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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Show Not Tell - Adventures with The Girl

The girl and I have embarked on another journey.  With the teenage years lurking around the corner anxious to envelope my baby girl, I give them the "side eye" and tell them to hold on, I've got a few months of preparation to do.  This is crunch time, every moment counts.

I've finally succumbed to the reality that I can't protect my baby girl from the woes and challenges of the world.  I must move from protection to preparation.  I probably started too late in this transition but who doesn't really want their baby girl to stay in pigtails and My Little Pony for as long as possible.

This year's journey of ours reflects these changes as we incorporate some of her peers into our adventures.  This glimpse of my girl as she interacts with her best friend shows me the face that she shows to the world when she's not under my protection and quite frankly my "side eye".

I see her test the waters of how to maneuver this transition.  Typically her days are spent with the lines clearly divided, the school bus as her transition from home girl to pre-teen friend girl.  At school and activities where she spreads her wings and tests out some things.  Where sometimes she laughs and grows and other times pulls back with caution unsure of how her wings will carry her.

There is so much I want to teach, but I know I can't write it out or present her with a powerpoint presentation on how to grow up and what to expect.  It must come carefully with well placed intention.   How do I teach her not to emulate some of my biggest challenges that she's watched.  Did I ever tell her which of those things she witnessed I'm not proud of and don't want for her?  Did I carefully underscore those things I'm most proud of that I want her to live again and again?

In just a few short hours I learn of the "crush", the one she hadn't told me about.  I smile and tell her that's awesome and I want to know about this lucky boy.  She looks at me cautiously to see if she's safe.  Then later she comes to show me the boy's Instagram photo with a huge smile, happy that for a brief moment her worlds are colliding.  I so want this girl of mine to feel safe with her fears and frustrations and happy crushes of boys with crooked teeth and cowlicks in their hair.  I now know that I've made things more difficult for her with my outspoken views of right and wrong, accidentally telling her that the gray area is a dangerous place.  I must correct this and show her that most of life is living in the gray.

Maybe I've overprotected, maybe our home has been too busy and tumultuous to let her feel truly safe and to show this vulnerable side of her most fabulousness.  I'm working hard to bridge the gap, not too hard because she senses when things are too planned too structured afraid she won't get it right.  This cautious and compliant girl of mine.  So different from me but with eyes that match mine and I hope a heart that matches mine too. I realize that parenting is more about showing than telling and I'm also trying to find my way.  I must find a way to join hands with my beautiful girl and let us help each other navigate this gray.

I must show not tell and be her love and support and her guide through braces and bumps along the way and boys with grins a mile wide.  Less telling more showing, the lessons on our journeys are more for me I understand.  A chance to pull away from the mad dash to the bus and the fray of life to see her, really see her and fall in love again with my beautiful baby girl.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Girl Took My Hair and I Want It Back

Today as I stroked my preteen's locks and ironed it straight into glossy strands of awesomeness, I was hit not with the love of a mother but the jealousy of a woman scorned.  While this pre-teen, Jennifer Aniston in training, is a loving offspring born from my loins; I have said that I would give her my life but I'm not sure I agreed to give her my hair.

I had this hair once. This full shiny crown of sun kissed blonde. All natural and full of "touch me I'm beautiful and carefree and fabulous".  And I'll be damned if I didn't know to covet it when I had it.  The way I could twist it up casually with barely a thought and poke in a pin or two and it looked like something from the cover of "Teen Goddess Magazine".   Or a few rolls of the curling iron and I was the belle of the ball.

And even though I abused it a few years with vats of chemicals and pink elastic hell in the name of spiral permed fashion, it never turned on me.  It always reclaimed it's place in the world of healthy awesomeness.  I miss my hair.

I didn't know it was going away.  Like a dear friend that goes off to college and you think you'll stay in touch, until you don't. Sure I knew I'd probably not wear a 26 inch waist Levi forever or rock the string bikini on spring break in my 40's but no one ever put up the warning flare that I would lose my hair.  Not literally like chemo lose your hair, but lose the awesomeness of teenage hair.

No one would tell me that now when I casually throw my hair into a twist on top of my head that there are just 4 strands left sticking up and out in ways that scream awkward and unkept not sun kissed and carefree.

No one told me that I'd spend hours sitting in a chair so my stylist could foil me up like a baked potato every 6 weeks to retain that sun kissed glow.

No one told me that my long locks would really be stringy wet noodles that begged to be cropped into a more appropriate length for my age.

When I bitched and moaned to my stylist about my longing for my hair of my teens and twenties she casually suggested I try extensions.  Dear Lord, I don't change my earrings, I doubt I'm a candidate for hair changes that require pinning and clipping the length of my youth.

So this morning I bite the inside of my cheek as I stroke and iron the sun kissed locks of my youth now firmly planted on this child of mine.  I suppose I should relish in the knowing that I have passed on one of my better traits to my girl.  She'll probably get my bra size too so I smile a sarcastic smile,  happy that life isn't perfect.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Women of Listen to Your Mother Indianapolis

Sometimes I still feel like a 7th grader.  Last night was the first rehearsal for my Listen to Your Mother event.  That means showing up to spend the evening with a room full of women you don't know.  I consider myself a pretty outgoing person but there's something about anticipating being in a room full of women you don't know that brings out my 7th grade girl syndrome.  All…...what should I wear, and how's my hair, and what if they're mean or what if I spill my   milk  wine.  Gee, I hope they like me.

Luckily for me, I was 20 minutes late so I got to walk in to a room full of people that had already met and were sitting around a table enjoying a nice dinner.  So I blow in with my go to tactic of sarcasm when I'm feeling rattled.  "Hey all, you can forever refer to me as Late Girl now."  Because isn't that what we typically do, try to find the box that people should fit in to keep us comfortable.

But that's not what happened last night.  I was quickly brought into the group with some icebreakers and introductions and immediately I relaxed and felt safe.  We spent the night reading our pieces that we will present in our Indianapolis Listen to Your Mother event.  Vulnerability on high alert.

We have each written something about motherhood.  We laughed, we cried, we nodded our heads, and we tried to give those that were hurting raw and real the look from across the table that said, "you're good, we're here for you, go for it, we want you to rock."  In two hours we opened our hearts and souls to what previously had been strangers.

In the middle of this event I was so inspired, I literally started dreaming about what more I want to do so I can experience more moments like these; begging to live in this place of love and belonging.  Vulnerability, the place that Brene' Brown has taught us is the birthplace of joy and creativity.  I relished in that cloud last night.

On the way home it occurred to me that we don't often come together for that type of common ground and support.  We spend too much of our lives compartmentalizing. We spend time being the sports family, or the music family, or the church family, or whatever label we purposefully or accidentally slap on our SUV.  Last night was different, last night we gathered for humanity and soul sharing.  I have no idea if those women are democrat or republican, or Christian or Buddhist, or vegan or a fast food junkie.  And I don't care.  I can't wait to spend more time with them and learn from them and feel their spirit joining with mine.

How can we foster this kind of unity?  Is vulnerability our common ground?  Do we need to bare our soul and our humor and our spirit in a really uncomfortable way to finally find our common humanity?  I think yes, because hiding behind our labels and our attacking Facebook posts of anyone that is different and our unrealistic expectations of each other isn't really working.

For now, I'm going to relish in the next few times I get to be with these ladies, because I know they'll make me better.

PS - Buy your tix now so you can see what I'm talking about -
Show and Ticket Info Here