Today I received the most lovely message on my answering machine. It came from someone I don't know well, who admittedly has become a "blog groupie". She told me of her admiration for my efforts, how much she enjoys my blog, my insights and the kind of mother and wife I am. I melted (and narcististically pressed "SAVED"). Once my head deflated a bit and I tried to humbly absorb the unexpected flattery I realized what stuck out the most was something she explained in passing, "I just wanted to tell you this because I don't think we tell each other nice things enough". I assume by "WE" she meant all woman. I thought about the last time I had pulled aside a peer; a wife and mother struggling with the responsibility of it all, and said "I notice you, and I think you are doing a great job", or simply "I admire your efforts"? Sadly I don't think I ever have. I think for the most part woman live on the defensive. We compete, we undermine, we quietly disagree or turn up our noses. We judge, we gossip, we nitpick. All this to build ourselves up, to grasp at some indirect proof of our success, if only because we have spotted someone doing a worse job on some level. It is a vicious cycle and the true root of our oppression. Imagine where we could be with some support? Imagine if we held up one another in validation? Imagine if we were there to catch one another when we fell, truly free of judgement or gloat? We would be powerful, amazing, capable.
As the recent recipient of such a rare moment of external validation, one that I wasn't even fully aware I was in need of I can attest to it's power. I am confident that I have the approval of my husband and son, I feel appreciated and that I am doing well. Why then the periods of self doubt, of insecurity, of meekness? That void was addressed today as it was filled, with a few kind and inspired words from a peer. It matters what "WE" think of one another. It is only "WE" who know the weight of the pressure to succeed, to do it all and to not let it break us. It is "WE" who know what it feels like to do it side by side and simultaneously doing it alone.
More then a boost to my ego I am most appreciative of the example set. It will serve as reminder to me not to, on some level, perceive another woman's success as threatening to my own, to not judge anthers weakness before understanding her story. I will not hold back words of encouragement, awe or congratulations again. It is not a competition. It is a shared objective. We can get there together.