Sunday, May 24, 2015

Female Friendships: Ovaries Before Brovaries

As I'm winding down this 35-year career in education, I keep thinking about all of the things that have shaped me into the person I am. I'm not talking about the rather round shape I have from sitting at the computer for hours while editing countless yearbooks, sitting at a desk while grading papers, or just sitting. I'm talking about the people who have shaped me. Many people have come and gone during those years -- students, colleagues, husbands -- but one of the strongest influences is the women with whom I have worked.

I've always wondered about this female relationship thing. Why is it that we women feel the need to join quilting circles, go to Tupperware parties, have girls’ nights out, etc.? Why, in some cultures, do women willingly live in communal housing away from men? My husband has an idea about why men prefer it that way, but I won't go into that now. 

My answer is that women need women. We need to share the births of our children with someone who truly knows the pain and joy only a woman can feel. We need a woman who knows the pain that those children cause us when they grow up and make such devastating mistakes. We need someone who understands that when we bitch about our spouses, we still love him. We need someone who will be on our side no matter what because she knows we will be on hers.

Most of all, we need someone who will laugh with us or even laugh at us. I found out early in life that laughter can get me through really tough times, so I’m always looking for something to laugh about.

This laughter binds us, gives us stories to share at later times that will make us remember those quick hall visits and make us laugh all over. It makes us forget about our failures in the classroom, about the God-awful evaluations by administration, or about this one kid who may drive us to drink (See Previous Post).

I’m really fortunate to have worked with some amazing women who have been an integral part of my life, even though we are together for such a short time each work day and are very rarely together away from work. During the work day, we gather for quick stories during the six minutes between classes, share lunch when we can, and at the end of the day, we catch up on the day’s interesting events or better yet, the gossip one of us heard that day. At each of these quick meetings, we usually find a funny tale, often about something a student has done, to share.

These women share my hall at work, and most of the time, this is what we look like when we are supposed to be monitoring the students in the hallway. 

I’m going to miss these remarkable women who work tirelessly to stamp out ignorance, to enlighten the masses, and to motivate those who are seemingly unable to be motivated. The relationship I have with them, and with all of the women with whom I have worked, is unlike any other friend relationship I've experienced.

I guess I’ll have to learn to quilt or start selling Tupperware.