Recently 200 moms told me that they felt like they weren’t getting what they needed. They said, “I love my child, but I have no patience, I feel isolated and I’m afraid it will be like this forever. Oh and I think the women’s movement has failed!”
I believe the women’s movement is alive and stronger than ever. Not only that, I believe that women are the answer to what these women feel is missing in their lives.
Because of the women’s movement you can negotiate anything you like with your hubby, partner or significant other.
You can negotiate a 50-50 or a 30-70 split regarding who does what jobs. You can divide the housework, yard work, groceries, finances, who gets a break and when, any way you like.
Because of the women’s movement you can negotiate or you can decide not to negotiate. The point is you get to decide what your life looks like.
Anna Quindlen’s quote on www.womenhistory.about.com sums up what the women’s movement is today, “ It’s important to remember that feminism is no longer a group of organizations or leaders. It’s the expectations that parents have for their daughters, and their sons, too. It’s the way we talk about and treat one another. It’s who makes the money and who makes the compromises and who makes the dinner. It’s a state of mind. It’s the way we live now.”
My grandmother and most of the women in her era weren’t that lucky. There were exceptions of course, but most of the women in my grandmother’s era were never able to negotiate any part of their lives.
My grandmother made all the meals, cleaned the house, washed the laundry, ironed the clothes-every day, did the yard work, and went grocery shopping. And she had to get it all done by 4pm so she could begin dinner. Dinner had to be on the table by 6pm when my grandfather walked in the door. There were no choices, believe me I asked.
My grandmother didn’t get to voice her needs. She wasn’t ever allowed to express what she was feeling.
My grandmother never had a job, let alone a career. Her career was my grandfather first, and then the kids. And when the kids grew up and had kids of their own, she had the grandkids sometimes.
My grandmother swallowed all her anger, lack of patience, and frustration. She was unhappy, and even if she wanted to express herself, it just wasn’t done.
When the women’s movement came along, all of that changed. Women in this country, and in many others, are able to voice their needs and negotiate to make changes to their lives.
Today’s woman has the opportunity to make her life any way she wants it to be. Whether we exercise that right or not, that’s another decision we get to make, too.
There is however, one thing that my grandmother and her friends had that today’s woman, at least in this country, rarely have. And it’s the one thing that I believe answers the question, “Moms, are you getting what you need?”
My grandmother and the women in her era had a “tribe.” My grandmother had good friends who met briefly for coffee at least 3 days a week.
Grandma and her tribe designed their day so they could meet at someone’s house, put on a pot of coffee, and chat, bitch, laugh, or support each other. Grandma’s tri-weekly coffee klatches allowed the women to feel connected. The women did what women do; they talked and worked things out. They had essential connections with each other that chased away the feelings of loneliness. Their tribe filled them up so they could handle the role of mommy 24/7.
I think, even as empowered as women are today, they are longing for connections. Women need other women. Women process how life is going by talking to other women. Women need other females to bring us back to ourselves. I think that’s one reason why parenting feels so isolated and hard these days.
So what can you do?
Create your own “tribe.” Ask some of the women from your mom’s or play group, or ask women you talk to at the park, if they’d like to meet at each other’s house 2-3 times a week to talk and support each other.
I know you just gasped and said, “Oh that’s just what I need, a group of women judging me for having a messy house. That will just put more pressure on me!”
Come on ladies, be honest, tell them your house looks like a tornado landed and then get over it.
Which is more important, letting a messy house stop you from connecting to other women, or creating a tribe of supportive women so you can fill yourself up with female energy and then return to daily life feeling a bit more positive?
As the saying goes, we’ve come a long way baby, it’s time to reconnect so we can go the distance. Give it a shot this summer; you’ll be surprised at what having a “tribe” of supportive women will do for you!
Sharon Silver is a parenting educator and the founder of Proactive Parenting. She’s also the author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding: 108 Ways to Discipline Consciously and Become the Parent You Want to Be.