My oldest daughter and I were out and about the other day and she was excitedly talking to a stranger and I almost stopped her.
I caught myself mid sentence about to say something that was coming from that automatic place of my brain. That part of my brain that operates from old memories, habits and beliefs that get ingrained at a young age.
Not an intentional response in the least.
But I didn't I let her SHOUT IT OUT GIRL!
Harlow lost her tooth. Now this is a big fucking deal at our house. And an even bigger deal to her.
When she found out her tooth was loose her eyes got even larger than their caricature size and she let out a shrill of excitement as she leapt off the couch like a graceful cat. (And if you know Harlow you know that me putting the word grace even close to her name is a feat).
She had a lot of fear about the possibility of pain.
For nearly three weeks that wiggly tooth remained wiggly. I tried to wiggle it for her and sometimes she let me. She had a lot of fear about the possibility of pain. But the idea of losing that tooth had stars in her eyes. Over those three weeks many mornings she would wake up and exclaim to me the dream she had just awoken from where she had lost that tooth.
I asked her if she would like to pull it now and everytime her answer was "no mama, maybe tomorrow".
And then she was ready.
She courageously agreed to let me push a bit harder on her tooth and voila it came out. She was thrilled. Every nerve in her body electrified with pride and joy.
"Mom I'm so big! It didn't even hurt! Can you believe it!?! I was so brave.”
Yes you were baby girl, you took your time and were brave when you were ready.
When she went out into the world she wanted to tell everyone! I mean EVERYONE that she lost a tooth. So when I heard her begin to exclaim to this woman at the store about her lost tooth I instinctively began to hush her.
I almost stopped her.
Grabbing her arm as a gesture like "they don't want to know that" or "we don't celebrate our wins outside of this house". I had this subconscious fear for her that she would be let down if this stranger didn't share in her excitement. In her own achievement.
Because as women we are taught at a young age that women are "catty". That celebrating yourself for an achievement is bragging and bragging is bad. That exclaiming with enthusiasm a feat of courage or recent accomplishment is often times met with jealousy, judgement or indifference.
That exclaiming with enthusiasm a feat of courage or recent accomplishment is often times met with jealousy, judgement or indifference.
But I caught myself and I let her tell her story. I shared in her enthusiasm and exclaimed to this stranger how elated we all were about this.
It became this learning moment or rather unlearning moment for me; of how deeply ingrained it is for most women to hold back from celebrating herself openly for fear of the response from other women. That if we shine bright and shout at the rooftops all the ways we are killing it in the world that somehow we are hurting or taking away from our sister friends. That our bigness is at the cost of someone else’s smallness.
What if me celebrating your greatness allow my greatness to shine more?
Really though, I have found the opposite to be true. As I engage in celebrating all of the women around me I get bigger, my light shines brighter.
The days of staying small out of fear of making others around me feel more comfortable are fading fast. I am learning how to be unapologetic in embracing and celebrating myself.
I decided to create a group, a sisterhood . . .
So I decided to create a group, a sisterhood, where we can do just that. Learn how to embrace ourselves fully, the good the bad and every single delicious inch between. Where we unabashedly celebrate ourselves and UPLIFT the women around us. A place that is about the support of community of other women with the safety of expressing vulnerability without fear of judgement. When we do have those moments when we are so fucking proud, a place where we can . . .
Shout it out!!!!
On the car ride home I asked Harlow what she had done when her friend lost a tooth? She said she didn't say much, that she thought maybe she was quiet because she also wanted to lose a tooth. So we chatted about how next time one of her friends were excited about something, like really excited how she could remember how nice it feels to have a friend recognize and share in that excitement.
Because that is true sisterhood.