A FEW weeks ago, I was blatantly ignored by a group of women.
I smiled, said hello and looked around the room, waiting for a group of women, whom I didn’t know, to respond.
But nothing came. (Talk about awkward.)
For a second or two, I thought perhaps they haven’t heard me or that someone, anyone, in the crowded room would shoot me a friendly smile any time soon.
But they had.
And no one did.
I am 36 and yet for a couple of minutes, it was like I’d travelled back in time and was stood, as my five year old self, in the school playground.
It was a bit odd to be honest, being ignored by a group of women and also very disconcerting. Because this hasn’t happened to me for a very long time.
And I’d forgotten.
I’d forgotten just how unwelcoming and unfriendly, some women (not all) can be when they’re altogether in a group. It came as quite a shock.
In this group, we all have something in common in that we are all mums.
All mums, just getting on with ours days, taking our daughters to dance class and waiting for them patiently outside.
All mums, just wondering how our girls are getting on as they tackle basic ballet steps and dance around to ‘that’ song from Frozen.
All mums, just trying to enjoy the thirty or so minutes of relative peace we have whilst we mentally figure out what’s for tea, what Christmas shopping still needs to be done and if we’ll get any decent sleep that night.
All mums. All in the same boat. All with similar problems and similar days.
So why did I feel like I’d entered hostile waters?
In contrast to the frostiness I’d encountered, Elsie settled into her new dance class brilliantly, with the group of young girls all welcoming her into their fold and looking after their new ‘friend’.
But could a group of young girls, aged just three to five years, actually be kinder and more welcoming to a newcomer, than their much older, much wiser Mums?!
Surely not, right?
With their behaviour baffling me, I hopped onto social media and asked women to share any similar frosty encounters they may have experienced over the years.
I expected to receive a couple of similar stories. I expected some women to have gone through it recently.
But I hadn’t expected such a big response.
As I read comment after comment, each woman in turn talking about the time they were shunned by a group of female strangers, quite frankly, I was a little lost for words.
There was a woman who said she was ignored, all the time, by groups of women.
There was my friend who’d been treated so appallingly by a group of female strangers at a blogging conference, that she’d actually burst into tears.
There was my mother in law who said she can remember encountering it at the school gates, as a mum to young children.
And on and on the stories came.
Let me tell you, if you’re sat there thinking we’ve got this sisterhood shiz down to a tee, then you are mistaken.
There’s a whole mountain range of stuff we still need to get sorted, and pronto, if we want to be happier, calmer, stronger and more confident.
Because until all women can reach out their hands to female strangers and feel comfortable welcoming a woman into a group, the sisterhood will continue to lack strength.
How can it not?
Elsie, at three years of age makes friends easily and often talks about her new ‘best friend’ or a new little girl who has joined nursery whom she has played with that day. She views little girls as new friends to be made, not new enemies to make or little people to be fearful of.
But how many of us, grown up women, can honestly, hand on heart say the same?
I have no idea why this group of women were so frosty to me.
Perhaps they thought I was being frosty towards them. Perhaps they didn’t like the look of me. Perhaps they were just damn right miffed that their group dynamics were now going to have to adjust.
But I do know this.
It can’t hurt for all of us – myself included – to be more mindful of how we treat the newcomer.
The first time mum struggling with her newborn who’s desperate for a friendly, supportive ear. The new woman in the office who’s terrified at the thought of starting her dream job. The grandma who’s dropping her grandchild off at school and doesn’t know a soul.
It can’t hurt, can it? For us all to be a little kinder, to make sure we catch someone’s eye and give them a smile or to extend a friendly hand.
To welcome them into our group.
Because let’s face it, with all the s**t women have to put up with, we damn well need each other.
Sure we’re never going to like every woman we come across. Sure we’re going to fall out with people. Sure, not everyone will like me or want to be my new ‘best friend’.
But we’ve got to give each other a chance.
We’ve got to try and break the ice.
Years ago, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, asked the world to ‘give peace a chance’. And today, I ask you… isn’t it about time we gave all women the same?