Surely you’ve heard, today marks 20 years since The Spice Girls released Wannabe. TWENTY YEARS. Give me a wave if that makes you feel old (*insert devastated emoticon*).
I was 11 years old, and the “girl power” message was strong throughout my early teens. In the years since, it’s been socially acceptable to gently mock this punchy motto. Like many things that captivate young people via popular culture, in hindsight, and combined with the platform shoes and the zig-a-zig-ah (spelling?!) it has seemed as cheesy as it gets. Perhaps we’ve considered it childish too, as we have grown up and moved on.
But it turns out, as we grow up, as many of us depart from our home towns, and particularly as we embark on motherhood, we need that message more than ever.
Not for the right to wear crotch skimming dresses without judgement, or to highlight a thin strip of hair either side of our faces, but for the right to SURVIVE.
There’s been a real resurgence in the online community (read “instamums”) of a focus on women supporting women. You’ll find #mamagang #girlgang #mamatribe #mamasquad everywhere you look- a 2016 take on girl power, led by the mothers who saw it through the eyes of little girls first time round.
We need each other. In my experience. It’s when you find your #soulsisters that you realise how lost you were without them.
When Louis was born 3 years ago, I was a bit lacking in girl power. I had 3 super women I could really lean on, but it wasn’t enough.
I had my amazing Mum, always emotionally present, often on the scene giving practical and loving support, above and beyond what I could have hoped for, but working full time and living 3hrs away with my grandad to care for too. My sister was a big help, and very supportive, but she was 22, and although we are really close, she was young, free and single, blissfully unable to comprehend the magnitude of motherhood. My incredible best friend had a son a year older than mine. Louis’s arrival made me realise how utterly useless I had been to her. And- she had been doing this alone- she remains my hero, a legend amongst mothers. How could I moan to her about the exhaustion of motherhood when I’d near enough ignored her plight for a year. She will read this and remind me, again, that I didn’t know, I had no idea, how could I? She is gracious like that, so I love her even more. She also lives hours away. Geography is a f*cker.
“What more do you want?!” I hear you cry. “Don’t be so ungrateful for the support you had.” In truth, I know it’s more than many women get. And I’m over simplifying things- I have lots of other wonderful gal pals, but their lives were in different places. 1, 2, even 3 fantastic females who get it are not enough. We each need a full on girl gang. A group of women at various stages of the journey through motherhood, to inspire us, challenge us, lift us up and send us to lay down.
Women to tell us to follow our instincts, that we are doing a great job, that they’ve been there too, that they can learn from us, that the guilt is normal, but unnecessary, that it won’t be forever, that we can do more, or less as we need to, that we are nailing this, even on the days we’ve not managed to shower, and have eaten our baby’s weight in chocolate. This is girl power.
And this time round, I have it in bucket loads. I’ve met and connected with so many wonder women, largely as colleagues and as clients, some in this real life world, others online. How brilliant to have a job that delivers to you fab friends. The love and encouragement I received from these women throughout my pregnancy and postnatal period blew me away. I am truly fricking blessed. So much girl power coming my way, I am sweating the stuff…
And the difference it’s made is phenomenal. I am calmer, happier, more in control, more able to care for my children. My self esteem is higher, there is less guilt, and I know that everything I feel is, well, normal, because the breadth of experiences happily shared by my mama gang tell me so.
This is why I’ve made it my business to create this sense of community amongst my clients. Our online space has been coming alive over recent months, and our most recent meet up had my home bursting at the seams. We are a growing #girlgang #mamagang #mamatribe bouncing the #girlpower around like we were born to do it. We were.
Sound good? Do you remember that sense of kin shared with the other girl with a few strands of hair in tiny pigtails on top of her head? Revive that sense of sisterhood.
Girl power is back.
Disclaimer: platform shoes optional at all courses and meet ups. Spice name required. Not really.