This morning my coworker walked into our shared classroom and instead of greeting me with her usual bubbly “Hey Lindsay!” she looked forlorn and sad. I asked her what was wrong and she replied: “I don’t really know, but I can’t stop crying.”
Normally I would have pried for details and scrambled to find the words to say in order to comfort her. Instead I just nodded my head and told her, “I get it. It’s all too much.”
See, a few weeks ago I had a tear-filled morning myself. And boy oh boy did those tears surprise me. Once I realized they weren’t going to stop, I surrendered to them and let myself feel and release.
Let The Tears Flow
It started when I showed up to my annual gynecologist appointment, and to my total shock and dismay, was turned away because I had my three year-old with me. I stood there facing the receptionist, gaping at her like she had just told me the sky was caving in. I was floored. “Why can’t she be here with me?” I asked her, although I already knew the answer.
“Because of Covid?” I continued.
“Yes,” she said, a little annoyed. “No children allowed. Do you not have someone to watch her?”
No! And why should I? She’s my daughter, an extension of me. She goes where I go. She was delivered here!
I said none of that. Instead I broke down into tears right there in front of the receptionists and a pregnant lady who looked visibly uncomfortable. Rage and frustration and deep disappointment welled up inside me. I managed to mutter a few words: “But this is a woman’s facility and this is my daughter and can’t she just sit right over there and watch a show? I have already rescheduled this appointment once before…” But I knew it was no use. She would make no exceptions.
I walked out of that place like a puppy with its tail between its legs, shaking, tears streaming down my cheeks, in shock at what had just occurred. Totally overwhelmed, I could not stop my tears. I felt so many things in that moment: irritated that I didn’t do a better job advocating for myself. Annoyed that such rigid and ridiculous restrictions were still in place after all this time. Mad that a fellow woman didn’t have my back and that an actual woman’s facility wasn’t protecting the women and children it claimed to care for.
I cried the whole way home. I think some part of me was very aware that this was so much bigger than being turned away from my doctor appointment. But it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Not Just About Me
To my surprise, I cried for a long time after. I found out that my sister had to put her dog down later that day and I cried for her. I listened to my other sister talk about her struggles with her daughter and the inevitable mom guilt she was feeling, and I cried for her too. It became clear that my tears weren’t just about me and them. I was crying for anyone who’s ever had to say goodbye to a pet (including me, two years ago)…for all struggling moms…for any woman who has ever been turned away when all she needed was for someone to see her distress and be her advocate. To say to her, “I’m so sorry, I get it. It’s all too much. Let’s make an exception for you today.”
So, yeah. My coworker didn’t have to explain anything to me this morning. Because I knew.
A Type of Woman
I know what it’s like to be strong strong strong for days, weeks, months on end and then to just release it in one go because the strength has all but dissolved and the tears have nowhere else to go but out. Our bodies and minds have a sure way of telling us when they’ve had enough.
I know what it’s like to attend to so many others besides yourself. Students, extended family, children, husband, friends. To put your heart and soul into everything you do because you’re a woman who cares, who has high expectations for yourself and the people in your life. This type of woman works hard, overthinks a lot of the time, and sometimes wonders what it’s all for, if any of it is worth it. My coworker is this type of woman. I am this type of woman. Most of us are this type of woman.
And this type of woman doesn’t need to be overlooked, unappreciated, turned away or pitied. She just needs support. Because truly, sometimes it’s all a little too much.
Finding Our Way
My parents just left on an 18 month church mission. My mom, one of my best friends and a crucial member of my “village”, will not be around for the next year and 1/2 to go on walks with me, take my oldest daughter shopping, let my youngest nap at her house while I run errands, or spontaneously drop off a loaf of freshly baked banana bread to me while in the midst of chaotic mom life. I have not yet let myself grieve this.
Meanwhile, my nine year-old is growing and changing right before my eyes. I’m exhausted running her around to her various activities and trying to meet her emotional needs while also being there for my other two kiddos. I don’t know what I’m doing most days but just praying daily that I’m not screwing things up. Sometimes I just want to throw in the towel.
I have also been undergoing a serious faith overhaul for the past year that leaves me with more questions than answers, more angst than peace, and so much disillusionment that I often just feel like walking away from it all.
Despite all of this, I’m still here. I still put my feet on the floor every morning and try to make the best of a new day. I often have to be intentional about looking for the good and not dwelling on the things that threaten to crush me: sadness, disappointment, confusion, exhaustion, anger, stress, guilt.
And I know you are too. You, reader, are showing up for your life despite its heaviness. I know sometimes you feel like it’s all too much, too.
I don’t really have advice or answers. But I do extend my love and support. I vow to be the type of woman who listens to your stories, brings you soup when you’re sick, watches your kid when you need a break, cries for you, stands up for you. I’m willing to bet you’re that type of woman, too.
Promise each other we will keep showing up, but that we will also give ourselves grace upon grace upon grace.
That we will let ourselves grieve, be angry, cry, FEEL. IT. ALL.
That we will give ourselves permission to sloooooooow way down when we need to, change focus, let go of something no longer serving us, lean in, ask for help, go to bed early, do something nice for ourselves, eat the whole pint in one sitting, be angry, not have answers.
Lastly, promise that we will support each other. Next time you see a woman in distress, let her know you care and that you have her back. And even though I might not know you personally, please know that I have yours.
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YES. YES! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼
Thanks for writing this Linds!
I promise to keep showing up girlfriends. Tears running down my face! Thank you 💗💗💗
Awesome piece. Thank you, Lindsay!!
WOW! This is so powerfully articulated! Thank You for “Voicing” on behalf of everyone!