Aging, Sisterhood, and Clarity

Getting older can be a real buzzkill. One minute you’re 18 and the world is laid out in front of you like one of those naked chicks acting as a human plate in a European sushi place, and the next minute you’re attempting to do 8 minutes of abs on the floor of your baby’s room but all you hear is your hip cracking with every reverse curl.

It can bring you down. Okay, I’m being nice, it can get you down and make you stay down.

But today I had this epiphany about aging. Although my body and gravity are far from BFF’s now, aging has given me something I never had before… a bit of clarity. Clarity about our place in the universe, and mostly about the feelings I have towards my friendships with other women.

We all know at least one woman that we look at and say, “Damn, girlfriend has got her shit together. I wish I had my shit together like that” and contrarily we also know many who we look at and say, “Bitch needs to get her shit together. I’m so glad I’ve got my shit more together than that.” I think I’ve fallen into both of these categories at some stage of my life. Some more than others. What freaked me out about having these types of attitudes and opinions about other women, was the fact that I’d pegged it as jealously, and the idea that I was jealous of someone else’s success made me feel pretty sick about myself. In hindsight, I wasn’t jealous. Not in the slightest, but I didn’t know better then.

Recently though, I’ve started to realize that being enamored of someone didn’t make me a jealous person. I didn’t want what they had, I didn’t want to take their mojo away from them. Well, maybe I wanted a little bit of their good stuff to rub off on me, but I’m not a mojo sucking vampire. That’s when the truth jumped up and bit me, some people just have that “it” factor. That little thing that makes them a true shining star in your day. Even when their life isn’t going according to plan, even when things are really screwed up, you won’t know because they shine bright in your You-niverse and that’s all you see.

Ironically it took someone, telling me, that I had that “it” factor in their eyes, which brought me to this mind-blowing-moment. Me? Who-the-hell would look at me like that? My first thought? A crazy person, but this is actually someone I love and respect. I was just so floored with this revelation that I needed to take a step back and see myself the way she saw me. Sure I’m old and tired, sarcastic and silly… but maybe, just maybe, on a good day, I can be the center of her You-niverse, that little thing that makes her say, “Hahaha, Yes!”

Women are usually their own worst critic and rarely give ourselves the props we deserve. I’m that type of woman, normally… but I’m gonna bottle up that good feeling from today, take her amazing compliment, keep it in the kitchen, and whip it out when I’m feeling down.

So I guess this is growing up.

The Parenting Paradox

The one cool thing about getting older is you give less fucks. I really could care less about what someone thinks about me. Unless it’s someone I actually like, then, of course, I’d prefer that person like me back. All of a sudden I’m in middle school again… I’m the girl in the Gap overalls my Mom got on sale at the outlet stores. See me? Right there… Yup. I vividly remember how hard it was to make friends, form relationships, and feel like I fit in. We lived in a completely different world then. All of my friends lived near me. I rode my bike everywhere, I walked to school.

Now, fast forward what seems like a hundred years and here we are.

Adults.

Adults with little joiners of our own. And we are watching them forge relationships. Ones that, sometimes unfortunately, we need to be a huge part of. Our children’s childhood friendships come with extra “built in” friends for us. The friend’s parents, sometimes even their siblings befriend our other children. And then you’re not only dealing with you own family dynamic, but you’re forced to blend and mold that to accommodate other families and their dynamics. It’s a balancing act that can sometimes seem like a never-ending siege of power struggles and alpha dogs.

So here is the paradox. What happens when you dislike your kid’s friend? Or worse, the friend’s parents?

Now you’re thrown into social situations with people you would normally distance yourself from. Crazy, right-wing bigot? No thanks, I’m good. Religious, preachy zealot? I gave at the office.

But your kid likes their kid. So now you have to maintain a personal relationship with someone you would normally cross the street to avoid.

I’m just starting to feel the pressure with my oldest child. He has school friends, religious school friends, soccer team friends, and we live in an area that requires plans be made, and followed up with, that’s right, you guessed it, the parents.

I can’t remember the last text message or phone conversation I had that didn’t involve me making plans with an adult I met through my child, so he could play with their child. Ultimately, it is my son’s decision when choosing friends. I only hope that his father and I have given him the proper tools to choose wisely.

I must say, lately, I’ve been pretty lucky. My son seems to be able to sense crazy pretty quickly so he’s figured out the parents and/or children he doesn’t want to be around on his own. Which is AWESOME. Thanks buddy. But this same cycle is already starting with the middle guy, and soon the baby will have friends too. And although I enjoy having a diverse tapestry of relationships in my life I would like to have some personal responsibility about the people I want to weave in.

So although, I really don’t give a fuck about people’s perception of me anymore, I care deeply about how people perceive my children based on my actions. I don’t want to be “that parent”.

The one that people cross the street to avoid.