I recently had brunch with girl friends. We drank mimosas, sat outside under the trees, laughed, and celebrated just being in each other’s presence again. It was deeply nourishing and satisfying. And more than that there were some refreshing and honest conversations. One began, “I don’t know how you women with children are still married because if I have to clean up cat vomit off our new carpet one more time while I listen to my partner snore, so help me!” Another began, “I’m just going to say that it was awful because I find that if I don’t we’ll just have these conversations about how brilliant and lovely our children are and we’ll start by lying to others and end up lying to ourselves.” And let me just say that statements were so freeing. They were the balm my weary soul required.
The bold honesty of my fellow women just opened me up, cracked and jostled the persona just enough so that we could really talk. We could have those deep dark conversations about what it has been like to be human and alive throughout this pandemic. It has not been good. And it has been hard and there is a lot of bitterness that we feel guilty expressing or sharing because everyone else seems to be living this idyllic existence. We presume others caught up on their reading lists, home schooled their children, and reconnected with their spouses throughout this global pandemic.
We know that reality is shaped differently. We know know this because we see it in our own homes, and yet, for some reason we suspect that this pandemic has been easier for others. Easier for those without children. Easier for those with more resources or those who planned ahead and booked vacations, or those who hired nanny’s, or sent their children to private schools where in-person classes never stopped. Easier for parents who were both working throughout the pandemic. Easier for those who’s parents did not live with them. Easier for those who had groceries delivered. The thing of it is that none of this pandemic was easy for any of us. We collectively have suffered, endured, and lost a lot. And just taking a minute at a table surrounded by compatriots and battle weary gladiators, it felt good to see and be seen.
It felt good to admit our shortcomings and confess our fears and challenges. It felt good to embrace the chaos and own the reality instead of pretending that the illusion is real. We got to take off our masks and reveal our weaknesses to one another and we all felt better for it because then we could laugh. We shared what we could, we kept it light. But we also kept it honest. We gave of ourselves, our hearts, and our humor. We laughed big and hard and the women brunching at tables near ours commented on how jealous they were not to be included in the conversation.
What a gift to be at the table. What an honor to be surrounded by brave and proud warriors. What a joy to know that I am not alone in my failings. Each of those women gave me hope and comfort and a shelter from the storm of reality. We could admit our weaknesses and we could build each other up. We could forge new bonds and rekindle connections. We could be our most authentic selves and be celebrated for it, not ridiculed or shamed for not portraying the perfect image the world wants. What I celebrate is an act of tyranny. A rejection of the illusion that we are all perfect, that we are taking all of the garbage the world throws at us and making it into homemade dinners and family game nights. We are parking our children in front of screens and baking frozen pizzas so that we can sit silently in the same rooms as our partners scrolling on our phones because that is all we can manage and that is enough. We are all just doing our best and we are enough.