When you’re a teacher – like I was before having children – or you’re married to one – like I am now – your years actually run with the school system. When I look back at the 2014-15 school year, it was a blur of crappiness highlighted by the kind acts and support of my female friends.
Not to go on and on about how crappy 2014-15 was, but just to put it in perspective a bit, it included: my husband losing both of his grandparents in less than two months, my husband starting a new job where he was working 12-14 hours per day, me getting my appendix out, both my children needing to get oral surgery and follow-up speech therapy, and a liver cancer scare based on the scan they did when I had appendicitis. And Silas was four months old when this all started, so I was just trying to get my feet under me as a mother to two. Those are just the highlights.
Needless to say, we were all ready to kiss 2014-15 good-bye. In many ways it was a year of isolation and loneliness, and there were weeks when I seriously wondered if I should look into antidepressants. However, whenever I got out of the house and was able to socialize or hang out with friends, I experienced instantaneous relief for any depression I had. It was largely that experience of loneliness and the importance of female friendships that clarified the importance of sisterhood for me and put me on the path I am now. Because as much as I would love to do a sisterhood retreat in an exotic location someday, it was simply not possible with a new baby, multiple health issues, and a husband who was gone more often than he was home. (Just to be clear, I am extremely appreciative of Ned working as hard and diligently as he did last year.) And I love the monthly sisterhood circles and the women who make them magical and wonderful, but sisterhood is something that I need more than once a month. Sisterhood is something we need in our lives. Every. Single. Day. Hence the name of the blog.As I look back at 2014-15, one of the acts of sisterhood that stands out most to me was when my friend Sarah brought her kids over to my house and watched all four of our children so that I could go grocery shopping by myself for an hour. For those of you who have not been isolated by yourself with a baby and a two-year-old for 12-14 hours a day, this may seem weird. For me, it was the most amazing hour of my entire month.
Sarah knew that Ned was working long hours and offered to watch my kiddos so I could go grocery shopping without lugging two little guys around with me. We set a date and time in the morning so that I could run out while Sarah’s oldest daughter was in preschool. I was looking forward to it. And then, come that morning, I couldn’t find the car keys. I thought at the time that Ned accidentally brought them to work with him, but I think I later found them in some bizarre location where Jonah probably hid them. (Kids these days.) Seriously, my heart broke. I texted Sarah and let her know that I wouldn’t be able to drop the kids off at her place. Maybe another time. And bless her heart – in a really, really genuine way, not the Southern passive aggressive way – Sarah insisted on driving over to my house with her own two kids so that I could use her car to drive to the grocery store. I could have cried. I might have actually.
In some ways, it’s a bit embarrassing to admit how much that hour out of the house, all to myself, meant to me. I’m pretty sure it comes across as pathetic. But at the time, it was exactly the thing that I needed. And it meant so much to me to have a friend who 1.) totally understood what a treat that was, and 2.) was willing to pack two kids up in the middle of winter and drive over to my house so that I could have that hour. No joke, whenever I think about this, the sense of gratitude is a physical sensation for me.
I wanted to blog about my great grocery get away for a couple of reasons. First of all, it was a simple thing that meant so incredibly much to me during a time in my life when I was really struggling. Maybe you would like to reach out to the women in your life and establish more sisterhood, but you feel intimidated about how to do it. Don’t be. Sisterhood doesn’t have to be a grand gesture or an expensive vacation. It can be taking an hour to visit a friend and hold her baby so she can have an uninterrupted shower and a meal. It can be picking up a cup of coffee and delivering it to a sister when she’s having a bad day. Or just because. Don’t end up sitting on your hands because you don’t think you have enough to offer. It’s often the little acts of kindness that mean the most.
Second, if you have the opportunity to receive another sister’s act of kindness, say yes. Accept her kind gesture with the spirit in which it was offered, be grateful for her and for her sisterhood, and enjoy it. Too often as women, when someone asks us if we need help, our first response is, “Oh, no thank you, I’m fine.” Even when we’re not fine at all. Learn to accept help and gestures of kindness with grace and gratitude. And then pay them forward when the opportunity arises.
And that, sisters, is how a positive cycle of women supporting women is established.