Sunday, February 26, 2012

Be yourself

A few weekends ago, we were driving by a strip mall when Allie asked, "Mommy, what's that store over there that starts with a J?"


My little fashionistas had not yet been introduced to the world of Justice. (Kudos to the marketing department though. Your sign alone was enough to grab my four year old's attention.)

I have a friend with a seven year old daughter so I know all about Justice. The clothes don't necessarily bother me although I do find some items to be a little too risque for elementary school aged girls and their constant 40% off marketing is a bit annoying. What bothers me is that there are 5 and 6 year old girls who want clothes from this store because this is what everyone else is wearing.

Right now, my girls love clothes regardless of the store. They aren't aware of "brands" and don't know the difference between Gymboree and Target. I am constantly asked to sew dresses and skirts and it makes me sad to think that one day my offer to sew clothing will be met with a "but Mom, that's not cool."

I want my kids to be themselves and I know that sometimes life isn't easy. It isn't easy when you're the new kid in junior high and your parents can't spend the extra money to buy you clothes from Esprit and Benetton or Reebok sneakers or a Swatch watch (never mind 3 or 4) and that's what most of your new classmates are wearing.

I hope to find a happy middle ground with my children. My parents certainly tried their best.

My parents may remember differently but when I was a child, the only trendy toy I had to have was a Cabbage Patch Kid. This was back in the '80s when adults lined up at store entrances and threw punches in order to buy these dolls. I finally received one for Christmas from my grandmother. And it was a boy. {sob} I changed the name on the birth certificate, tied bows in his hair and sewed a billion doll dresses because I had to have a girl.

Here's a conversation I had with Allie and Em the other night:

Allie - "Can we get Wuzzle Puts? Please, please?"

Em - "Yeah, we saw an ad. We really want them."

Me - "What are Wuzzle Puts?"

Allie - "You can hook them onto backpacks. C and K have them on their backpacks and we really, really want them."

Me - "Are they really called Puts?"

Allie {giggling} - "Ooooh. No, no. Pets."

(I have since gone online and found that the real name is Wuggle Pets. I told the girls to ask their friends for Wuggle Pets for their birthday.)

The girls do watch television but we make a concerted effort to limit exactly how much and it's been impossible to avoid commercials. What got to me was the whole "because our friends have them" feeling. When are they going to start asking for iPhones because kids are starting everything younger and younger these days.

A few months ago, I brought Allie to a birthday party for one of her classmates. I was able to watch her interact with one of her "best" friends. (This school year, there are 2 girls in her class who seem to be her closet friends.) What shocked me was how much their relationship reminded me of the one I had with my closest friend in college, Suzi. Allie was so much like me and her friend so much like Suzi. (The resemblance is actually a little freaky.)

I told Rich that we are in for a wild ride, especially when the girls hit middle school.

I also worry that Anna will be teased or feel left out. I have hopes that her sisters and her strength will prevent that from happening.

Girls befriended me in junior high and I'm lucky to still have those same friends today. Here and there, we lose touch with one another as we all lead different lives but we can pick back up as if we never lost any time.

College started off rough for me. My mom worked at a large university in the city so I attended tuition free. At the request of my parents, I commuted and I hated it because I felt like I wasn't making friends as a commuter. Freshman year was really hard. I knew people but I didn't feel like I fit in anywhere.

And then Suzi, a cool girl, befriended me and I couldn't figure out why. Over the next few years, my friendships grew and I had a blast. College was a fantastic experience for me. I grew as a person and I realized that even though I felt like an oddball, I wasn't.

There have been so many times in my life where I felt like I didn't fit in. I never ever thought I would be saying that about blogging but it's true. I feel like I'm excluded from certain circles because I don't buy my clothes from ModCloth or Anthropologie or Forever 21 (because 21 came and went a long ass time ago.) I don't wear those glasses with frames covering half my face because you know what? I HAD to wear those glasses in 1989 when I failed the eye exam at the DMV after passing the written exam for my learner's permit. It sucked. My father took me to an ancient eye doctor and I was given the choice of 25 frames. It didn't matter - they were basically all the same. Trendy, hip or not, I will never wear glasses like that again.

We don't eat or wear all organic. (We do buy organic milk and sometimes other organic foods.) My kids play with mainstream plastic toys instead of all organic wooden ones. I could go on and on. Whatever. I'm not going to pretend to be someone I'm not for the sake of blog popularity.

Some life lessons can't be taught. You need to experience and learn on your own. I can only hope that I give my children the support they need to just be themselves. Be you - it's the best person you can be.

(Me being me with Em)



Allison said...

OMG...I laughed out loud at "because 21 came and went a long ass time ago" Fantastic post...keep on writing!

Laura said...

Look, I read some of those other mommy blogs because let's face it, they are entertaining, and as a mom, I enjoy reading other mommy bloggers. But I am in my mid-thirties. I would never wear some of those clothes/outfits because they look ridiculous on a grown woman. I know those bloggers are adults too, and I'm really not intending to put them down, but I have to laugh when I see some of that stuff. I might have liked that when I was in college, but it really has no place in my life today. And the glasses covering half your face? Yes, they still look goofy even if meant to be trendy/ironic.

I love reading your blog. Thanks for giving me a good laugh tonight.

Lily said...

Reading the statement about Anna made me realize I went to middle school with a set of triplets.

They were two girls and a boy. One of the girls had a disability. I don't know her actual diagnosis, but she took the elevator instead of the stairs, and she walked with a limp. They were a grade above me, so I never got to know them well enough to know specific family dynamics, but I am friends with all of them on Facebook. I did a bit of stalking, and I saw plenty of loving posts to that sister from her brother and sister.

You can't underestimate that bond. They shared a womb for 9 months....there will always be something there.

Marcia (123 blog) said...

Sarah, I love this post.

I'm also out in the Johannesburg blogging fraternity because I'm not cool enough, nor do I want to be different just to be cool.

It is very difficult sometimes because everyone else is in community and I'm not but the alternative (trying to fit in) feels so much worse for me.


B. said...

Love this post. I read lots of "mommy" blogs and love the different perspectives. Though I find it very hard to relate to those that write "what I wore" posts.

JEN said...

Lily's comment reminds me - I too went to junior high (before middle school thing now) with identical triplets. One was in my grade and the other two were in the grade below us.

I so wanted Guess stuff growing up. We were poor. I finally got one sweatshirt and wore it weekly, then got made fun of by the popular girls for wearing it too much.

Farah said...

I laughed out loud at the Forever 21 comment too! Well said. Honestly though, when I first started reading your blog, you had posted a photo with you and the girls (I think you're standing behind them and they are in a line in front of you), and I seriously thought you were in your 20s. I'm not just trying to be nice, you really do look great!

Your blog is my favorite mommy blog because you are real. And I also like what you said about the bloggers who "live organically" and are always dressed to impress. I totally agree. There is nothing wrong with plastic toys. My husband always says about the issue with organic food "Preservatives preserve me and make me live longer!" Lol.

Karen said...

I love your blog and I am so grateful you don't secretly accept gifts from sponsors and then pretend they are just your fun, cool finds. You treat your readers with respect. I also love that, when we do see you in pictures around your house, you're in pajama bottoms and a tank top or other casual clothes. That's me on a good day when I decide I should change out of my husband's t-shirt. Plus, you never have typos in your blog.
I never comment on blogs and these are random thoughts, but just know that so many of us like you because you are not like the other "mommy" bloggers.

Wendy said...

I really need to get the links to these redic mom blogs :*) Sarah, you're pretty rad, even if you're older than the hills :P love you loads.

Cindy said...

I just had this conversation with my 7 y/o daughter about being you and not pretending to be someone you aren't just to get people to like you. My girl is smart, into math and science and reading and Justin Bieber and sports and clothes. She is aware of how she looks compared to others. She is a stunning little one in every sense but she was upset because it's hard for her to make friends. She isn't shy, but she is quirky (she'll burst out in song at any given moment and has a sarcastic sense of humor). She was trying to hide her personality and I told her to just be her and you'll make friends who love you for you.

It's rough on kids. I certainly remember feeling left out and different. I remember wanting more than I had or better than I had. But I make sure that my girls see me being authentically me - on my good days and bad - and I hope that helps them see that it really is what is on the inside that counts.

And I'm right there with you on 21 being forever ago. I love this pic of you and Emily. You look great. And Emily is as precious as ever.

Becca said...

I loved this post! Especially the "21 came and went a long ass time ago." love. You are a great mom and I love that you don't pretend to be someone you're not!

Angela Bailey said...

A-FREAKING-MEN! You rock! :-) I'm so over the trendy bloggers. Who cares if you dress like you raided a thrift store but actually paid $300 for that dress you're wearing? Who cares that you're wearing glasses by CHOICE, when those of us who hated wearing ugly bug glasses back in the day had NO choice? Lame. I call BS. I call HIPSTER, which to me is equal to poser, faker, etc. (Being trendy for the sake of being trendy.) Blech.

Stick with your guns. Be you!


Stacey said...

I think most people feel this way! Most peope, in what I have learned, is that alot of women, especially moms, pretend to be more mainstream then would ever be possible, one kid or five. In my instance, my money is spent on them so that I can try and at least start them out living the way that I wished I could have lived when I was little. Lounge pants and t-shirts is just fine for me! I had a health since since third grade and was scared that people would make fun of me if it ever got "out" to my classmates, but after a seizure which involved falling down the stairs one weekend, I had to explain to my classmates why I went to school with stitches on my forehead and a black eye it was very apparant that they cared, almost exsesively, that I was doing ok. I think your girls have way to big of a bond that anyone could ever make Anna feel badly without getting in trouble with her sisters.

Oh, and my mom had to make me a Cabbage Patch Kid so that I could have one (there are 5 of us). That doll, although my favorite ever, never saw daylight I was so embarrassed to show my friends!

Gina said...

Thank you for this post!! Amen. I can completely relate to you as a mom.

mommytocutiepie said...

Sarah, your blog is the only blog that I read daily and keep coming back to. The reason... because you never waste my time with what you wore to work that day or write a boring post about somebody sending you an organic tshirt for the girls and if I write a comment, I too could win one too. Gag me with a spoon! I would much rather read about what the girls are up to. It puts a smile on my face. Plain and simple.

Hope's Mama said...

You (and your blog) are real and that's what I love about you and why I keep coming back.

wethreelyons said...

I love your blog! I found it on accident when my SIL started poster her blog on top baby blogs and I have been reading every since. I don't care what lifestyle anyone else lives as long as it's full of making the best choices you can make and loving on the people in your life....That's what matters to me the most...Not where you buy your clothes or groceries or if you have a butler hahaha....Great job writing!!!