My mom recently had a birthday, so she, my sister, and I gathered for a weekend to celebrate. Truth be told, a birthday was really just a good excuse to put it on the calendar: we had been talking about doing a girls’ weekend for quite some time. I am the first to admit that my husband is my very best friend in the world, and my hunch is that my mom and sis would say the same of theirs. But as happily married as we are, there is just no substitution for a trust-based, long lasting relationship with other women.
We did all the cliché girls’ weekend things: antique shopping, manicures, massages, watching HGTV, and eating ice cream before dinner. Most of those are things that I do, well, almost never. But there is something about gathering together that brings out all the bells and whistles. I realize that not every woman enjoys the kinds of activities I just listed, they are just things we all happen to like and so worked out for us. Intentional time spent with other women surely looks very different for others: the activities don’t matter, but the time and conversations do.
I haven’t always felt that way. As a teenager, friendships with other females didn’t come so naturally to me. I had my mom and sister, but we didn’t often go out of our way to plan intentional times together. Luckily, I had one close female friendship that I maintained throughout junior high and high school and I benefitted a lot from her support and advice. But other than that, I found myself gravitating more toward boys. They always seemed to bring less drama, and maybe part of me was relieved to not feel like I was competing with them too.
But when I was in college, a group of girls from my church truly became my support system. I’m so thankful for that time because it proved to me that girlfriends could be irreplaceable when it comes to listening and providing emotional encouragement. And as I entered married life and eventually motherhood, I have found tremendous help in the camaraderie of other women in those areas as well. Rather than drowning in the feeling of “no one understands!”, my female friendships have allowed me to feel strengthened and supported in the midst of my trials. Even if they’ve never been through anything like what I’m describing, it means the world for them to sit and listen without judgment or condemnation.
Can you have healthy female friendships without making specific times to get together? I’m sure you can, but why would you want to? Blocking off “girl time”, whether for a night or a weekend, is a way to ensure that you will get a chance to decompress, to vent frustrations and seek advice. If you don’t make specific time to do that, it might never happen. Our families and jobs can do without us for just a little while; nurturing female friendships is an important part of the self-care that keeps us going and healthy, and that’s a good thing for everyone.