I think I’ve always been more sure of myself and less concerned about being popular than the average girl. I remember being in second grade and running away from the cool girls at recess to hide and learn Spanish and Korean and Russian from the new kids (I will admit, second grade was the last time the cool girls tried to chase me down. But, you know, whatever.)
Even as a hormonal, sullen teenager, I was too serious and too practical to be pressured into any of the trouble that I could have easily happened upon in my Friday-night-lights hometown. I was also too busy holding down the intersection of “most likely to outperform you on an AP exam” and “most likely to whack you over the head with a Bible.” Goodness knows somebody had to.
As a little kid and as an adolescent, I liked being the dissenting voice. I still do. I’ve rarely done something just because everybody else was doing it. I’ve often NOT done something for just that reason.
I chose to keep my journey to adoption pretty private, so I guess it was a shock for a lot of folks when I showed up one day with a preschooler in tow. Maybe all parents feel this way (do you?), but for me the “public role” of being mom was sudden, overwhelming and noisy. My too serious and too practical self was now taking on the greatest and most important challenge of my life. And everybody had an opinion.
Suddenly, I was back in second grade, and the cool girls were chasing me again. Acquaintances and friends of friends with whom I had exchanged only small talk suddenly wanted to have coffee and playdates. Folks I barely knew felt compelled to share passionate advice about raising kids. Daycare. Definitely no daycare. Barbies. Definitely no Barbies. Co-sleeping. Definitely no co-sleeping. Public school. Definitely no public school. Santa Claus. Definitely no Santa Claus. Vaccines. Definitely no vaccines. Dance class and soccer and piano lessons. Definitely no dance class. Or soccer. Or piano lessons.
There was no room for the dissenting voice because all of the voices were earnest, frantic and violently thrashing about. I wanted to cover my ears and yell, “WHY ARE WE ALL SCREAMING?”
Dear Cool-Girl Mamas, can we all just take a breath and stop screaming? Let’s call a truce. This parenting thing is hard. We’re scared that we’re not getting it right. What works wonderfully well for you and your kids might not work for my daughter and I. That’s ok.
Let’s stop screaming long enough to look into each other’s eyes. I’m pretty sure what I will find in yours. Love. An absolute, dogged devotion to the little people entrusted to you and a primal, tireless resolve to do your absolute best by them. I get that. You’re doing all right, even if you don’t win me over with all the screaming.
Now pardon me while I run off to brush up on my Russian…