The Worst Phrase We Can Say to Each Other as Women
In this season, more than any other, I am constantly aware of how different my life looks from the lives of each of my friends. Truly, we are all in different places. Some are single and still navigating the dating scene, while others have been married throughout their entire adult lives. Some friends are patiently waiting for a baby, while others are celebrating birthdays and milestones for multiple children. I have friends with military spouses who are getting moved all over the world, and I have friends who have never moved away from their hometown. Each story is challenging, purposeful, and needed, but as women, we have a tendency to isolate ourselves because of our circumstances.
When you’re feeling unsure of your footing, it’s tempting to push people away, instead of drawing them close. Maybe you thought your story as a 20-something, as a wife, or as a mother was going to look different than it does today, and maybe you feel like others could be analyzing, or worse - judging, your choices. But, I think it’s time to stop and recognize that we, as women, are guilty of making other women, who are trying to speak into our lives, feel like they don’t have a place because they don’t stand where we stand.
Because if there’s one phrase I hear women say to each other on a regular basis, it’s, “Oh, just wait. You’ll understand when…”
And married ladies and moms? You guys are the biggest culprits.
When I was a teenager, I wasn’t the girl who had always been chased by boys. It was much the opposite, really. Ross was the first serious boyfriend I ever had, and yet somehow, I found myself navigating the waters of dating before many of my friends. In the years to follow, I was the first to move away to college, to get married, to start a business, and to leave the majority of our family and friends on the other side of the country. I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I have had my fair share of feeling misunderstood and left out of somebody else’s “normal”.
When all of my friends were getting jobs that paid them scheduled paychecks, it was tough to explain why I couldn’t go on that vacation because I genuinely didn’t know when my next paycheck would be. When my marriage was in the pits, you better believe it was tough to attend a friend’s wedding and watch them in the honeymoon stage thinking, “That was me, just a few years ago.” So many times in those early years, I vented to friends who couldn’t imagine the world of entrepreneurship that I was navigating, and they would try to give me the best advice or support that they could muster. And instead of feeling comfort from their intentionality, it was easier to dig into isolation. I could feel the words, hot like venom rising up in the back of my throat, “You don’t understand what I’m going through. Just wait, you’ll understand when…”
I think married ladies and moms are the biggest perpetrators of this mindset for a few reasons, but the biggest is that we put such high expectations on these 2 life milestones, and we’re often let down when they aren’t as smooth sailing as we’d hoped. I know I’ve done it to my single friends, and I know my mom friends have done it to their non-mom friends. We try to safeguard them from naivety, warn them of the hardship to come, and placate their current worries because we believe bigger storms are at bay.
But…what if they never get married or have children? Or, what if their experience is totally different than our own? And, dare I say it, what if all of our warnings don’t actually stem from a sense of protection, but from the feeling that we somehow missed the mark in our own season of struggle, and we need to justify our behavior to someone who seems to be behind us in the race?
Before I got married, I couldn’t have possibly imagined what married life would be like, but I do remember being frustrated by all of the people who said, “Oh just wait. You’ll understand when you’re married!!!” Guess what? I never took a single valuable lesson away from people who said that to me. It made me nervous for marriage, scared that my relationship was going to turn upside down, and made me feel embarrassed of my current season, one where I “couldn’t possibly know” all the things.
You know what I didn’t hear enough of (and still don’t, for that matter)? People cheering on couples who are about to get married, or single people crushing it in their current season. I want more women who are eager to make friendships that cross boundaries and life stages because we all have wisdom to learn from one another. In the future, I want to be a mother who encourages women who don’t have children yet that they can do this, they are made for it, and they will figure it out. Or, that it’s totally okay if they never want children, too, because we are not more worthy, more loved by God, or more “on mission” when we join the ranks of any of these seasons.
Our words hold so much power, and we often use them to set boundaries before we seek common ground. It would be so much easier to insulate ourselves with other people who share our current life circumstances, and while I believe we need that commonality, we also need to be prepared that things always shift, and great relationships are based on something much deeper than your career, your marital status, and raising children. Let’s become women who try to understand and try to imagine walking in the shoes of someone who is living a totally different storyline than our own.