I was sitting at the kitchen table with a friend the other night, and we were talking about raising our sons. And as we shared about the struggle and the joy and the in-between—she said to me, “We mothers really need support. We women really need support.”
Supporting each other is something that might come naturally to some of us. But really, I see that the biggest “lack” regarding support is in the actual admission that we need it.
- That we need someone to listen to us.
- That we need someone to say “Yes, I hear you.”
- That we need someone to say “Hey, I see that you need a break. Let me take the children.”
- That we need a day off from work, a night off from dishes.
- That we need a date with our beloved.
I was raised to overcome. I am so glad that I have that capacity and that power. But part of that fortitude means it’s also hard for me to share that I need help. Because in doing so, somehow (I think), I am admitting that I’m not doing well or not feeling well or having a hard time and for me that equates to victimhood and I don’t like that. I don’t want to share that.
I’m discovering something I didn’t know—and that is that receiving support from other people with whom I feel safety and love and compassion allows me to find the inner strength to overcome. I don’t have to gun it anymore. I don’t have to do it on my own. None of us do. That’s the trick of the “I’m strong enough on my own” mentality, or feeling afraid to share. All that does is block us from receiving what we need.
I see women holding it together or only sharing when it’s all rosy; or not wanting to admit that they’re in tears; or that they’re having a hard time; or that they’re feeling lost and alone. I see women not wanting to show the hard bits. I get it. And I’m calling us out. It’s time to ask for what we need. Because the bottom line is, not everyone knows how to randomly offer support. But most people know how to give it when you ask. In fact, people who love us are usually grateful when we say, “Please help me. Please come over. Please hug me. Please listen. Please walk with me. Can you help?” Because then they know exactly what to do.
What I’m interested in exploring right now is: How do I receive support? How do I offer support?
- How can I support my friend—one of the most loving mothers I know—as she sends her boy to boarding school for his high school years?
- How can I be there for a friend as certain parts of her life are falling to the ground?
- How can I support the mother of small children who just needs a moment to herself?
Sure, a nice text message is lovely once in awhile, but I need more. I need to receive more and give more. I want to look my friends in the eye and hold their hearts as they share with me. And this is why women gather, right? Why we need to gather—why we need to come together. We are all so busy taking care of things, and we do that because we want to, but we need to find a way to come together and to support one another. We need to make it a priority to come together, as women once did.
We can each take a small step toward this today. Make time to call your friend. Host a dinner where everyone checks their phones at the door so that it’s screen-free. Think about who might need support right now, and think about what feels good to you when you need support. Offer that. And ask for what you need. Let your tribe feel useful, giving, empowered. Nourish yourself. Share it with others.
photos: Catherine Just