This morning at MOPS, our group heard ideas, answers, and advice from two of our Mentor Moms – women who have moved to the next stage of parenting (have adult children) and who can come to meetings to do any number of tasks which include listening, holding babies, and sharing their own wisdom from the Been There/Done That perspective. I’ve had the joy of being paired with women truly worthy of the title Mentor in the past and it was so good this morning to hear what they had to say about everything from how to handle tantrums to the Great Holiday Divide (totally a different subject/blog post, but wow. Good stuff and good discussion). But of everything that we talked about at this morning’s meeting, it was these three words said by a member of the Mentor panel that jumped up and grabbed my heart: women need women.
Have you ever heard anything more true? I don’t know that I have, with the exception of a longer version of the very same concept that a friend shared online a few months ago. There’s no way I can possibly paraphrase her and do her ideas justice, so I give to you the post itself:
“Ladies: Always surround yourself with women who let you be yourself. If you feel inferior around your people, they are not your people. If you dress differently, sit quit when you normally have something to say, feel bored, feel icky…You run like hell from these women. Although we are SUPPOSED to belong to each other, there are some who do not want you to belong. And my loves, it’s not you. It’s in their heart. Your women will tell you when you’re wrong, they will hear your cries, they will shake you awake, they will call you beautiful. If you cannot share your deepest secrets with your women, they are not your women. If they laugh at you when you get a crazy idea, they are not your women. If they let you run around acting like a complete wench, they are not your women. Your best friends will see every part of you. They will invest in you, and you invest in them. A friendship deserves honesty and rawness and hurt and laughter. If you cannot tell your friend she hurt you, she’s not your friend. If you pick up the phone and there’s nothing to talk about, hang up the phone. She’s not your woman. Our friendship to one another is important. Choose wisely. And when you get strong, you pull others in so they can belong, too.”
Isn’t that spot on the best thing ever for a woman to write/believe/do? I think so, and I shared it on Facebook right after I originally read it because, seriously people, at some point we deserve to leave middle school. There is no reason we have to remain stuck in the hormonal hell of young adolescence, constantly trying to win the love and affection of others. Wondering if they like us. If we are good enough. We are good enough. But we need each other and if we can’t be good to each other, we need to move on. That is the most simple and most pure way I can describe what it means to find your tribe, the women you need and who need you in return.
Two of my favorite writers, Glennon from Momastery and Patti Digh (of Life is a Verb fame), both write on this idea of tribes and what it means to have one. They both believe it is vital to have people in your life who can in fact, be your people. Your tribe might be members of your family or friends you have known forever, or maybe it is someone you just meet at the grocery store last week. Your tribe consists of those who know you, get you, and love you all the same. And sometimes it is really freaking hard to find these souls.
A few years ago, reading or having someone tell me I needed a tribe would have made me burst into tears. OK, it doesn’t take much to do that, but this would have been the ugly cry sort of tears because in early motherhood I felt isolated and withdrawn way more than I felt connected, seen, or heard. It doesn’t help that I am huge introvert (aren’t most people who love to write?) and the thought of forcing myself to be social in order to meet women who could be my BFFs was terrifying. I mean, no pressure, right?!
Slowly but surely, though, I have made progress in the whole leave-your-house/make-some-friends journey. This has meant I’ve had to both accept offers from others when given and extend invitations of my own to new people I meet or sometimes to old acquaintances I want to know better (and truth, all of the above can be out of my comfort zone). Over the last few years, I have met some interesting women. Some amazing. Some who came into my circle, my tribe, and stayed close. And some who came in for a time and then moved on, because let’s face it, once you get up the courage to put yourself out there to define your tribe, actually recognizing those who know, get, and love you all the same sometimes takes time. Being vulnerable and taking that time, though, are vital because women need women.
None of us were meant to go this road alone, whether we are SAHMs, working moms, pet parents, or “just” women (there is nothing “just” about being a woman or a person for that matter – it’s all pretty freaking challenging from what I can see). We need each other to listen, see, accept, support, love, nurture, challenge, and need us. I believe you can be the most independent and confident person in the world and you will still need a tribe of a few who can be and do these things for you because without connection, what is the point? For some people, this support might take the shape of a spouse or significant other. I have an amazing one of those and I tell you honestly, I still need a tribe. My husband knows me, gets me, and loves me all the same, but without friends who can do the same, my heart is not as full as it could be. This is why I continue to put myself out there, to make connections with other women as I make my way (sometimes striding, sometimes stumbling) through this world. It is the grace and love I can give to these women and that which I receive in return that makes the trying and trying again so very much worth it.
No woman alone. There are those out there who deserve a spot in your tribe. Those who know, get, and love you all the same.