Not long ago, I was lucky enough to be part of a committee to interview and help select a new principal for my son’s elementary school. It was a very eye-opening and interesting experience. The superintendent and his administrative committee had narrowed down the field to three prospective candidates. The word got out that all three potential new principals were women. To me, this was not a big deal. As a matter of fact, I didn’t give it much thought.
Imagine my surprise when people would come up to me at my sons’ baseball games, in the grocery store, in the carpool lane to ask me how I felt about the fact that all the new principal candidates were women.
“Um, well… I’m happy?” I would answer. I wasn’t sure what they wanted from me. I didn’t know what they wanted me to say.
All the candidates were capable, smart, and very qualified. It just so happened, the one I wanted the most got the job. She’s a tremendous principal, person, and leader. The children at our school are lucky to have her.
During and after the principal search, I was shocked that so many women told me they were “apprehensive” about having a woman principal. Would she be able to handle the tough parents? Could she deal with the unruly kids? Would she be too emotional? What kind of a boss would she be?
I still wonder why I didn’t have more women telling me how great it was that the school district administrative team had found three excellent female candidates for us to interview. I still can’t understand why there weren’t more women happy and excited that one of “us” was moving up and forward in life and taking a leadership position at our local elementary school.
As women, shouldn’t it be one of our jobs to cheer for, embrace, be proud of, and support other women?
Why do stay-at-home moms sometimes bash working mothers and vice versa? Why do we judge others’ parenting skills when we all know none of us are perfect?
I like to give compliments. If I like something, I just blurt out the praise. I’ve always been this way, and I think it’s one of the reasons people sometimes find me strange. There have been countless times when I’ve noticed a woman wearing a great skirt or blouse and walked up to her to tell her how nice she looks. I’m always surprised when the majority of these women look at me like I have three heads after I compliment their wardrobes. To their credit, after their initial look of shock, they usually come around and are quite pleased that a stranger off the street has bothered to take the time to notice their new shoes, or whatever it is I happen to like that day.
I’ve asked strangers where they get their hair cut because I want mine to look as good. I’ve told other women that I love their coats, that the color they’re wearing is flattering, and I’ve even stopped other mothers to tell them that their children are well-behaved and polite. My most favorite thing to do is to tell as many little girls at my son’s school how much I like their outfits or their sparkly shoes. I love the looks on their little faces when they realize someone other than their own mother has noticed how carefully they’ve chosen their clothing for that particular day.
Now don’t get me wrong- I am certainly not a saint. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve been judgmental, I’ve been catty, and I’ve probably judged some other mother while her kid was screaming in Target. But lately I’ve decided to try to do better. We all need to do better.
I have several women friends and they are all tremendous, smart, funny, and beautiful people. Now that I’m in my mid-forties, I think I value those friendships more than I ever have before. I am absolutely delighted when one of my women friends gets a new kitchen remodel, gets promoted at work, loses those last few pounds she’s been trying to lose for months, or gets to go on a terrific and fancy vacation. I realize that I shouldn’t just feel happy for my friends who find good fortune, I should be happy for every woman who finds it.
It’s ridiculous that we still live in a world where women aren’t paid as well as men for doing the same job. It’s appalling that we live in a world where women are put to death when they “bring shame” to their families. It’s sickening that our world looks the other way when our young girls are not given the same educational opportunities given to their male counterparts. It’s mortifying that a beautiful and strong Pakistani girl is shot in the head because she speaks out for equal rights for women and girls all over the world.
It starts at home. It starts from the beginning. Let’s start teaching our girls how much they’re worth. Let’s tell them they are not only beautiful but SMART; as smart as any boy they know. Let’s tell them they are strong, powerful, wise, and that they matter. Let’s tell them all those things, and then let’s show them we BELIEVE all those things. Let’s teach our girls to respect themselves and respect and support each other.
I’m always surprised to hear from my friends who have girls of their own how early the bullying and humiliation starts. My niece was in kindergarten when she was told by another little girl that she wasn’t very pretty and her dresses were ugly.
We all need to do better. As women, we need to be better examples for our young girls to follow. Ladies, go out there and tell a frazzled mom she’s doing a great job. Tell your friend who’s trying to lose weight that she’s looking good. Give a shout out to the volunteer mom who shows up at every school event, and praise the working mom who is helping to support her family and who may not be able to volunteer as much as she would like.
I cannot wait for the day when we get to see the first woman President of the United States. I have no idea who she will be, when she will run, or to what political party she will belong, and I don’t care.
Can she handle the unruly party opposition?
Will she be able to control her emotions?
Is she smart enough?
Does she believe she can?
She could be your daughter, your niece, your best friend, your mother. Go out there and wish her the best, support her, and believe in her. After all, if we don’t support each other as women, who else is going to do it for us?