Unintentional Meanness Amongst Women
There is something to be said for choosing unity over division. Being part of a community that provides strength as opposed to walking your path alone. I feel that everyone has a community they should be able to lean on, but sometimes your own community tears you down.
I belong to a community called WOMEN. As beautiful and as strong as that community is, it is also a community that, at times, can be full of perhaps unintentional meanness. I call it that because I really do hold hope that it is not with a negative intent that certain comments are spewed. In these times where we see so many women uniting for a great cause I want to touch a little on this subject matter so that perhaps a change in perspective can be reached. Motherhood can use a little positivity.
I've compiled a list in no particular order of a few comments I've come across whether directed personally at me or someone else around me in a group setting I'd like to share and discuss.
1- Wow, you look great for your age. What the heck does that even mean? Is that supposed to be an indication that aging has a limit on looking good? That aging is a terrible thing and we should fight it tooth and nail? That our value diminishes as the number increases?
2- You're going back to work so soon? Aren't you afraid to leave the baby? Well now that you said that I'm wondering if I should be, but if you must know we all have our reasons for returning to work when we do. That is such a judgmental question. I mean, how soon is too soon? It varies in everyone's life journey. And don't you think a parent, in general, would prefer to be with their little one a little longer than go back to work?
3- Oh you look so good now! What the heck did I look like before? Did you think that by making such a statement you were showing me love and acceptance? Did you think it was kind? Have you thought that perhaps I've been going through a rough time? Judgments on appearance as a whole come with the package called female anatomy, but it would be nice not to have to deal with it coming from another female.
4- Your kid is so energetic, how do you keep up? Now, this one is loaded because are you saying my kid is out of control? Are you hinting that they are annoying you? What exactly do you mean by "so energetic"? If they are quiet we label them shy, but if they are playful and creative they are labeled energetic. For a parent who may be having a rough day, hearing someone call their kid energetic may rub them the wrong way.
5- Lucky you, your daughter is in college now. So what was I before? This one is totally me. I hear it all the time now. As if my Lil Mama miraculously woke up grown. As if I didn't have to put in years of dedication as all parents do to get to this stage. As if me choosing to work with my life situations and having just one child is a jab at their choices. All I say to this one is I was lucky when she was three and when she was twelve and now that she is almost twenty-two. Parenting is a journey and all stages come with lows and highs. It is what it is, just working with it.
There are many other exchanges between parents I see often, but these just caught my attention more. I am sure that on occasion the Dads get their fill, but the way they handle these moments is slightly different. Their first reactions are never to place blame or find fault in themselves. Women for some reason always question what is wrong with me, what did I do wrong?
This is a perfect opportunity to stop and think when and where this has happened to you, if ever, and moving forward what would be the best reaction? Are you doing this to other women? And if that is so, why? The intent is very important when communicating, so what are your intentions when you speak? Are you projecting your own feelings on another? Are you trying to make yourself feel better by making someone else feel bad? Are you even aware of how your comments may be coming across?
Again, in this time of solidarity, I invite you to spill that attention and intent over to your next brunch or PTA meeting. Let it trickle to that next encounter in the grocery store or school playground. Support, encouragement and uplifting don't have an expiration date or set venue. Change your perspective so that you may carry it with you always.
What are your thoughts? Have you been a party in unintentional meanness amongst women? Share your experience, join me in Mommy Chatter.
Always stress free xo,