Disclaimer: We apologize in advance for not starting out your Monday with a gut-busting, tear-inducing post. Sometimes life calls for a little "in your face" dose of realism and your two bloggers here experienced just that but on two different intellectual and developmental levels. Let me state that my sister and I discuss topics daily, and today's topic had been on our minds and psyches for YEARS before we even developed a blog page. The events of the past week justified the topic to come full circle and into fruition.
Mama, Don't let your Babies Grow Up to be Bitches.....
Yes, that sounds harsh. But I remember it clearly. My sister (fellow blogger), husband and I were at my ultrasound with #3 (at this point you have realized that my family is tight-knit and there is not much that we don't do together). The doctor was moving the cold jelly and probe over my uncomfortably full bladder. My bladder was about to burst, as was I, but with excitement as we were about to find out if I was going to have a boy or a girl. My sister was pregnant with a boy, and three months further along than I was. She was hoping that I would have a girl and we could simply swap layettes. She already had a girl, and I had two boys. It was a win-win. I, of course, was most eager to count fingers, toes, heads,etc and hope that the seething blob of protoplasm on the screen promised to develop into something somewhat normal. And there they were...labia. AND I WAS.....CRYING. Not because I could finally dress a little person in pink and stick bows to where I hoped there would someday be hair, but because I thought "Shit....girls are TOUGH." I mean, I was not emotionally or physically high-maintenance (and my mom and husband will agree to the former statement). But because I remember...CLEARLY remember the hell, turmoil and utter emotional catastrophe that was adolescence. I was lying there draped in a paper sheet with the fresh news that I was going to give birth to my first darling baby girl and I could not let myself enjoy it because I already feared for her tween years. Is that right? No, but I still have dreams and flashbacks about the "mean girls" from my adolescence, and I did not want my baby girl to go through the same thing. And I was reminded that it starts earlier than middle school when I went to lunch with my kindergarten boy one day. I was at the table with him, some of his buddies and a mish-mash of girls. And I overheard one little girl say to two others "Let's not talk to Cassie today because she is not wearing pink" And I had to hold myself back from diving across the pint-sized tables and not holding this pig-tailed little princess in a head-lock. How dare she exclude Cassie? I didn't even know Cassie, but my "mother bear" instinct kicked in and no one was going to exclude Cassie...not on my watch. And they were 5!!! I didn't experience this level of evil until at least 6th grade (unless I cognitively blocked it out which is very possible...and if I sought therapy for all of this, probably very normal) Anyway, I simply said "Girls, that is not a nice way to treat a friend. You would feel bad if you were not included. And Cassie, I love your shirt. It makes your eyes really blue, like Cinderella's." And you could literally see Cassie swell with pride...as I was fuming on the inside secretly wanting to hide out in the bushes on recess and throw random playground balls "sniper-like" at those other girls in Cassie's defense. This was just a small snippet of what middle-school was like for me. My self-appointed therapy group with current girlfriends and sisters turns up very similar stories. Unfortunately, I have realized that it starts early, and with some females, it never quite goes away. I still feel that people are "talking about me" if I have walked into a room. Or when a stranger looks at me for a more than normal period of time, they are obviously hating and judging. Thank you adolescent peers! I am in my thirties and STILL self-conscious. I had hoped it would go away, but my sisters continue to prove that even into adulthood, it is a battle ground out there for women. And our biggest threat is other women. So here is my point....LEAD BY EXAMPLE!
I know that some of it is innate....survival instinct. Desire to be on top. And how do we do that?...bring others down. That does not sound like a very fair war tactic, but it sure is a functional one. Sally does not feel good about herself, so she tells Emma that she cannot come to her birthday party, play with her at recess or that Emma's hair is too brown. Yes, it all sounds crazy, but these little statements, true or not, make Emma feel bad and therefore give Sally power, which make her feel good. Yikes. But there is some Nature vs. Nurture as well. Our kids are so in tune to what we say and do, even though most of the time they look like they are in a Sponge Bob-induced coma. I grew up like poor Emma. So I swore that I would always be nice, accepting and non-judgmental of other people. And I feel that I am...most of the time. But I have even caught myself being "that evil girl" when I say simple, "innocent" snide remarks when reading People Magazine....like "Oooh, look at that dress. That looks really bad on her." Or when driving... "Some people just can't drive. They are so stupid!" Or just simply going to WalMart....there are so many opportunities for judgment and fashion-bashing. But my point is that none of the above comments "hurt" the person, but they don't fall on deaf ears either. As a result, I have really learned to watch what I say around my kids. The comments may seem innocent enough, but it only took once for my 5 year old to say "mommy, look at that lady's hair. I can't believe she left the house like that!" To which my husband and I chuckled, and then reality kicked in. My pre-schooler is a judger. Did I do that to her? Holy hell I hope not.
Then there is the female's unbelievable knack of talking behind one's back and forming cliques. I was always on the outer edge of any clique or group. And I swore in my adulthood that I would be an "includer"....which is why at my 11 year old's recent birthday party I had half of his grade sleep over. I did not want anyone to be left out. You cannot repair hurt feelings very easily. But I have learned that it still happens as adults. My fellow blogger ran across it this weekend at...twice within a 24 period. Without going into detail, she found out that girls can still be jealous, back-stabbing, catty, and self-righteous...she even commented that she felt like she was back in high school. Last time I checked, we were in our 30's; apparently age is but a number when you're dealing with the female race. It doesn't matter if you're 13 or 33, if you have an opportunity to take someone down, you go for it. Oh sure, all meant in "good fun". Welcome to the wolf-pack. We eat the weak...but first we have to find your weakness, exploit it, and then we take you down. Aren't girls fun?
Again, sorry for the reality dose post, but it made me sit up and take notice this past weekend when OUR family was having dinner with another family. They have an 11 year old son and 8 year old twin girls. While in the bathroom with my 5 year old girl, she asked me "Mommy, how do I make them laugh?" I asked her what she meant. She sweetly said "I want to make them laugh so that they like me." I wanted to cry. And here we are. At the threshold of where my little angel wants to go above and beyond to please someone else so that she can fit in. I just told her "Honey, just be yourself and they will love you."..."How do I be myself mommy?" Oh, GOD. Why couldn't I have had all boys?? They just beat the crap out of each other and move on. "Sweetie, you don't do anything different. That is how you be yourself. And people will see that and like that about you." And then she hugged me and I silently prayed that God would spare her the pain, agony and torture of being a girl.