I admit to spending most of my life not understanding the true value of female friendships. It’s not that I didn’t have friends, some of those long-lasting, but I didn’t understand how the friendships I’d form would be so influential in helping me grow as a wife, mother, Christian, and a semi-normal functioning member of society. I say semi-normal because these friendships have also taught me how to push the envelope at times and stop caring if I fit into the camp of what others deem as normal.
It was about two months ago when I found myself discussing the varying roles women play with my 12-year-old daughter – working mom, stay at home mom, full-time volunteer mom, independent business owner mom, and the list goes on.
As we discussed the diverse world of moms, my primary goal was to help my daughter understand that she has choices. That one day, she’ll get asked questions that no man in Corporate America will ever be asked – “Are you going back to work after the baby’s born?” or “How do you plan to juggle motherhood and your career?”
I choose to work full-time. My kids spent many of their years in daycare, and I don’t regret that choice, but I’m not the mom who feels like my daughter must follow in my footsteps to be successful. Our employment status or the work we get paid to do doesn’t define who we are or our importance in society. I can say all of those things, but the reality is that I can only approach my guidance to her as she grows into a woman as someone who’s always chosen the path of “working mom.”
This is where I began to truly understand the beauty of female friendships and my love for the tribe of women I’ve established in my life.
I don’t have to understand it all (what a relief). I have a group of amazing women who are a shining example of what it means to make your own way as a woman in this world. These same women who’ve influenced me in so many ways over the years can fill in the gaps where my experience lacks. I’ve effectively found my tribe, and I no longer see this as something optional but critical to who I am. Even better? There’s just too many in my tribe to list by name.
There’s the friend I share wine with while we talk about the challenges of working and raising a family. She understands the tough decisions we make, the sacrifices on both ends every day, and the days when we wish we fell into one of the other categories of Mom.
I have the women I can’t live without. The ones who parent my kids when I’m not around, show up to their events when they have a hundred other things to do, and re-arrange their schedule to drop off or pick up a kid because some days it just takes a village.
The one’s who’ve gone before me are the women who’ve raised their children and are watching them leave for college or find their way in the world. They openly share their mistakes and reassure me when I think I’ve royally screwed up and destined my children for years of therapy.
Iron sharpens iron perfectly describes the women who push me to get up early two days a week. Not so I can lose weight, but so I can be the healthiest me to compensate for the years that kid stress is shaving off my life and the wine I refuse to live without (also a direct result of kid stress sometimes or just because it’s Tuesday and some weeks, Tuesday deserves to be celebrated). They’ve also helped me determine what it truly means to grow personally and in my faith with no judgment and plenty of room for grace, which is a blessing I’m thankful for each day.
You wonderful, amazing women who’ve taken your passion in life and used it to help provide for your families are my heroes. Those passions are diverse, and it takes boldness to step out in faith and create your own business. You inspire me creatively and also tend to be the ones who push me to keep following my passion of writing.
Speaking of writing, there’s my writing community that consists largely of the fun, brilliant and super talented women on this blog who put themselves out there because they have a voice that deserves to be heard. We share diverse opinions and perspectives that are celebrated amongst each other and not condemned which isn’t always the case in a world where it can be easier to tear each other down instead of build each other up.
I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that I’d be proud for my daughter to follow in the footsteps of any of these women. I celebrate them and their choices, even when they aren’t the choices I chose to make because they deserve to be celebrated. I never wanted to be a part of a tribe that consisted of women just like me. Where would the fun be in that? I wanted to be challenged, inspired, forgiven, encouraged, and made to laugh every single day because we should never take ourselves too seriously. That’s the stuff my tribe is made of.