Holy Mother

Avery first day

You know what’s “fun” about living with chronic anxiety? Sometimes the fear that looms ever-present in the back of my mind numbs me to my socially-acceptable feelings of anxiety. Avery’s first day of Kindergarten has been vague and looming. Her friends’ mothers have been getting teary-eyed, saying how just yesterday they were babies. I would nod as they lamented, but inside the feelings weren’t mutual. It crept up on me when the first day of school arrived and I looked in the mirror and saw myself, AND the mother of a kindergartner.

It’s like when you’re bending over the sink to wash your face at night and you feel vaguely vulnerable but when you look up there is another face behind you in the mirror and in a split second you go from anticipation to startled panic. (Side note: that actually happened to me recently and like the calm, quick-witted woman I am, I reacted by falling to the ground silent and breathless as if I’d been shot. If it would have been an attacker, he probably would have paused to laugh. Which also brings to mind the question, why don’t high schools offer Self Defense classes?)

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“She’s only 4? She’s so tall!”

I have alarming news. I am tall. Not only that, but I have passed on this physical attribute to BOTH of my daughters. I know, it’s shocking how tall they are compared to other kids their age. I can tell in your tone of voice when you say, “She’s SO TAHHLL!” inevitably followed up by, “Is your husband really tall?” As if there needs to be more explanation than the almost 5’10” woman you are talking to.

I realize that you, in all your petite glory, don’t know me, and don’t see this as a rude comment. You probably don’t know what it’s like to tower over the boys in middle school. You don’t know what it’s like to not be able to share jeans and shoes with all your sorority sisters in college. You don’t know how annoying it is to constantly be asked if you played basketball, and you don’t know what it’s like to look like a giant in pictures:

Tall

Guess which one is me!

I know, boohoo, poor me. I’m not saying that there aren’t upsides to being tall or downsides to being short, I just don’t comment on your height or your son’s lack thereof so I don’t understand why it’s so common for you, a stranger, to point it out about my daughters.

I am not exaggerating when I say that Avery hears that she’s tall 4 or 5 times a week. Whether it’s a well-meaning mom saying, “Oh, she’s so tall! When’s her birthday?” or just a random guy in the grocery store going, “SHE’S ONLY 4? Woah! She’s tall!” She can hear you. And it’s awkward, because what’s the appropriate response? “Yes, I’m aware that I am tall.” I taught Avery to say, “Thank you” whenever someone comments on her height because at least she knows what to say when it happens day in and day out. And I’m not worried that it bothers her now. It actually doesn’t bother her at all. It bothers me. Because I know what’s coming in her teenage years when all she’s going to want to be is the same as her friends and every little thing that makes her stand out suddenly comes under scrutiny.

I will tell her she’s beautiful, and lucky, and that her outside isn’t as important as her inside. We all live through adolescence and eventually come to terms with our physical attributes. I just don’t want her to find out how much people are paying attention to her body already. She’s only 4.

Petty Woman: On Growing Back Together After Growing Apart

Petty Woman…walkin’ down the street, Petty Woman…oh wait, that was me.

Advice Shoes

In my experience, there is a phase with women friends, particularly sorority girls, that around the time you graduate college you start “growing apart” from people who challenge you. As free time gets more precious, you choose to spend what little you have on the ones who never make you worry about protecting yourself. These friends are pure gold. They make you feel good about yourself, they cushion the bumpy parts of life, and they know you for the layers you’ve accumulated through years of experiences, not just what the people who meet you now see. I am blessed to have a large group of friends like this and we are closer than ever. They have my heart. I will always be loyal to them.

But what happens to the other friends? The ones who really did mean something to you when you were starting out adulthood, but you had minor falling-outs that through time and distance turned into completely losing touch?

The 20-something ego is like a balloon. The more inflated it gets, the more fragile it becomes. When your balloon gets too big, you have to start avoiding anything potentially sharp or rough. I’m talking specifically about relationships here.

Personally, my brain is geared toward a black and white viewpoint. I naturally see things in such stark contrast that it can be difficult for me to discern the little gray areas in between. This has made me exceptionally loyal to the friends that are still in my life, but it also made me overly dismissive of friends who were going through something I didn’t understand at the time. I see now that I spent a few years on a high horse, thinking that I was seeing things clearly but I didn’t recognize the temporary gray areas when black and white didn’t line up exactly.

Now I’m 30 years old and could not have guessed the surprise life had in store for me this decade. Meaningful girlfriends are trickling back into my life; people that I’ve missed greatly and didn’t even realize it until they came back. I’ve noticed that a lot of my girlfriends I went to college with are growing back together. I think part of it is that we want the world to be a kinder place to our children. We want our daughters and sons to look for the gray areas. We want them to see that sometimes people are just going through a thing. It’s their own thing, not about anyone else. We shouldn’t let our ego get so big and fragile that we can’t see around it.

I’ve had this conversation with a few of my girlfriends and it seems like when you turn 30 you realize how unique the opportunity was to forge relationships at a time when you were all on your own figuring out your personality for the first time without your parents. When you are friends with someone you LIVE with, eat with, go out drinking with, stay in and do nothing with, talk all night with, sit in comfortable silence with, cry with, occasionally bicker with, and laugh with, you know each other in a way no one else can. Some of the girls I lived with in college and right after know more about me than my husband does. Mainly because he doesn’t watch reality TV and I don’t discuss my weight, grooming, ex-boyfriends, or digestion with him…so that kills like 80% of my favorite girl-talk topics right there.

When I think about my ego balloon now, it has considerably deflated in the past 10 years. It takes up less space in my life now. It’s stronger and more flexible. I don’t shy away from people who challenge my version of myself. I own the fact that a lot of my disappointments in friendships were self-inflicted because I chose to protect my big, fragile ego instead of looking past it for gray areas that would help me understand.

I would like to know…have you experienced this? Do you have friends that are back in your life after years of hiatus? Has an old friend apologized to you? Have you apologized to them? Any thoughts from the Men? Please share if you’ve gone through this too.

I’ll leave you with some Pinterest quotes that really speak to my frame of mind in 2015:

Advice 1

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Advice 2

Wait.

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Savannah’s new favorite word is “Wait!”

When my husband heads out the door for work in the morning, she toddles behind him shouting “Wait! Wait! Wait!” He stops and turns. This is where her limited vocabulary fails her, so she says everything else on her mind with a tiny triumphant smile that says, I won. I stopped you. I postponed the inevitable. She is rewarded with one more kiss then she toddles off to find a new treasure.

The thing is, I know exactly how she feels. Time is going by too fast. When I glance at Facebook the parents are the grandparents and the kids are the mommies and daddies. Souls are coming and going from the earth and babies are having birthdays and there is no way to stop time. I try to grasp it when I look at my children. I take mental pictures. Even as I scribble my thoughts on a notebook in the dark, sharing a blanket with two little girls as The Little Mermaid plays on TV, I know I shouldn’t be thinking about blogging, I should be kissing them and smelling them and absorbing them. Their tiny painted toenails are like little worry stones. What does a mommy do without tiny toes to hold?

It’s just going by too fast.

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