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We had dinner at our neighbor’s house last night. While our kids played with theirs, their mom walked in the door from work, “Sorry I’m late! We ran two hours behind with patients all day.” She smiled and picked up her 9-month-old out of his walker, he had just started to fuss.

She was still in her scrubs but was smiling in anticipation of picking her drooling, chunky boy up. She set him on her hip and walked over to her stove, stirring the pot on the burner while asking her older child how his day had been.

I sat back in wonder at her impeccable multi-tasking. She looked energized and excited to be home even though I know her work day started at 7:15 a.m., and she had to be feeling exhausted by now, but her next shift (as a mom) was just beginning.

She’s doing it all, and she’s doing it happily, I thought to myself.

Later that night after I was home and everyone was in bed, I thought about how effortless she made it look. I wished I would have told her my thoughts of admiration, which led me down a rabbit hole of amazement about what the women in my life endure.

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I have a coworker who recently moved across the country and left a job she loved and a supportive community her children had grown up in because her husband was transferred to a military base across the country. She must have been so scared to leave.

The momma who wrestled through an undiagnosed case of postpartum depression on her own, only to tell me about it after she had recovered. We could have lost her.

A college classmate who is now in a successful punk rock band that tours the world, who told me over coffee last week that though she’s always thought she would have children, she wouldn’t want to bring them into her crazy life on the road.

She’s given up one dream, to chase another.

My high school friend whose husband is a state trooper and works the late shift. She’s probably laying in bed tonight hoping her husband walks through the door in the morning. I bet she misses him.

The friends (sadly, plural) who have experienced recurrent pregnancy loss, unexplained infertility, unsuccessful IVF, and life-changing genetic disease diagnoses. How are they not consumed by feelings that life isn’t fair? How do they refrain from being bitter when their cousin is about to deliver her fourth child when they can’t have their first?

My colleague whose husband wanted to open a restaurant. She has stood steadfastly beside him through his 90-hour work weeks, business trips, and unknown future financial successunselfishly supporting his lifelong dream.

My friend who has faced infidelity in her marriage. Is she supposed to trust again?

A coworker who works three jobs in order to raise her daughter by herself because the father was addicted to drugs and alcohol and she knew she had to walk.

My friend who lost her fiery, spunky 3-year-old boy in a freak accident six months ago. She’s about to face her first Christmas without her beloved firstborn, and she’s hands down the strongest person I know. She is courage in the face of something that would break most.

These girls are amazing. They are fearless and righteous.

They are driven and nurturing, and I am so here for what they are fighting for.

They get through this stuff because the love they have is stronger than anything else. They give every single ounce, every minute of every day—and then they wake up (in time to get the kids to school, no less) to do it all over again.

They try and they fail, but then they try again because they refuse to let anything stand in the way of their dreams, but also because their kids are watching and they refuse to let them see Mommy give up. They choose to keep their head down and to stay up till midnight. They choose not to have that argument, spend that money, take that vacation. They put themselves last, every time.

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I want to yell from the rooftop about how awe-inspiring these women are, but amazingly, they aren’t unique. They are everywhere, giving their all to everyone but themselves. Look at the women in your life, they are climbing these same mountains.

They likely have no idea how motivated you are by watching them.

How much you admire their tenacity when it would be so much easier to quit. How you wish you could take their pain away when they are going through it. How you love their ability to throw together a dinner using spaghetti noodles, frozen peas, hot dogs, and ranch dressing. How you will be there for them on their dark days, with zero questions asked.

Tell them. Please tell them. They don’t hear it enough.

For me, these women are the standard I hold myself to. They are the support beams that hold me up when I’m on the verge of collapse. These women are my village, my people, and they encourage my soul in a way that makes me want to do better, to make them proud. They are you, and they are me, and they are all of us together, which is so much more powerful than any of us alone.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Andrea Nalls

Andrea Gallagher Nalls has published and presented nationally on various topics including museum membership, guest experience, and visitor services. Her passion is the application of service methodology to achieve a successful museum visit. Nalls completed a fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. where she fulfilled a research project on creating a positive museum experience and is also an American Alliance of Museums Peer Reviewer for their Community & Audience Engagement Museum Assessment and Accreditation programs. She earned her MLIS from the University of South Florida.

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