Like many of you, I am a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend, a mommy, a wife, but I’ll be honest. It is easy to feel invisible. Somehow between the kitchen, the clothes graveyard (a.k.a. the laundry room) and the carpool line, there are many days when I seem to have lost a first name. Like you, my list is always long. If it’s not a to-do, it’s a situation heavy on my heart, a list of people I need and want to catch up with and the nagging feeling that I am perpetually “behind the eight ball”, as my Daddy likes to say, with everything else, both known and the ever-elusive unknown. You know- that thing you’ve forgotten that’s oh-so-very important but you just cannot quite put your finger on? Yeah, that’s it, and I’m pretty sure I’m behind on that, too. Then there are the daily questions. Have I made Christ the center of my home, sent each kid to school fully-equipped for the day feeling loved and confident, made my husband feel appreciated, respected and desired, checked in on loved ones far away, planned a healthy dinner (ugh), kept the house up (double-ugh)? Ladies, with all that falls in our laps, it’s a wonder we even get out of bed some days! Couple all the responsibilities with the way we feel about ourselves going into them and we have a recipe for…invisibility.
It’s not for lack of support. My family has always loved and supported me. Our society tears women down and it starts when we are are girls. From “tag checks” for certain brands of clothing in middle school to Pinterest, the adult version of “How To Feel Inadequate Without Really Trying”, something has to give. I mean who needs 25 crafts made from toilet paper rolls anyway? 10 ways you’ve been doing your make-up all wrong? Workouts to tone every individual part of your body in 8 minutes or less? Girlfriends and mommies, the little and big eyes we love the most look to us for so much. How in the world can we fill their cups to face the world confidently if our own cups are bone dry?
Once in the early days of my marriage I was going on and on about something and I was growing in frustration with the way my sweet husband wasn’t responding. He meant to be funny but what he said rang with truth. “Honey, I will never be your girlfriend.” Ouch. At the time I wanted to sucker-punch him right in the gut, but he was right. I cannot expect him to play a role he was never created to play. First and foremost, as a woman of faith I know that my life’s struggles and concerns are to go to God. The Bible clearly states in 1Peter 5:7 to “cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you”. And I do. I also believe He gives us people to encourage us as we travel life’s ups and downs here on Earth. My husband is incredible and he does that in many, many ways, but he IS still a man. He wants to fix things and sometimes, I need something slightly different. Ah yes… enter the gift of girlfriends.
This week at the spur of the moment, a dear friend and I saw an opportunity to squeeze in a quick gab-session while multi-tasking at a local coffee shop/bookstore where we both found we needed to shop and we pounced on it! Over a yummy coffee we both took turns talking as fast as we could, knowing our respective lists were long and crazy schedules must soon resume. No great world crises were resolved and no earth-shattering decisions were made but by the end, we both realized our loads felt lighter. She gets me and I, her. I felt more ready to reach out with whatever was needed to those around me and like magic, I felt I had a name again! Whether it’s with a sister, mom, girlfriend or mentor, ladies, we need to build each other up and seek out and nurture relationships with others that will leave us feeling lighter, stronger and clearly visible. Let’s fill each others’ cups. Only we truly understand how much is needed of us and how desperately we WANT to pour out of ourselves for those we love while maintaining our identities. No one likes to feel tapped out.
I want to be more of a cup-filler, even to those I don’t know. And so I’ll begin. To the mom in the minivan a few weeks ago who was driving about 20 miles per hour below the speed limit, I will admit that you annoyed me. Then I passed you and saw your two identical baby carriers and that look on your face like you hadn’t slept in ten years. DARLIN’! I do hope you are getting some sleep now and you have a girlfriend or fellow mommy who is coming over to give you some rest on a regular basis! Hang in there. It does get better. I did not have twins but I did have two somewhat close in age and remember days when I couldn’t remember if I’d put on deodorant or brushed my teeth. Thank you for the reminder. I contacted my friend who has two young ones that very day to check on her. And to the mom who looked so very good in her teeny-tiny bikini on the beach over Spring Break, I am not going to lie. I wanted to hate you for your perfect abs and taut bottom. I did really wish you had put on more clothes, especially when I am pretty sure my middle school-aged boy noticed. But you probably worked really hard for those muscles and when I saw the fun you had playing with your kids more than anyone else on the beach, I got off my hiney and did the same. My freckle-faced boy and I played a great little paddle game and he cackled his goofy little laugh when I had to run into the freezing water for the ball. Thank you for that. Playing on my phone with my pastey white legs propped up will never get me a booty like yours anyway.
For my cup-fillers, you know who you are. Thank you for living out
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Well, the mountain of laundry awaits…and since the cooking fairy still has not made an appearance, what in the world am I going to make for dinner?