I have too many thoughts about the school drop off/pick up process. I have dreamed up fun videos I want to star in to show people how crazy they really look when cutting me off. I have debated keeping mini wine bottles in my car for those “just in case” afternoons. I have considered the cost of just having an Uber pick my kids up for me while I wait down the road for them. It’s a serious struggle y’all.
But the thing about it is, I get to see all my mom friends during this time. We get to catch up while we wait for the kids. We make plans to ride together to upcoming field trips, talk about class projects, and catch up on life in the few minutes of passing each other daily.
So that makes up for the chaos of actually navigating the car lines. But I have started to realize something about myself. I can gauge how well I am doing by whether or not I get out of the car to get my kids or if I use the pick up line. Some people may realize they are struggling when they are having too many drinks at night, or eating too many treats, but for me- it’s the car line.
And lately, I have been in the car line. I am totally hiding. Trying my hardest to disengage. Putting as much distance between me and other women as I possibly can. Why? Because women are brutal sometimes.
About 2 years ago we got chickens for the first time. I raised them from days old and watched them every day as they grew. I was fascinated with the pecking order of hens. They are terrifying and fascinating animals. If you have never been around them, there is a reason they call it a pecking order. The hen wanting to be the leader will peck the others until they submit. She will peck them to death if necessary. If a hen ever sees a weak spot in another hen, they will all gang up on her until she becomes an outsider, or they kill her, whichever works out first. It’s the craziest thing. Hens are “pack animals” so they are not to be alone, yet they destroy each other when together sometimes.
After several months of watching this I realized that everything I ever needed to know about Women’s Ministry, I could have learned from watching my chickens. We too are terrifying and fascinating creatures. We sense weakness, and we attack. We fight for position. We want connection, but we too can destroy each other when together.
Lately, I have been in positions of being with more women. Specifically more moms. And man, if there is anyone who can attack on command- it’s other mothers.
As women, we want to present the perfect life, perfect marriage, perfect kids. I certainly don’t pick the picture where I look older or overweight to put online, do you? I try to post about how crazy my life can be, but I know it’s not the norm. But it doesn’t help anyone to pretend we are perfect. Because messy is real. It’s the stuff we need to know other people go through too, so we don’t feel like we are on our own isolated planet of crazy.
So here is the truth- My kids act up and I yell at them. Like legit yell. To the point where I have had to go and ask them for forgiveness for losing it. My marriage isn’t perfect. Tony and I fight. Sometimes over stupid stuff like what to eat for dinner, and sometimes over big things like how to run our business, or how to raise our kids. And I am not perfect. I have to pull myself out of general discontentment on a DAILY basis. I wake up and tell myself “you have a great life. It’s not perfect, but it is great.” Because if I don’t remind myself, I go into serious battles with depression, anxiety, and unhappiness.
And when I feel like that, when I feel like I am not doing as well as I think I should be, or as good as others appear to be doing, my words become a weapon.
I have said things to other women so they can feel less than, and I can feel better. I have pretended I can’t relate to their struggles, so that I feel like I have the upper hand. And I have had that done to me. And it hurts. You know the saying “hurt people, hurt people.” And right now, I am dealing with the hurt by hiding in my car. I know, super healthy.
But the thing is- those women’s words don’t define me., and sometimes I forget that. Those women are hurting just like I have been when I say hurtful things. And although I want to, I can’t take it personal. My role may be to extend a friendly response to a hurt person. Or an invite to someone being rude because really they just feel left out and need a friend.
I say that to encourage myself right now. And I say that to encourage the women reading this. Those of you who have given up on trying to make new friendships or build a community because other women have attacked you. Those who have been hurt and they too are hiding.
I think more so now than ever, we live in a world pushing women to have it all and do it all. Be a mom, a professional, make every dinner Pinterest worthy, every birthday party perfection, every day a good hair day. And whatever you do- never ask for help. Because help makes you weak. And weak women get pecked.
But I’m saying let’s go against what the world says. Let’s be kind. Let’s ask for help. Let’s ask for advice. Lets offer help even when we are not asked, because we know someone needs it. Let’s forgive even when someone doesn’t deserve it. Let’s share our mess and our fears and our sadness. Let’s extend empathy. Let’s celebrate with moms who are winning and cry with the ones who are hurting. Let’s not fight for the top position but hold hands and lead together. But we have to put ourselves out there. We have to show up and be vulnerable ourselves. We have to be willing to hold our own tongue when we are hurt.
AND at some point, we have to stop hiding and get out of the car.