When I was ten years old I ended my love affair with private school and began my marriage to public institutions. Gone were the boring blue and white checkered jumpsuits, weekly masses, and nuns; I entered the handprint-covered, glass double doors in 80s pink neon and knockoff keds, exulting Judy Blume in conjunction with memorized multiplication tables. I was a nerd. In oversized glasses.
Like any other girl of my years, I longed to be included. There was a gaggle of gals who looked the part, knew the gossip, and held the attention of the most important boys. My goal was to be one with them; with soft features and bright eyes and lovely hair, I wanted more than anything to be popular. But it wasn’t meant to be, because those girls didn’t want me…. and they let me know it. Fortunately I had three sisters at home, who, even though yelled at me for stealing their clothes, loved me for who I was. I copied their crimped hair styles and emulated their cheerleading mantra. When my oldest sister moved into her first apartment, I stared at the entrance to Fenway Park and envied her freedom to smell the green grass and drink Boston Lager. While my youngest sister and I had a slight obsession with spaghetti-os, we moved across the country together, only to find the open Texas skies replaced with gray clouds and wintry corn fields.
Recently I have been reminded of that time period: the mean girl era. I remembered the thought process that excludes all sincere, heartfelt knowledge and replaces it with jealousy and relentless rage. The teen years. The pre-teen years. The years where every single girl on earth is faced with the challenge. The challenge to be themselves. The challenge not to retaliate against the ones who got them there. The challenge to just…. be. Complete alienation… even when among “friends.”
How can I get this right? The ideal of what my daughter should expect, should react, as an only child? The instillation of the brisk confidence that will allow her to brush off these mean girls with the back of her hand, the soft breeze gently guiding her to a better place. Oh how I want to spare her the pain… how I wish to only fill her heart with subtle peace and excruciating joy.
(Photo credit: SPC Creative)
I realize as her mother, I can only provide a buttress from which she can build her strength. I can teach her that she will have girlfriends like sisters… who truly love her for who she is, and withhold judgement from every angle.
Looking back, I notice that for every moment I hid in the school bathroom to cry, there was a much more important moment, sometimes years later….when I could see the pain in my sister’s face, her eyes, and could feel the twisting in her heart. I could identify with her very intense pain. Whether or not your sister is real or bonded in friendship…the love you share is irreplaceable.
It’s about action..
It’s allowing your sister into your home, with a semi-aggressive dog and all that she owns in the world, because she just can’t get it right.
It’s bringing your sister dinner and movies while her husband lay in the hospital, because you know that eating is the last thing on her mind.
It’s about flying half way around the world so your sister can feel special on her birthday, and singing karaoke duets in the process.
It’s the complete understanding of the intense emotion, sunken chest, and welled eyes. Lifetime friendships are built this way. Sisterhoods are born this way. And that is why I’m so grateful for mine. I love them more than they’ll ever know… and hope one day my daughter finds true friends such as these, a gaggle of gals who will lift her up for all she is, even if she ends up in oversized glasses.
(Photo Credit: SPC Creative)
Love each other. Cheers.