Friday, June 13, 2008

Tribe

One of the most fascinating and unexpected aspects of being a mother of girls is watching how they match up with friends. I'm continually surprised by the flip flopping of traits - one day they are carbon copies of their father, the next near replicas of myself. Without question, parenthood makes you face all of your demons....the qualities you want to improve on as well as reliving all of the uncomfortable rites of passage from your own childhood.

As I've mentioned many times before, growing up as the Colonel's Daughter was no walk in the park. I'm not complaining entirely.....it had its perks. But moving every year of my life before turning eighteen, I'm realizing now, was a lot harder than it seemed at the time. Finding your way through the maze of your teenage years is just not a pretty transition for most of us. Not all of us are part of the "it" clique. Combine that with being the New Girl every year? Not. Fun. At. All.

One of the best "tricks" I learned from having to endure the Groundhog Day effect of that first day of school over and over was sucking it up and being the best chameleon I could be. Here was my ritual for every first day of school:

  • Sit on counter in kitchen of new house sobbing and begging my mother not to make me go. 
  • Going. 
  • Putting on a happy face and acting like I hadn't a care in the world as I navigated a new school, new classes, new faces, new cliques (none of which I belonged to). 
  • Sitting in stall in girls bathroom eating my lunch (the only respite of peace during the day).
  • Going home (hopefully unscathed) on bus full of people I don't know and who want nothing to do with the New Girl. (*was particularly fun my senior year with no driver's license)
It was hard, people. But the hardest part of it all?  Discovering that once you are in your adulthood, when the uncivilized teenage years are over and things have changed, things really haven't changed.

One of my favorite bloggers is Emily.  I read this post and it whiplashed me back to every single memory of every single first day of school.  Not belonging. Feeling left out.  It really resonated with me because it was exactly how I have been feeling.  Left out. I have so much empathy for those that are struggling.  Those that are grieving.  Those that are trying to find their way. With careers. With relationships. With just surviving.

It's a lot easier to just laugh off the cruelty of childhood and teenage years but when you witness it in our current day lives, no matter what age, it's shocking.  

This Fall, when I send my firstborn off to Kindergarten, I'm sure the memory of my first days of school will creep in and nestle in the pit of my stomach like a heavy, cold stone.  And when the Mean Girls she will most certainly encounter snub her, I will be there.  Reliving it all.  Doing my best to help her along the way.  All the while teaching her that they really don't mean to hurt her feelings and reminding myself the same thing.

1 comment:

  1. But they do mean to be mean, that's the problem.

    I don't think it ever goes away. There was something going on here a while back where a friend was going through a crisis and all the other moms were rallying around her to help. One mom brought a card to "muffins with mom" at school and was passing it around for everyone to sign. I watched that card like a hawk and it never made its way to me. And, ridiculously, that got me a little verklempt. I had that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach (you know the one). It took me the whole rest of the day to get over it and remind myself that I am now supposed to be a grown-up. Then I went and got my own damn card. ;-)

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