Yep. That’s me on the far left. 8th grade cheerleader. My best friend from high school is on the far right, identity protected for her privacy. The other girls were classmates. The one with her arm around my shoulder? Hated me. But we were posing for pictures, so she faked it for the camera. I hated her just as much as she hated me. But I was good at acting too.
This was my last year of cheerleading. My brother was taking the picture, that’s why I was making faces. He always brought out the best (or should that be the “beast”) in me. Still does, as a matter of fact.
I was able to see my best friend from high school again at a local basketball game last night. Her daughter cheers, and has grown up into a lovely young woman, full of smiles and affection. My best friend’s dad is Mr. H, my favorite teacher from high school, and he was there as well. This is the second time I’ve seen any of them in the last week, and it’s been great catching up and talking about everything.
But then, after leaving the school, something just felt… off.
YoungerDaughter had a minor breakdown on the way home, I’m not sure where exactly it came from, but it was one of her mini-volcanoes of depression. She comes by it naturally. *wry smile*
And then, after YoungerDaughter went to bed, I sat, a little depressed, and trying not to delve too hard into the past we’d been talking about most of the evening.
The past has not always been a comfortable thing for me to contemplate. There were a lot of good times, true, but there were a lot of things about my life back then, that I really could just drop, down a deep well, into the dark, and forget about, without missing those chunks of my life at all.
I know that I’ve talked about not regretting the things that I’ve done and said in the past, as all of that makes me who I am – but, still.
Sometimes, it just gets to me. There are things that I’ve forgotten about, or thought I’d forgotten about, when suddenly, looking into YoungerDaughter’s face while she tells me that she doesn’t feel like she’s anything “extraordinary” or “special”, that I suddenly hear my own voice saying those things. Crying out, wanting to be someone, something special.
That younger self that was considered fat in high school, wasn’t athletic, wasn’t pretty or popular enough for the boys to chase, wasn’t good at really much of anything other than riding horses and writing – which no one but the best friend ever saw, because I was too shy and embarrassed to show it, and possibly get laughed at. Fear of rejection, fear of losing one’s friends, of no one ever knowing you for yourself, not just for your connections to someone else.
And YoungerDaughter has many of the same issues plaguing her now, that I had then. It breaks my heart. I want so badly to be able to fix this for her, shake the people around her at school and show them just how amazing she is. But I know that nothing I say or do will make a difference. Because I’m just the Mom, and it’s my job to say she’s talented, pretty, smart, etc…. even when I really do think all these things!
It doesn’t matter.
Sometimes, being a grown-up sucks. Because even though you’re the parent, and you’re supposed to be able to make a difference in your child’s life, help mold and define them – at some point? They have to go through the hardest stuff without you.
And all you can do is be there to pick up the pieces.
Now? I don’t worry so much about what people think about me. I try to put my best face forward, but if they don’t like it? Screw it. I don’t need the constant affirmation of who I am that teenagers need. I’ve redefined myself over the years, instead of letting others do it, and even though I’m feeling a bit depressed, I know that it’ll pass soon enough, and I’ll be back up.
But, right now – it sucks to be a grown-up.