Last night was spring sing for the middle school choir. Lily was amped up for the performance. She even let me curl her hair. I let her borrow a pair of my shoes. You see it's sort of a special night, and also one I kind of dread. There I said it, and I'm not going to take it back. What I dread about it is that feeling of being a shy and introverted girl in a gym full of outgoing extroverts. Small talk is not my forte and all the chatter sort of rattles me to my core. It literally is my every insecurity on steroids. Lily had to be there a half hour before the concert and that girl is the very definition of punctuality. Mike was with Ted at a baseball game so the girls were flying solo. I had a book to pass the time, but was all too aware of the message putting my nose into it would convey. It looks snotty when it really is sanity.
Turns out I didn't have to crack it because an old friend found me, and we spent that 30 minutes catching up. She has a lovely daughter Ted's age. It's funny because the two of us also met in middle school and were good friends for many years. Then I went away to college. She married and moved away and we lost touch. Nothing happened except life. We both moved close to home again, and while we are not close like we once were, there is a familiarity and genuine bond that we'll always share.
We started talking about how hard it is to be a young girl in this day and age: the age of social media. For the record, it also takes thick skin and a level head to be the mother of a young girl. We agreed that we were never so exclusive or mean-spirited as girls are today, and our mothers never ever got involved in our relationships. We also didn't refer to one another with acronyms like bff and bae, or constantly post pictures of our venti caramel macchiatos and then tag all the people we consumed them with. It was a much different world: simpler, kinder, more innocent, and that just makes me sad.
I've had some vein of this conversation with numerous friends who are the mothers of daughters in the past few weeks. Strong women with bright, talented, beautiful girls so these dynamics seem pervasive and indiscriminate. Knowing that, I know what I need to do. I need to be my most authentic self and a strong role model for my daughter. I need to not confuse my insecurities with those she harbors because she is also the definition of comfortable in her own skin. I need to refrain from projecting my desires and expectations on her because she is not me. We are so much alike, but we are also very different. And I need to truly take to heart what my Mom told me many times when my heart was heavy over a hurting friendship. She would tell me, "Quality over quantity my dear. If you can count your friends on one hand, you are lucky." She was right.
The concert was great. I got the chills a few times. The level of talent these young performers possess when they come together sends electricity into the air. Together. That realization was as telling for me as some of the song choices : True Colors, Stand by Me and Hey Brother. The universe is always talking and sometimes...oftentimes the message I hear cracks me wide open.