Saturday, February 9, 2013

From sick babies, to mean girls

You might have seen the warning signs if you read the last bit of my blog post yesterday.  I was wearing thin and it was only a matter of time before I cracked.

The time: 7:30am Friday morning
The place: Shannon's house
The catalyst: Eleanor's stuffy nose

The pressure was building.  The responsibilities mounting.  The guilt creeping in.  And WHAM!  She's sick again!  WHAT?!  It's not fair.  That poor child.  She had just completely recovered from the sniffles and a week later she woke up sneezing and stuffy once again.

I have been assured that it comes with the territory of having a winter baby.  But then I compare.  Diana's baby hasn't been sick.  I haven't heard of Brittney's little one catching a cold.  But Eleanor, she's had it all.  From 10 days old she has been sniffly (or snarfly as Chrissy and Karina call it).  And so it must be my fault.  I take her out too much.  I shouldn't trust the gym's childwatch or the childcare at bible study.  There is nowhere safe.  I should just stay home with her all day.  That will keep my baby healthy.

But I couldn't stay home today.  I had commitments.  I can't reschedule.  She's not running a fever.  She's not even snotty. I can leave her.

But no, wait.  I can't.  I can't leave her.

I need to leave her.

But I can't.

But I must.

WHAM!  And I'm crying on Shannon's shoulder throwing my own version of a temper tantrum.

I'm not proud of my reaction Friday morning.  I took my frustration out on Alex and then I blubbered to Shannon.  But I don't regret it.  In the end I think I needed to hit this wall.  If I don't reach it, I can't get over it.  The reality is, I can't protect Eleanor from everything.  And I clearly, and desperately needed this break to gain perspective.  So I left Eleanor with Shannon, and drove out of the driveway, and by the time I reached my first meeting a weight had already lifted from my shoulders.

Part of me wonders if I didn't overreact on Friday to simply get out of my commitments as well.  My meetings on Friday were pep-rallies at middle schools.  while I have no problem hosting GOTR pep-rallies for 3rd-5th grades, it is those middle school girls that terrify me.  My own middle school experience was scarring.  But I know each time I successfully work with this age group, it heals the wounds a little bit more.  On Friday I decided to switch up my routine a little, and tell the girls about my own middle school experience:

I was short, very short for my age.  I was new.  The "new girl."  I just moved from Florida to a small town in Missouri.  I sounded a little different.  I was a little different.  At first those differences helped me to gain attention.  Everyone wanted to know about the new girl.  She's from Florida?!  Does she know anyone famous?  Does she have a nice tan?  Has she ever kissed a boy?  The answers: no, no and no.  The girls and the boys quickly lost interest.  And I quickly became lonely.

In an effort to gain back attention, I sucked up to the girls I thought would make me cool.  I tried to be like them.  I tried to play sports like them.  That was an unsuccessful attempt and made me feel even more different.  (Remember, I was very short...and might I mention, quite uncoordinated!)  I turned to behaviors I thought would get attention quick.  I gossiped.  I thought being mean would get me friends (how does that even make sense?)   I tried very, very hard to fit in.  My attempts were futile and I never found my place in middle school.  It wouldn't be until many years later in college that I realized I didn't need to be "cool."  I didn't need to be like anyone else.

I remember one horrific day in particular.  It was just a few weeks into my new school.  I sat down to eat lunch with a group of girls and boys who did not want me at their table.  They made it known by literally pushing me off the table.  My butt and my lunch landed in a heap on the floor.  I was horrified, hurt, and embarrassed. 

Have you ever wondered why I'm so passionate about Girls on the Run?  Why I choose to work for this organization?  This is why.  I want girls to know that it is OK to stand out.  It is OK to be yourself. And I want girls to know that it is OK to be NICE!

I know without a doubt, my middle school, and even high school experience would have been so much better if I trusted myself and who I am.  If I accepted my unique qualities, if I embraced my differences, if I loved myself, and really listened to my mom and "killed them with kindness."  As a result of my experience, it has taken me most of the rest of my life (and still working on it) to be confident in my abilities.  Especially in front of middle schoolers.  I want all girls to know who they are and be confident.  To stand up for themselves and others.  To be caring and compassionate.  To not buy into the "girl box."  That is what Girls on the Run is all about.

How did I get to this topic?  Weren't we talking about sick babies and mental breakdowns?  Well here we are.  What was your middle-school experience like?  I would love to hear your story as well. 

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