International Women’s Day was this week (or, as the NSW Government declared,  NSW Women’s Week) and as this week comes to a close I want to pose an important question…

Ladies, are we getting in our own way?

This week has been an emotionally charged one for me.  It’s been a week of standing in front of people sharing my voice (a privilege by any account), it’s been a week of doing my regular solo mum duties, a week where I’ve received the generous support of many and also a week where I’ve truly made a firm decision of who I want to be in the world and how I will choose to use my voice.

The theme of IWD this year was ‘Choose to Challenge’. And while I applaud and support the many and varied challenges I’ve heard about how the male folk of our communities treat women – and rightly so, I also think it’s time that we challenged our fellow women folk about just the same thing.

Every week I feel judged by other women about who I am in the world. And I do not say that lightly.  In the past two week I’ve felt judged by teachers, by school administrative staff, by other mums and even by health practitioners about my choices in the way I raise my family.

And it’s true – I do have a very busy job.

But the other thing that is true is that I am there for my children, and I also have a very strong philosophy in ensuring they are capable and skilled to face the outside world as adults – that’s not neglect, that’s a skill set.

And this is where we need to support one another ladies, not tear one another apart be it about our kids, our jobs, our lives or our thighs. Let’s just stop it. Now.

I hear women speak about that girl being ‘bad news’ or this girl having done that thing and I cringe as the topics rise. I was a young girl once and (as per my adult self FAR from a perfect version). I try to teach my girls that if you don’t like someone just get out of their way, not always easy in the school yard it’s true.

Once upon a time the gossip was sanctioned to the school gates – now-a-days Facebook has taken carriage of what should have been left as a petty comment about a small person who is still forming their place in the world.

Ladies, if you are mum taking to social media to complain about other people and especially other children for goodness sake STOP, NOW. What you are doing isn’t only casting confusion, uncertainty and blame upon the certain, or potential ‘alleged’ perpetrators, it’s also showing your daughters that that sort of behaviour is OK. And frankly, it never is.

Everyone will suffer at some point, everyone will be hurt, disappointed, let down in some way as they grow – but is exposing said incident or frustration on Facebook going to assist? Or is it actually going to create a whole new set of problems.

You see, our children are natives of social media and I truly believe we need to demonstrate our abilities to maintain community as we connect, nurture and welcome a diversity of opinion in our conversations.

Please, let’s not become a community that teaches our young people to shame an alleged offender first- then deal with the truth. And let’s face it, this is what the worst form of trolling is made of.

A good friend of mine says “when you have a problem go straight to the source”. I support this with the caveat that we all know ‘difficult’ conversations can be intimidating and just a little scary – until they’ve actually been had.

This is the way I intend to live – and the intentions that I share with my children:

  • If people are always supporting all of my opinions I am swimming in the wrong channel – there is nothing wrong with just a little bit of challenge.
  • Drawing my focus to the positive.
  • Realising that nothing happens in isolation.
  • Remembering that no matter how bad my problems are there is always someone out there just wishing they had my life. i.e. be grateful.
  • To listen to the people who challenge me – perhaps there is something I can learn about myself.
  • To avoid posting anything on social media that I wouldn’t otherwise say directly to the person it’s intended towards (even if it’s cleverly disguised as an inspiring affirmation towards humanity).
  • Everyone, EVERYONE makes mistakes and they are opportunities to learn.
  • It’s a bit hard to enable change if everyone talks behind closed doors. Start the conversation.
  • Parenting requires a whole community – it’s bloody hard and so much easier when we all raise one another upward.
  • Great adults evolve from kids who grow up feeling supported and nurtured.
  • Awesome adults are capable of sorting out their own issues because they have been allowed to make mistakes – and held to account as they sorted them out.
  • I embrace my daughters and son for everything that they are, will be and can be. I understand that I will not like every little bit of this. My role is to nurture the good and educate about the bad, not to blame everyone else around me for the existence of the things I do not like in my child.
  • When I see a characteristic in my children that I do not respond well to (and I know this will happen) I take a deep look into myself and ask – what is it in me that is being reflected right now? What self-work do I need to undertake? When am I going to start?

I commit myself to action that is positive, even when it involves a difficult conversation. My practice hasn’t always been perfect and there have been mistakes along the way but by and large it’s been a practice that works. After all, I think we are all trying to lead our best life, so how about we do it together.

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