Spring is definitely my favorite time of year, not just because we are able to shake off the gloom of winter, but because we celebrate women all season long.

March is Women’s History Month, and April is Black Women’s History Month. Yes, April is Black Women’s History Month and we have women like Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson making the month count even more so than usual.

During the month of April, many look forward to Mother’s Day and graduations in May. Thus, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we honor the women in history and our lives.  

Reading any piece of literature or progressive greeting card on the topic of celebrating women, you will likely find the following terms: carrying, fight, tireless, sacrifice, caregiver, commitment, achievement, dedication, pioneer, visionary, courage, organizer, unending, devoted and scores of other testaments to the unyielding strength and determination of the female gender. Cue the Wonder Woman soundtrack!

Women might receive these words with pride, glad that their tireless fight and unending commitment are at least acknowledged, if only momentarily, during this time of year.  

However, there may be another underlying message in those bits of prose about the relentless dedication of women: that many women deserve a break.  Like, a REAL break. No, I mean a BREAK, break. A period of time during which the superhero cape comes off and real relaxation happens. 

I don’t mean a break to put out another person’s fire. I don’t mean a break to plan and execute the family vacation. I don’t mean that two minutes between meetings, activities or children’s events. I mean a break from the role of superwoman. A break to literally, LITERALLY do whatever she wants to do.

If that means climbing a mountain, she climbs a mountain. If that means doing nothing at all, just sitting, doing nothing, then she does just that. Whatever restores and rejuvenates her, she does it, without apology. 

As a therapist who sees many women, a notable pattern I have found over the years is the absolute lack of response to the question, “What do you do to relax?” The number of women that roam the earth with absolutely no idea what they truly enjoy or how they feel when not under the pressure to perform is astounding.

In this culture, and possibly others, we celebrate the pathological practice of overworking. We applaud those who lose sleep, sacrifice personal time, and attempt to balance multiple high-demand tasks simultaneously. In this culture of individual achievement by any means necessary, many women have digested the subliminal message that asking for help, extending an unrealistic deadline, or just plain saying, “No,” are signs of weakness or a lack of commitment.

Let’s make history by unlearning those practices. Let’s embrace the idea that when women finish making history, they may need a moment to rest. Tricia Hersey of The Nap Ministry speaks about the power of collective rest and self-care. Real rest, not a nap between duties.

The pandemic highlighted the need to be still for a moment. During the forced stillness, many women found their voices and left jobs, drew boundaries, and just plain said, “No.”  How revolutionary is that? 

Simone Biles, beloved American all-around gymnast withdrew from the Tokyo Olympic Games in order to focus on her mental health. Amidst a storm of critique and ridicule, she openly declared that she was not going to be a martyr for excessive performance and compulsive achievement. That declaration did not remove one medal from around her highly decorated neck.  

Naomi Osaka was the number one female tennis player in the world in 2019 and was still the woman to beat when she withdrew from the French Open, and later Wimbledon, in 2021. Her withdrawal from these tournaments was on the heels of her being fined for refusing to submit to aggressive and personally demoralizing interviews. This highest-paid woman athlete at the time, Osaka openly discussed battling depression and anxiety that was compounded by the racial injustices occurring during that period.

Simone and Naomi needed a break and they took one. These women not only made history as athletes, they made history for being revolutionary about their self-care.  

In the midst of being moguls, teachers, caregivers, mothers, daughters, sisters, partners and friends, women can also make history by being committed, dedicated, unyielding and visionary about nurturing themselves.

As less-famous superwomen out here on a much smaller, but no less stressful stage due to many factors, we want to know about and celebrate the immense accomplishments of women during the months we celebrate the contributions of women. 

In the spirit of renewal which accompanies every spring, we also need to hear about their rehabilitative practices and celebrate the entirety of their experiences and needs. I hope to find out more about those practices during my break.