Thank You, Women.

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Women championing women.

I see a beautiful, bright woman with a passion for her work and helping others. I see a loving, generous mother, who dotes on her children. She talks about the transition in going back to work, creating something that she loves, and her face brightens. She talks about maintaining balance as her husband adjusts to the change – her interests taking up weekends and evenings- and her face becomes a little less bright.

Transitions can be difficult. Re-entering the workforce after children can be as big an adjustment as leaving it to have your children, particularly if a number of years have gone by. Most women I work with are excited by re-entry because they have carefully selected something they love and enjoy doing, and the excitement is even greater than the fear or self-doubt that may accompany their choice.

Often the struggle stems not as much from the work or time commitments but how others, particularly significant others, react to the change. I see the light dim on a woman’s face when the husband enters the conversation of balancing work with family. Guilt, value, responsibility all creep into the conversation. We can assist one another in these times of transition.

Letting go of the pressure, of what’s expected of ourselves, or perceived to be expected by others, is the first step. Getting clear on what we want is the second. Conscious communication is the next. Once you know what it is you are passionate about and have made a commitment to yourself to pursue, create a comfortable atmosphere for a conversation where you and your partner can enjoy talking without distraction.

Discuss how the change may impact the family and determine what everyone needs and how those needs may be met during the transition. Go easy, this is a collaboration and may require ongoing talks. A weekly “what does everyone need this week?” may be necessary to keep everyone in the family feeling supported.

Then set additional systems in place to support you. This is the critical step: women supporting women. Reach out to your community. Women in transition experience enough struggle without battling one another.

It can be easy to fall into envy over a friend’s new home, island holiday, or fantastic job. Don’t. Find joy for that friend. When another succeeds at a challenge, cheer her on. When a normally-dynamic woman you know looks down in the dumps, abstain from the “nice to see even she has bad days” and instead try “how can I help you?”

When you need help, no matter how long you’ve presented yourself as self-sufficient, reach out and ask for it. Create a field of support. Allow others the opportunity to be of service and find purpose in helping you. Need help with the kids, meals, an introduction to a business lead or client referral? Ask for it. Vulnerability is a great window through which true strength may enter, but only if you open it.

Why waste energy with each of us struggling against the same current? Why not build a raft together and float along the stream? Go easy on yourself, your partner, and those in your community. Get clear on what you need and have conscious conversations. Ask for help and extend the offer in return. Create a tribe and be an active participant in that tribe. Use the tribe’s support in times of transition.

Make a choice to lift another woman up. And receive a lift from someone else. A simple thank you will do.

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