Me and my best girlfriends - my sisters.
Since moving to Michigan, one of my biggest struggles has been loneliness. I miss my family and I miss my husband's family. I miss my sisters, horribly. I also miss those few, precious-as-rubies girlfriends God gave me in WV. Gosh, do I miss my girlfriends!
For some reason, we women are weird about girlfriend relationships, aren't we? It is really hard for us to make friends! Yet, we really need friendships with other women - as integrally as we need the love and support of our husbands. Don't get me wrong, Matt is my best friend on earth and I wouldn't have it any other way. But Matt will never be able to really empathize with what I go through during pregnancy and mothering our children, he'll never be interested in having long, deep talks about dealing with the kinds of insecurities and trials only women have to deal with, (and he'll sure as hell NEVER enjoy browsing Anthropologie with me!)
So we're surrounded by women on a daily basis, at school, at playgroups, at church, and at work who are going through the same crap all of us women go through, who wish they had a girlfriend handy to talk it all out with and who are lonely for that awesome, inspiring, fulfilling Anne Shirley/Diana Barry type of bosom frienship - yet for some reason it is still SO hard for women to make friends with other women! And it drives me crazy.
I have a couple of theories about why this is.
1. We're Insecure
I can say from experience, that I have often felt that anxiety driven insecurity of I'm not cool enough to be her friend, or she wouldn't like me when meeting other women. We all deal with insecurities and I know that they are very difficult, complicated things to work through, but I've come to realize it is cruelly unfair to make these kinds of assumptions about people you don't really know. Lets give our fellow women the benefit of the doubt before writing them off as not-befriend-able.
2. We Compare
Why would we feel insecure about being cool enough to be so-and-so's friend? I've learned (from personal experience, mind you, I do these same stupid things,) that the basis for these judgements are usually pretty darn shallow. I'd say the big 3 are beauty, status and confidence.
We see someone who we deem to be prettier than us, and we immediately feel inferior.
We see someone who appears to be materialistically wealthier than we are and we feel shabby.
We see someone who exudes confidence in their walk and smile and we feel defensive.
We then let these insecurities keep us from what could be awesome, meaningful friendships!
It's like the backwards reflection of snobbiness.
Basically, we can be really big jerks, us women.
I for one would like to stop my brain from bullying myself, and retrain it to love what God made me, so I can shed these darned insecurities and open myself up to love and be loved by other women.
We really, really need each other, girls!
3. We Make Our Kids Our Whole Lives
This one's going to come off as sounding weird and controversial, but it honestly aggravates me when I try to get to know another girl and all she can talk and think about are her kids. Yes, our kids are extremely precious and important, and as mothers we devote the majority of our lives to unselfishly pouring time, love and effort into them. But I do not want to be one of those moms who lose themselves completely in their role as "mom." I have other names that are just as important to me. I love my kids and my role as "mom" AND I still have other interests, passions and dreams outside my home.
Bonding over the trials and triumphs of motherhood is a great thing to do in a friendship, but it's ok to bond over other things too. You're not a bad mom if you get excited talking about books, movies, fashion, art, music, etc. You're not even a bad mom if you make a girlfriend "date" to go out to a movie, or out shopping or out for a pottery class, without the little ones!
I think we, as mothers, sometimes even discount our very real need to have deep, meaningful friendships with other women because we have this little guilt complex that we carry in our back pocket that constantly whispers to us "but you're not doing a good enough job at the mothering thing."
Let's ditch that annoying guilt once and for all, and tell it to never come back! Because just like we'll never be the best mothers we can be if we neglect to take care of ourselves, we're never going to be able to be a good girlfriend if we walk around believing we have nothing to offer.
We all have something to offer in a friendship. We all have lives and stories that need to be shared. And right now, there's another woman out there who desperately needs YOU to be her girlfriend, and chances are good that you really need her too.
Thinking about these things the last month or two, I've realized I've been wasting my time being frustrated with the women around me who I have assumed had no interest in being my friend. Even if they really, truly didn't want to be my friend, that doesn't mean there's something wrong with me. I'm trying to shift my focus from inward to outward, and by that I mean I desperately want to stop worrying about what other people think of me and to start worrying about people.
Someone who loves other women, and who loves and appreciates the bonding struggles and miracles that only women experience, and who can see the women who are silently crying out for a best girlfriend to share life's ups and downs with because her eyes aren't pointed backwards, towards herself - that's the kind of woman I am aiming to grow up to be.
(PS: And make sure you let the girlfriends you have in your life already know how precious they are to you! Great girlfriends are a gift from God!)