The Sleepover

6 years ago

When I went to BlogHer a couple of weeks ago, I was surrounded by thousands of women. That’s a whole lotta estrogen. Not a girly girl by any means (and my ability to accessorize is downright pitiful)… I was cautious. But, I received some pep talks, did some light stretching and threw myself into this gaggle of chirping women.

I’m 35. One of the things that I’ve come to love about my 30s is the fact that I am finally getting comfortable with who I am. I am day by day getting over what the elusive “They” think and enjoying the person that I am.

Most of the time.

But I’ll be damned if I didn’t smack immediately into the first round of a scene straight out of Mean Girls. Some of it was directed at me. A lot of it wasn’t. But over my first couple of days, I saw a lot. Snubs and rudeness. Small slights and cuts. Whispers and catty remarks. Some moves subtle, others not.

In the face of that scenario in a sea of strangers, I dissolved.

I disappeared back to 4th grade. One of my first sleepovers, a neighbor’s birthday party. She was a year ahead of me and went to a different school. I was invited but knew no one except the birthday girl, Kristen.

I went to the party armed with my sleeping bag and a security blanket with which I still slept. Can we say instant prey?

Taunting. Whispering. Exclusion. I remember going to the bathroom at one point and coming back to find they’d moved their sleeping bags all over to one side of the room and put mine in a far corner. My blanket was nowhere in sight.

I balled myself up, unable to sleep, listening to their tittering. I was less than a block from home but too afraid to ask to leave.

Sidelong glances from the group in the morning as Kristen’s mother helped me search every sleeping bag until I found my blanket.

Walking home without breakfast, my head low. Minus a friend, and heavy under all the reasons why I wasn’t good enough.

The thing is that it doesn’t really change when you’re 35. We do the best we can to use the tools we’ve developed. We try to recognize our strengths. We have a better understanding of how others work. We learn to shrug off drama that just ain’t worth our time.

Maybe the people involved were insecure and trying to mask that by turning attention elsewhere. Maybe they had bypassed self-assured and catapulted directly to arrogant. Who knows? It doesn’t really matter.

The point is this: We, as women, have the power to be better. Beyond that, as a mother, I’d say we have the responsibility to be better.

I’m not perfect. I’ve gossiped. I’ve excluded. I’ve turned away when I could have easily given a smile. But that conference, because of its scale, gave me an important reminder. It’s one more important than anything I could have learned in one of the sessions.

Every day, you have countless opportunities to make others feel like they are Enough. Will you take them?

Originally posted at Just.Be.Enough

Tracy May is Editor and Contributor at It Builds Character...and other parenting cliches, a group blog about parenting survival. She is also a Contributor at Just.Be.Enough.

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