A decade ago, I stumbled into what felt like a parallel universe. I was in grad school at the time, spending countless hours at Bobst library, basically undergoing an intellectual bootcamp. Academic life is as linear as it gets, and even though I had been happy to jump through all the hoops I had needed to jump through to get into that program, I was a few months in and already feeling pretty tapped out.
And then, I got the email that changed my life.
It was an invitation to an “inspired movement” class, a 4-week series that would meet every Sunday. There was something in the language of the email that beckoned me to partake. Without giving it too much thought, I signed up.
The class turned out to be everything my life was not at that point in time: it was fluid, intuitive, and all the movements we did were in an effort to follow whatever felt good. If the movement felt good, then we were doing it right.
Beyond this physical encounter with fluid movement, I was exposed to something equally out-of-the-ordinary. It’s that parallel universe I referred to earlier: I was suddenly surrounded by women who were quite literally fawning over each other. There was an air of excitement, joy, playfulness, familiarity and ease amongst them. It was my first taste of sisterhood.
Meeting these women, and moving my body in ways I hadn’t before, completely rerouted my GPS. They all raved about the School of Womanly Arts, only to learn that this school, which was NYC-based, was opening its doors to its yearly program in less than a month. I used my NYU scholarship stipend to pay for it, and even though the last thing I needed was more schooling, I enrolled in Mastery and would effectively never look back.
I was recently on a call with another mama, and she was lamenting over the lack of close of mom friends she has within reach. I could feel her longing, and her desire to be surrounded by like-minded mamas to ride through this wild ride that is motherhood. More than that, a need for friendships with people who share similar ways of parenting.
As I listened to her and what she longed for in her life, I became more awake to the presence of sisterhood in my own day-to-day. I am amazed and proud of the relationships I’ve cultivated with other mamas since setting roots down in Turners Falls. Initially, I was drawn by their parenting and overall life styles. I feel like I have been winging this whole parenting thing from the get go, intuitively moving through it, but also looking around at what other mamas where doing and how they were doing it. And organically, this is how I gravitated toward the women who are now the closest to my heart.
There are four of us: fierce mamas, best friends, partners in crime. And there are six of them: four toddlers and two babies. I get teary eyed when I think about all the holidays we’ve spent together; the time I pulled through with their help when my kiddo broke his leg and wore a spica cast for five weeks; all the hours spent around food and children running wild and free. They are the ones with whom I leave my kid with last minute, and often when I’m in a tight jam (and vice versa). We help each other raise each other’s children, mainly and primarily because our parenting styles vibe.
This all flashed before my eyes as my friend shared just how lonely she felt in her mothering journey. And in that instant, I was able to re-frame my entire single-momhood experience.
Thing is, I’ve been wallowing in some kind of self-pity these last few years. I have wasted many precious hours on dating apps, or being set up by my friends, searching for my next love. Just the other night, I curled up in bed with a bag of popcorn, perfectly aware that I had chosen to eat handfuls of the stuff in an effort to satiate that giant loneliness I felt inside. The next morning, I commented this to a woman I was on a retreat with: I shared with her just how lonely I had felt, just how incredibly lonely it feels sometimes. And as I shared this, it hit me.
While it’s true that these last few years I have lacked a thriving social life and a loving partnership, I realize that I’ve been busy nourishing some of the most important relationships of my life. In focusing so hard on what I was lacking, I had forgone fully appreciating the women in my life who nourish me in countless ways. Together, we’ve created a safe container each other and for the children, and we have loved each other in ways that have filled my cup to the brim.
It’s in these moments of reflection that I smile at the investment I made when I attended the School of Womanly Arts. This experience has given me a whole new outlook on the possibilities that can exist when women love, appreciate and support one another. I grew up being told to never trust other women, to value marriage above all else. Opening up to sisterhood, and prioritizing it, has shown me that there truly is no other way to fully thrive in this world.