The past month has been exhilarating and empowering. Yesterday, millions of women, men and girls marchedin protest (an estimated half million at the March on Washington and 4,797,500 at sister marches) of the trials and tribulations faced by the so-called fairer sex. Meanwhile, I launched a webzine for women with my dear friend Ginanne Brownell Mitic (a London-based international journalist who writes for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and other publications).
The webzine, she-files.com, is part of our mission to shed light on issues faced by women globally as well as to profile inspiring women from all walks of life, big and small. The articles are written by women and for women, and our tagline is “women, stories, no glass ceilings.” We believe that stories have the power to instigate change in the world and that positivity begets positivity.
If you are a woman and have a story that needs to be told, check out our Contact Us page on how to submit. And please help us in our mission to empower all women by spreading knowledge and positivity!
I’ve been noticing stories about women lately knocking other women down in overt and covert ways. And I can’t help wondering, WTF. Isn’t it hard enough being a woman without getting clobbered by the sisters who should be lifting you up? Ladies, don’t we have enough on our plates already?
The stories have always been there; I know that. But they seem louder lately: a cacophony buzzing relentlessly in the background like audio feedback. Or, worse, like the theme song to a horror film turned down low enough that you can just hear it and feel the anxiety it’s supposed to produce.
The buzz I’m hearing is nothing like the warm, nurturing song of the cicadasI grew up with in the South; their songs rise and fall predictably, lull you into a happy state of nature-filled nostalgia. There is nothing happy or soothing about the buzz I’ve been noticing lately and it’s impossible to ignore.
Around the neighborhood, I hear stories. At work, I hear stories. I read stories in the news. I see it on social media. I see it at the f’ing grocery store. What it comes down to is this–we judge each other. We critique and criticize, sometimes out loud and sometimes only in our heads. But we all do it. I’m guilty of it in ways I’m sure I don’t even see.
Last year, when my youngest started school full time, I decided to rediscover my passions, find a part-time job, in a nutshell, put myself out there. And I’ve learned something that is so important I gotta share it. I have learned to have more empathy for women. Yes, even the twenty-three-year-old who interviewed me and asked if I was comfortable working with twenty-year-olds, cause, ya know, I’m so old.
Let’s face it, being a woman is hard. Beautiful, but hard.
So, you might catch me gossiping from time to time (working on that one). But I can’t say it enough. Let’s support the mamas (read: all women). Yep, all of them, in whatever endeavors they choose, wherever they are in life. All of them. Every day. Raise ’em up. Think about it. Just sayin’.
Something has been needling my conscious for the past few weeks. I can’t pinpoint what, exactly, brought it to the surface, but I ‘m glad it came to light, and I need to get it off my chest.
I try hard to support other women. I go to female doctors. I support companies run by women. When a female friend or acquaintance starts a new venture, I go out of my way to support her, because life can be hard and women are, let’s face it, the underappreciated sex.
That brings me to what’s eating me up. When my kids were babies and toddlers, I struggled to keep the daily routine together, forget about finding the time and energy to make friends. Despite my sweatpant-clad, hair-in-a messy-ponytail facade, another mama at pre-school felt compassion and reached out to me; I grabbed on.
She was my lifeline so many times during those crazy, sleepless, joyful, exhausting years. When my son’s preschool teacher told me that he was not like other kids, and that, in her words, he’s, well, so smart, and, you know, gifted kids sometimes have other challenges, my preschool-mama friend was the first person I called. My husband couldn’t understand the anguish those words made me feel. But my preschool-mama friend did.
Over the past few years, I’ve lost touch with her, and I miss her friendship–a lot. I have other mom-friends now, and we get together, drink wine, alternately complain and brag about our kids, and I treasure each of them. But they weren’t in the trenches with me like she was.
Reflecting on why we’re not friends anymore made me realize that I’m not as supportive of the women in my life as I think I am. I judge, even when I try not to, I gossip when I shouldn’t, and I suck at reaching out to other women, letting them know how amazing they are.
If I’m honest with myself, I can see that she was a better friend to me than I was to her. That’s not an easy thing to think. However, I’m convinced it will help me work on being more supportive.
I’m not going to beat myself up–what good does that do? Instead, I’m going to learn something and try to walk the talk when it comes to supporting other mamas.
As I dig deeper, determining which direction to go, one thing really bugs me. I wonder what exactly it means to support other women? Why isn’t it innate for me (and a lot of other women)? Why do we tear each other down? Why aren’t we building the scaffolding to raise each other up, singing each other’s praise as we work?