So I kept trying over and over.

Then Beyoncé had to go and take all of that to a whole new level. Last year's album was an ode to be a person. Not just a performer, or wife, or mother. But someone who had feelings, was comfortable and accepting to her identity and was happy with these discoveries. This was freedom in the best form. Not being tied down by expectations or perfection, but celebrating in who one is.

Maybe I’m the only mother who feels this way. For awhile, my identity was found in the fact that I was a mom. It was found in diapers and bottles, naptimes and meal-planning. If I ever tried to push back against this, or try to say I was something besides just a mom, people would shame me. They'd say being a “mother is the most wonderful role I would ever have.” I don’t disagree with that, but I was someone before my children, and I will be someone after they grow up. I have been — and always will be — me.

Even as a mother.

So thank you, Beyoncé, for helping open my eyes to the greatness of simply being yourself. This is a message that we need to be reminded of even as adults.

Everyday I try a bit harder to see myself as Margaret. As someone who has two children, with a co-parent, two businesses, friends and dreams. I am still my own person, and that is something that needs to be recognized and celebrated. I AM ME. And being me is perfect. I see myself. With every stretch mark, lack of sleep that shows on my face and imperfect messy hair, I see myself and accept it. I hear myself and will validate myself.

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So thank you, Beyoncé, for helping open my eyes to the greatness of simply being yourself. This is a message that we need to be reminded of even as adults. If we want our children to be comfortable with who they are, if we want them to love who they are, we need to be able to do that ourselves. We don’t need to limit ourselves, or attempt to fit into an idea that others set before us.

I want to live out what I tell my children. For their sake, and for mine.

Image by Kelly Sweda

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