After a rather long day of shuttling to and from various appointments and obligations, I’m worn out! I can’t wait to hit the hay, but I’m desperately trying to just get a few minutes to write, even if it means I only get to write a line or two, in between barking commands at my children, picking something up that I’m sure I’m not the first to walk over…again, or the hamster-on-a-wheel activity of loading yet another load of laundry. No Chocolate Communion for me tonight! I did manage to scoop up some discounted Valentine’s chocolate at the local Target, but they’re not for me, they’re for the children… at least that is what I keep telling myself.
One of today’s highlights, if not the highlight, was talking to a long, but not lost, friend. I’m not sure that we started out as friends when we first introduced ourselves to each other in high school, but thanks to social media, and the power of the written word, we’ve been able to reconnect beautifully and authentically, without the backdrop of the banter, gossip, or foolishness that often characterizes the years between ages fourteen to eighteen. My high school experience was a flash in the pan anyway. I came away with very few relationships that I would maintain between then and now.
This friend was not among the few; however, our trips of motherhood, marriage, and life in general, reconnected us in a way that required no explanation, no pretense, and no justification. The unique journeys of womanhood color our now-friendship in a way that is meaningful, and vibrant. While we’ve taken some different routes, our journeys have taken us to similar places in the development of self, and some of the stops along the way are familiar to us both. I have a few friendships like this one, each as unique as the individual. These friendships have become the backbone of what I call my sisterhood. Its members represent an extraordinary network of uniquely gifted women, each enterprising and skilled in their own right. Though they themselves aren’t friends with each other, they are all my sistah gal-friends. They strengthen me in ways that I never thought I’d come to need or acknowledge. This small sisterhood enriches, encourages, and empowers. Whether giving advice, lending expertise or sharing experience, there is a tremendous amount of reciprocity in terms of what each party is willing to give to, or take away from the table. In these relationships, I feel valued and confided in, and I arrive at an epiphany that we…first as girls, now as women, were taught very limited notions about sisterhood, and its relevance.
I grew up in a family where I did not witness strong, affirming, ongoing relationships between my mother and other women. I was taught, explicitly and implicitly, that women were not to be trusted, and that relationships with women weren’t even worth the hassle. Undoubtedly, this perspective informed the way I viewed myself in the company of women, and as a premise, I did not seek relationship with women as friends. As such, I reserved a special brand of cynicism on the subject, and never really thought about how this behavior would impact my own daughters, were I to have any.
Well, two daughters later, though not necessarily because of them, I’m convinced that a sisterhood of women, even if only a handful, is essential for women to live authentically. Rather than shun the idea of sisterhood, women should deliberately forge relationships with other women. This isn’t to say that women should force friendships to exist where they may not; however, I am saying that we should make a conscientious effort to develop and nurture relationships that offer a potential for further growth and self-actualization. Ultimately, if there is any substance or connection, these relationships will become effortless. It will be like talking to an old friend, and picking up where you left off, or somewhere new altogether but with a common destination in mind. I find this much easier when the other party is also rooted in something greater than their own limited, human self. Also, when the desire to become richer as a result of these connections supersedes one’s need for self-preservation and ego, authentic relationship will abound.
I hope to provide my daughters with examples of authentic relationship, and a newer and more sensible understanding on the subject of sisterhood. While I don’t have the ability to rewrite my earlier lessons on this subject, I can write volumes for them on the subject through lived experience and examples. My ability to nurture and fortify the relationships with the women in my life will be the ultimate proving ground. Certainly, they will come to rely on each other, first as sisters, but ultimately, I want them to understand the importance of reaching beyond biological lines to seek and maintain authentic relationships with other women throughout their life experiences.
Some musical inspiration on the subject:
- Mothers Teach Daughters How To Relate To Other Women (npr.org)
- Video: Sisterhood of the Red Hat Ladies (cbsnews.com)