The older I get, the more important my friendships with other women become.
Even in the midst of raising a family and connecting with my husband for fleeting moments between work and appointments and karate classes and holding down a career and running a household because kids wear clothes that get dirty every day, these connections I have with other women remain vital; perhaps because I am in the midst of all of that. I need that connection with other women, who are in the same place as me, crying out in horror over the fact that yes, it is possible to have a pimple and crow’s feet at the same time, and to bemoan the fact that dying one’s hair is no longer done for a fun change, but to keep the creeping strands of silver at bay.
And I’m not talking about the kind of women friends to whom you smile as you wonder, “Is she judging me? I bet she thinks I look fat. Does she remember that I was wearing this same shirt yesterday?”
I’m talking about those women to whom you send picture messages of the burned mess of a dinner you still served your family, to whom you admit that you can’t get your oldest to stop cussing and damn it, you don’t understand why. I’m talking about the women with whom you laugh without fear of the inevitable snort, until your sides ache and you’re all wiping away tears from your crow-footed eyes, and the women who help you wipe away those tears when they aren’t from laughter. I’m talking about the women with whom you can admit, “We’re all just making this up as we go, right?”
I’m talking about those deep, fierce friendships with the women who say, “Yes, absolutely, go for it, friend, and we will be here to push you if you stall, catch you if you fall, and scream with joy when you succeed.”
Those kinds of friendships.
As we enter into Women’s History Month, I find myself looking around at all the strong women I am lucky enough to know. My own mother is one of them, and she is the fiercest, most long-standing member of my female tribe. I look at my friends, who are confident and comfortable in their own skins, holding down positions of leadership while raising strong children, or who are in the trenches at home, so busy they don’t even realize they’ve worn the same pair of yoga pants for three days. I love these women, who teach me to celebrate what I have accomplished while pushing me to accomplish more, and who also sometimes admit that they bought new underwear instead of doing the laundry this week and tell me they only cleaned because their mother-in-law is on the way.
I look at my daughter, the smallest, newest member of my tribe, at not even a year old yet, and I tell her, “Surround yourself with smart women, darling girl. Surround yourself with funny, fierce, fabulous women who know that their own worth isn’t diminished by your success.”
Female friendships aren’t always easy. They are sometimes shaped by mutual mistrust, and an inability to be vulnerable. But they don’t have to be.
Find the ones with whom you can be vulnerable. Find the ones who will howl with laughter over your latest mishap but will be ready to defend you when someone laughs at you. Find the ones with whom you can expose your heart without fear of ridicule or judgement or scorn.
And if you haven’t found any women like that yet, then become that woman. Embrace yourself, first – every flaw and talent, your entire past and your potential. And then go find your tribe. They’re out there, waiting, wondering where you are at.