Archive | September 2014

Help! My Daughter’s In A Friendship Triangle

Before my daughter started school, I prayed (literally, said prayers) that she would find her way socially with ease and joy.  “Please let her be like her father– easy-going, adaptable, friendly, confident.”  When I got really desperate, I begged God to spare her the dark sides of my personality and keep her from being too insecure, desperate, dramatic, histrionic, low self-esteemy.

I was pleased when my prayers were answered and she seemed to be “in the flow” socially and found a great group of friends.  Actually, she found two best friends, darling little girls who share her abiding love of coloring and exercising executive leadership skills. 

Two.  There’s two of them.  And you know what that means, right?

My daughter’s in a friendship triangle.  Kindergarteners, ya’ll.   Already I’m having to navigate my daughter (and myself) through the gauntlet of a threesome.  Someone’s always left out.  When it’s my kid, we spend the ride home talking about how unfair it is that she’s stuck with me while her two other friends are together, having great adventures WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER.  When my kid is on the upside of the friendship seesaw, I breath a tenuous sigh of relief.  Because it’s only a matter of time before she’s crying again.  Left out again.

Friendship’s hard, ya’ll.

It’s been massively triggering.  It brings up every relic of my own friendship triangles, a configuration I carried into my 30’s.  It’s been an opportunity to look back at my own past, relive some hurts and ultimately heal.  I like to think that revisiting my own friendship struggles will help my daughter work through her own feelings.  I found that engraved into my cells is the exhausting experience of trying to keep up with two other friends.  Trying to be sure I’m still “in.”  Scrambling, chasing, clawing at every opportunity to keep a toehold in the relationship.

I don’t want this for either of my kids.  I realize there is no way to spare them their own experiences, but God, I sure want to.  How much is it going to suck when one day she comes home with a heartbreak over a friendship’s end?  It’s going to happen.  Even when it’s for the best, it hurts in a way that’s as deep as death and as immediate as a broken bone.

But then again, it’s the failed friendships that taught me what I most value in friends: humor, emotional availability, loyalty, honesty.

When the day comes that either of my kids arrives at the Heartbreak Hotel– Friendship Edition, I’m going to hand them this book.  It’s written by women who survived and thrived through the vicissitudes of relationships with friends.  These authors survived and so will my kids.

myotherex

Order the book: My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends by clicking here.

Advertisements

Sick of Hearing Myself Say “No Thanks, I’m Fine”

keep_calm_and_say_yes__by_pikachu1452-d5bpojs

By 9:10 AM I’d already turned down an offer for water, one for breakfast, one for an extra napkin and one for company on my five-block walk to work.  Pretty curious behavior for someone who purportedly wants capital M more out of life.

If I can’t even accept a fistful of napkins from a friend, how exactly do I expect to take in the big ticket items? (An agent, a publisher, a pension, a Disney vacation)

I watched myself systematically and reflexively say “no, no, I’m fine” repeatedly yesterday.  It was the same “no” that keeps me from accepting hot tea from the lady who trims my hair or my neighbor’s offer to watch the kids while I make dinner when Jeff’s out of town.  It’s my knee-jerk, my go-to, my happy place.  This “no” broadcasts to the world my essential and subconscious mission statement: I’m not a person who can take in unbidden offers of kindness, help or pleasure; I’ve got everything taken care of thankyouverymuch.

But here’s the deal.  I actually was thirsty that day when Anna was cutting my hair, but I couldn’t take her up on the offer for hot tea.  And when my friend offered to buy me a yogurt parfait for breakfast? I was fucking starving– I’d just been to spin class.  But I thought, no, I have a Clif bar in my purse so … so … I’ll just say no and watch her eat.  When my neighbor offered to watch the kids so I could put my cauliflower concoction in the oven, it would have been so much better to say yes.  Had I said yes, the kids and I would have had dinner before 7:30 PM, before the epic meltdowns, before the power struggles over who has to wear a pull-up to bed, before I resorted to sneak-eating ice cream in the downstairs bathroom.

It would have been so much better to say yes.

I gave “yes” a spin today.  I let someone hold the gym door open for me while I swiveled my double BOB stroller through it.  I’ve done that move 50 times and never accepted help.  It took three seconds out of this guy’s life to help me out.  I said yes.  I didn’t die.  I simply got through the door without trying to half-heave the stroller and 85 lbs of my own flesh & blood through a three-foot opening.

After that, I decided I’d accept any offers to receive for the next two hours.  Lucky for this old creature of habit, none were lobbed my way.  But, I’m putting “yes” on notice: I’m coming to get you.  I’m coming to grab you with my own sticky paws.  I’m going to hold you up to the light and examine you from every single angle.  In a few months, I’m going to be all Yes! to napkins! Yes! to babysitting! Yes! to free scalding hot beverages!

Yes! to help and pleasure and kindness and attention.

Because the price of “no thanks, I’m fine” is too high to ignore.

This entry was posted on September 17, 2014. 35 Comments

On Setting a Ceiling and a Personal Record (“PR”)

I’m fond of posing rhetorical questions to myself.  Lately, my favorite: Who put this ceiling up?  By ceiling, I mean limitations, and I’ve got an answer to my question.

 

runner

 

On August 11, 2005, I ran a 5K race really fucking fast.  Blazing speed, huffing lungs, endorphin rush– the whole damn deal.  The race was a charity event for Chicago Volunteer Legal Services and because we lawyers are fucking hilarious it was called “Race Judicata.” FN 1.  On the way home from the race, my boyfriend summer fling broke up with me with the piercing line: “You’re not The One.”

I took it exactly as you’d expect.  I hurled my favorite Tag fruit bowl on the floor and cabbed it to my best friend’s house where I slept cried on her guest bed all night long.  The next morning at work I kept my door shut and informed my secretary that I was not accepting visitors.  I was busy waiting for my therapist to call me and tell me it would be okay.

In my grief, I checked my official time for the race. 24:44 (7:57 minutes per mile), a PR.

My time was a small consolation for the heartache.  “At least I ran faster than I ever had before.”

It was fun to set a PR.  I was 32– single (suddenly), childless and fast.  I was sure I’d never beat that time.  How could I possibly?

Every year I would see the sign-up sheets for the annual Race Judicata, and I’d sneer.  As much as I loved my PR, I didn’t like the memory of my post-race dump.  I swore I’d never run that blasted race again.

And while I am a woman of high integrity who keeps her word 99% of the time, I retracted here.  When folks from my office organized a group to run this year’s race, I relented.  After all, my story had a happy ending– I met and married someone exceedingly better for me than Race Dumper, and we have two beautiful children.  I was done with the ghosts of Race Judicata past.

“Sign me up,” I cried, fist to the air.

It wasn’t in my plan to set a PR.  Impossible.  For God’s sake, I’m 41, I’ve got a 10-inch scar on my lower abdomen from my children’s births, and breasts that are still nursing.  The last thing I need is a PR.

Maybe it was the perfectly ripe banana I ate right before the race.  Or the Amy’s enchiladas frozen entrée I ate for lunch.  Maybe it was the breeze off the Lake that evening or the fact that I wanted to go home and eat dinner with my family.  I don’t know, but I did it: I PR’ed the goddamned Race Judicata, clocking in at 24:37.  Not by much, obviously.  Though, I’d argue that 7 seconds is significant in a wide range of important contexts.

Like this one.

This one where I said over and over (to myself), “Your PR days are over.  You’re middle-aged.  Your’re a mother.  You’re probably closer to an artificial hip than a PR.”

Folks, none of that was true.  None of the bullshitty, limiting things I said to myself about this 5K race were accurate.  My C-section scars and my unevenly shaped breasts didn’t keep me from besting my 32-year-old self’s best time.

Absolutely nothing physical keeps me from reaching any finish line I choose.  It’s the thoughts, each one a brick creating a ceiling above my head that requires me to crouch and stoop and, more importantly, hides the limitless sky from view.

So, who put up the ceiling?

I did.

FN1: Race judicata is a play on words.  It refers to the legal principle “res judicata,” which shares its pronunciation with “race judicata” and is Latin for “a matter already judged.”   In both civil law and common law legal systems, a case in which there has been a final judgment and is no longer subject to appeal; and the legal doctrine bars (or precludes) continued litigation of a case on same issues between the same parties. In this latter usage, the term is synonymous with “preclusion”.  In the case of res judicata, the matter cannot be raised again, either in the same court or in a different court. A court will use res judicata to deny reconsideration of a matter.

See how hilarious the law is?

WAKE UP! You’ve got to go get the kids and file your expense report!  Get Going!