This is a love letter and a request to all the mamas out there but the message will ring true for all women so even if you are not a mama, please read on.
What I want to say to every woman is this. You are not alone. We are the same. Different details, same challenges. Same fears. Same dreams.
When I pass mums on the street, there are generally four things that happen. The first one is, we look at each other and smile. The smile says “Hi fellow mum. Isn’t life grand?” And this is only if both of us are having a great mummy day. So, lovely but infrequent.
Secondly, there are two smiles and one at least, (me) is lying. The smile says “I’m smiling because I’m supposed to be so happy about being a mum and I don’t want you to see me not smiling because you are probably such an awesome mum that you totally love everything about it but really I want to shout my face off and run away.”
The third dynamic is when both of us are having a tough day and we pass each other in resigned silence. We both know it’s just one of those days where it’s all about making it out of the trenches by bedtime. Alive.
The fourth type of interaction is what I want to talk about today. The fourth one is when a mother passes me with an unspoken but tangible message that says “We are not alike. I am not like you. You are a MUM. And I am a woman with a baby. We are NOT the same. I am happier, sexier, more natural and generally better than you. We have nothing in common.”
And I want to run after her and shout “Do you think that I wear jogging pants all the time? Don’t you think that I still dream about dancing the night away in high heels? Don’t you know that I’m just a woman with a baby too?!”
(By this time, obviously, she is also running. Away from me.)
And when I’ve been this mum, the one who gives the attitude, what I’ve really been saying is “I can’t let you know what’s really going on so I have to pretend that everything is perfect and that I’m perfect because I just can’t let down my guard and show you what is really inside.”
Sigh. We all know how it can be so scary to tell the truth.
But if we are brave, we learn that after every truth comes freedom. That there is no freedom without truth.
So, we need to start telling the truth to each other more often. We need to think of ourselves as allies in this life, as supporters, as “lifter-uppers”, as people to lean on, as guides, as keepers of our secrets. As sisters.
As a community.
Women are still finding our legs when it comes to thinking of ourselves in community. Not as competitors. Enemies. We are still shaking off the lessons learned in high school (or wherever we started picking them up) which were more aligned with judging other girls, being bitchy, being mean and cruel and using put-downs and insults to feel better about ourselves. Even at that young age, we defended our sense of insecurity and fear, not by sharing it, but by turning around and creating it in other girls. (And by the way, if we still do this as women, how will our girls every learn that there is a better way?)
We are not in high school anymore. We can now choose to see other women as potential friends. As women with stories to share. Wisdom to impart. Arms that hug. To see them as a place to put down heavy burdens. Because we are all different but the same. We have common fears, anxieties, challenges, roadblocks. And similar dreams. Hopes. Yearnings. Desires. Longings.
So, to all the women out there, mums included, a request: let’s drop the attitude and open our hearts to all the women out there that we pass in the streets. Let’s smile and send a message of understanding, love and belonging. Because we are not alone.
(Psst, the big secret is that life is easier with more friends, not more enemies.)
In the comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you view the community of women and what you’ve experienced around this topic.