By Jen Wittes
Well, it’s International Women’s Friendship Month. Because it is our business, our mission, and our passion to facilitate true support for women by women, it seems appropriate to spotlight the importance of a good girlfriend.
Truth be told, women are complicated. Our friendships are vital yet difficult—sullied with gossip and jealousy while simultaneously illuminated with laughter and sisterhood.
With some women we feel judged. With others…drained.
Of course, there are the few rare glow fairies. Women who disappear into the texture of their own busy lives for three weeks or so, reappearing as if no time has passed. They are as familiar as our own pulse, and as necessary to our vitality. The need for a moment with a friend like this comes on suddenly—as if some sort of alarm has gone off, announcing the time for cheap wine, good coffee, conversation, or cupcakes…and always, her smiling face. Tick tock. It’s been too long.
Your doulas will of course encourage you to surround yourself with the relationships that fill you up rather than suck you dry. Sometimes that’s just a matter of chemistry. Make your closest friends the ones who are just right for you.
And what of your doula? It’s perfectly natural to crave a real friendship with the woman who saw you through the stickiest, weepiest, most fumbling and bumbling days (and nights) of your life. She knows. And, in your eyes, she is perfect. She has learned how to have children and also brush her hair. She listens to your every concern. She also listens to your seemingly brilliant, lightning bolt moments of sleep-deprived rambling discovery. She doesn’t ask anything in return. She knows when to break the blues with a joke and she knows when to back off. She does the laundry, for crying out loud. She quietly places—on the bedside table—the hot cup of tea you didn’t even know you wanted.
As doulas, we want to be your friends too. We have given ourselves wholly to your cause and we have been humbled by our admittance into your family circle. We have wandered your halls late at night with your most prized possession draped over our shoulder—hush hush hushing that little bundle while you sleep peacefully, honoring us with your complete trust.
But a good doula knows that for you to move into true independence, you must be able to let go—at least for the time being. In a way your postpartum doula is more than a friend and in order to keep the sort of sacred, objective, and successful nature of that relationship, we can’t be a real girlfriend. Not like Carly down the street who sometimes makes you a margarita at noon and then entertains you with tales of what she and the hubby did in the bedroom the night before.
Your doula has her own tales to tell, don’t you worry. But let’s be honest. You don’t want to hear them. That’s not what this relationship is about. It’s best that she remain angelic, superhuman, magical, and—sure, I’ll say it—perfect.
That said, in honor of Women’s Friendship Month, we’d like to encourage you to evoke your inner doula. At least every once in a while…
Listen intently. Listen as if it’s your job. See her. Tell her she’s beautiful. Tell her she’s amazing. Tell her she’s a good mom. Make her laugh. Make her tea. Do her laundry. And sure, since she is your girlfriend, throw in a margarita for good measure.