Why Women Need Other Women

I remember when I was in high school saying, “Girls are awful. I don’t need girlfriends anyways. Guys are so much better.”

I was tired of the emotional warfare that girls, especially adolescent girls, are so good at. This statement stemmed from a place of hurt, a place of not knowing how to work through the drama surrounding my female friendships, of being attracted to the apparent ease of intimacy with men.

In many ways, men are far easier to have friendships with. They don’t typically have a lot of expectations for emotional commitment, they {usually} just say what they mean, they are great at easy compliments, the kind that are awesome when you need a quick-fix confidence booster.

But men have no idea what it’s like to be a woman. They don’t battle the massive attack on body image, the constant criticisms of every role we fill {wife, mother, employee, etc.}, the oversexualization of our persons and paradoxical expectations of purity, the deep desire to be at once nurtured & protected, as well as nurturing & independent.

When my friend Melissa published a feature about the kids and I on her blog, I was completely caught off guard by the sweet things she said. My initial reaction was disbelief: Superwoman? Me? Yeah right.

But as I read & reread her post, something changed in my heart. I couldn’t help smiling, a swelling sense of being seen coming over me. Melissa is one of the most joyful souls I’ve ever met, you can tell she has so much love in her heart, and it’s infectious. I knew, even if I wanted to deny it, that she really saw in me the things she wrote about. In this little article I suddenly saw myself differently.

I realized, we need other women to tell us we are strong.

We need other women to tell us we are capable.

We need other women to tell us we are beautiful.

We need other women to tell us we are worthy.

We need other women to cheer us on.

We need other women to acknowledge the struggles of motherhood.

We need other women to pray for us.

We need other women to laugh with, to cry with.

We need other women to remind us who we are.

We need other women because we will always be looking at other women to see where we measure up, we need those authentic friends to come along side us and say “I see you. I see your beauty. I believe your truth. You are right where you need to be, let me walk with you. Let’s have a cup of coffee and focus on who we are today, not who we should be or could be.”

We need other women because there is a unique & special ability we have to understand the common hurts we all experience and the incredible gift of being able to empower each other with the things we admire in each other.

In the last couple weeks, I’ve been overwhelmed by the love I’ve received, the vulnerability I’ve been able to share, & the empowering affirmations I’ve been given. As someone who spent years with absolutely no sense of self-worth, the healing that has started even in the midst of heartbreak has been God sent. The effort it takes to find women of authenticity is worth it. I’m thankful for each and every one of you who has come into my life & made it a better place.

xoxo, B

Dear Stay-At-Home-Mom (who didn’t choose this)

Dear mama,

I see you there, sitting on your couch with your head in your hands. Your toddler is screaming in her room, boycotting her nap for the third day in a row, and you’ve already gone in there five times, ten minutes each, to no avail. Isn’t that what the sleep doctor said to do? Or was it the sleep whisperer? You can’t even remember because your coffee has gone cold on the counter where you set it hours ago. You’re so tired. You’re so overwhelmed. All you can think is: god why? I didn’t choose this! Instantly you feel guilty. You know you should feel blessed – hundreds of women would trade you instantly, your husband sacrifices so much to provide, you live comfortably on his single salary, and you’ve been able to witness every milestone that bright, sticky, loud bundle of joy has met.

You’re ashamed for not loving this. You miss nylons and heels. You miss having a reason to do your hair and makeup in the morning. You miss fresh, hot coffee from Starbucks. You miss having something to show for your accomplishments. You miss the feeling of spending the money that you made instead of feeling guilty for getting lunch out with your joint account. You miss drives listening to NPR instead of Disney Pandora. You miss the relief of coming home after a long day and you can’t even remember what a weekend means.

People, planning, numbers, schedules – those things came easily to you. This, this monotonous, unpredictable, never-ending job, does not. Your house is always, always messy. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times you pick up or make plans to overhaul it, it reverts back to post-Katrina mode. You try to meal plan healthy, balanced meals, but 9/10 times you’re too tired to even chop a carrot by 1 pm, so you order pizza for dinner instead.

Why don’t you do it this way? Your mom asks.

Try this, a neighbor suggests.

It will come, your husband assures.

Maybe childcare was too expensive for your salary. Maybe you didn’t qualify for FMLA and your job didn’t provide maternity leave. Maybe the schedule was too erratic. Maybe you felt pressured to stay at home until your child was in school. Maybe you thought at first that you would love it.

Whatever the reason, here you are, on the verge of a breakdown, feeling inadequate as a mother, a wife, and as a woman.

I’ve been there too. I felt all of these things and I wondered over and over, why me? I love my daughter to pieces, but I was great at my job and I struggle every day as a fulltime homemaker. Many of the things that fall under that umbrella I do enjoy but I enjoyed them much more when they existed as hobbies rather than as a job description. It took me months of struggling with depression over my circumstances before I realized something had to change.

At this point in our lives, restarting my career was not an option, so I had to do some praying before I knew what changes I could realistically make to rework my thinking and to find joy in the daily. I don’t claim to have it all figured out, but I want to share a list of ten things that have changed my heart as a resentful stay-at-home-mom:

  1. It is necessary to step back from the mom role and remember who you are as a person. Pick back up a favorite hobby (for me: writing) or start a new one and dedicate at least one hour a day to accomplish it. I find that as I do the things I enjoy, I remember what I love about being a mom and start to feel like a whole person again.
  2. If you’re like me and enjoy making extra cash, start a shop on Etsy, list some old clothes on Poshmark, pull your college textbooks out of storage and list them on amazon. You might not get rich, but at least you can justify that quad peppermint white mocha!
  3. Remember that your child(ren) can help you. Instead of getting frustrated with my daughter for playing with the dishes in the dishwasher, I let her help me put the (safe) ones away. This makes the chores feel more like a game.
  4. Exercise! I cannot stress this one enough. Go for a walk or to the park and just chase your little one. The endorphins will help your energy levels and will boost your mood. There are also many home workout programs both free online and on DVD that can bring the gym to you.
  5. Eat well! This goes with exercise and it’s just as, if not more, important. What you put into your body is going to affect your entire wellbeing and it’s just not enough to survive off of three mugs of coffee, a banana, and that piece of chocolate cake. Take the time to prepare full servings of good food for yourself, even if it means putting your kiddo in front of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood for an hour.
  6. Go out all by yourself for something other than grocery shopping – I promise, your husband has it handled. Take a book and read at your favorite coffee shop, grab your iPod and go for a run, meet a girlfriend for dessert, go see a movie with your mom. Whatever it is, be present in that moment and trust that your child is in good hands. After all, you married the guy!
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m lucky enough to have my sister living with me and she is great about watching my daughter while I get something done or run a quick errand. Ask a friend from church, ask another mom, ask your aunt, and let them know what you need. They will be more than happy to support you.
  8. Take all advice with a grain of salt. Personally, this is a struggle, but allowing other people to comment on my life overtook my strength and caused me to doubt every decision I made. Be humble (if your house is a mess, no need to get defensive) but be honest about how much you can take. If you start to doubt your worth because of someone else’s opinion, let them know and then turn to the word. You are a beautiful work in progress!
  9. Memberships to places like the children’s museum are lifesavers. If you can’t afford the membership, ask for it as a gift, or look up free admission days and events. I know that our local museum has free admission mornings and our local zoo has free admission on father’s and mother’s days. This is a great way to go on an outing with your little where they can have safe, free play, and it can be a great opportunity to meet some other moms.
  10. This is the big one: you may not have chosen this, but god chose you for this. If you are walking with him and you are seeking his will in your life, you will not be alone and you will not be working in vain. Mommyhood is truly the costliest and yet most rewarding position to ever exist, and while being a stay-at-home-mom may be undervalued and looked down upon, while it may never feel as important or recognized as your career, remember to bloom where you are planted. Satisfaction is a mindset. These are days you will never get back, so make the best of them!

So, dear mama, you are not alone. You are not unseen. You are not worthless. You are not useless. You are doing such an amazing job and someday, your child(ren) will thank you for it. He may not say much or anything at all, but your husband does notice and he is thankful. I hope that you go forward encouraged!

With much love,

BC

xoxo, B