Tag: go girl

What I Learned from All of My Life’s Mothers

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My momma and I. Look at that hair (and my lack thereof)!

My friends often joke with me about how much I love moms.

What I mean is, I love when my friends get to spend time with their moms (and dads and step-parents and the other amazing combinations of people who love them), and I love when I get to spend some of that time with them, too.

The most important thing I’ve learned while growing up is how amazing it is to have a positive relationship with your parents—and for me, as a woman, with my mother and the other women in my life. I know that everyone isn’t as lucky, that sometimes family just doesn’t meld well, or is a source of pain or stress or negative feeling.

But having some positive adult influences in your life, even if its a mentor, a friend’s family, or a neighbor is so huge.

Because these mommas are superheroes. I mean, they carry you around and feed you for much longer than most people are capable of doing anything consecutively, and then they force you out of a tiny hole in a very uncomfortable procedure just to have you poop all over them for the next few years. And sometimes they do it again so you can have someone to play with. If that’s not a superhero, I don’t know what is.

When you can find even just one momma who uses those powers to propel their babies through the first days, the new allergies and old tricks, the heartbreak and flunked classes, homesickness and first times for everything, hold on tight.

I don’t remember when I started calling my grade school best friend’s mother, Momma E., but what soon followed was a number of “mommas” I could call my own while I was playing with their kids, or calling home on their big house phones (what are those?) to see if I could sleep over, or while they gave us a ride home from a party or school dance, or when they, like my own mother, stayed up to greet us with water and snacks after late nights, just to be sure we made it home alright.

These mommas dealt with our petty bickering and relationship troubles, they soaked up tears, became sources of unfair-ness, and of laughter (usually at their expense) for the many children they adopted when they said, those many years ago: “Why don’t you invite your new friend over for dinner?”

254179_2070985982955_4580363_nAnd my own mom has shared those feelings and has bonded with those other daughters and sons and mommas over friendships and prom nights, during graduations and tough times. She has come home from the grocery store with my favorite snacks and a message from another of my mommas she ran into. But this original momma, she is teaching me everything I need to know about being the woman I want to be. Because I see that woman in little pieces in all of my mommas, but they are all tethered together in her. She taught me to be the Go Girl! I am, she just didn’t know it had a name until now.

And I know that Mother’s Day is just another Hallmark Holiday designed to test the (spending) strength of the love for our mommas. But it’s also the day I use to reach out to all of my life’s mommas: the women in my life who may not be my mother, but who care for me like one. It’s a day to celebrate the love and joy they bring to our lives, and also a day to make them brunch. Pancakes are the least we can do, don’t you think?

When I Was a Boy

I hurt my knees three weeks ago doing something in a movement class I knew I shouldn’t. I’ve never had any trouble with my knees, even after years of running, dancing, and tumbling. So I’m icing them like a fiend, popping ibuprofen at regular intervals, and switching over to swimming.

Sitting with ice packs a few nights ago, I had a good look at my knees. I noticed a scar on my left one I got while riding a bike down Oriole Street. I was five and didn’t yet have a two-wheeler of my own. I didn’t know the bike couldn’t brake and, trying to stop, I flew over the handlebars. The bloody knee hurt like anything, but I was okay. I think I got back on the bike. I also have a faint white scar on the top of one of my ankles. It’s from when I lay stomach-down on the seat of a swing, twisted myself up as tight as I could and let go. I spun at light speed, only stopping when my ankles skidded across the concrete gouge where sand should’ve been. The instep of my left foot bears a purple mark I got from a piece of glass. Nobody ever wore shoes during the summer. We were tanned on top and callused on the bottom. All the boys and girls were a fierce and merry little band of men, raising polliwogs, visiting the bulldog family in the alley, checking on the decay of a dead black cat.

We were girls and we were boys and we were the same.Rachel Brown, age 4

When I was a boy I seldom had long hair, and a new set of sneakers could set me running faster than anybody.

When I was a boy I rode my Big Wheels tricycle all the way to Richard’s house, before I turned 6 and got my yellow Schwinn Fair Lady. Then I was flying to 7-11 for Big Daddy bubble gum and Tootsie Rolls.

When I was a boy I painted masterpieces at a huge easel, and dug for gold with my sister in our sliver of a backyard, next to the sunflowers. When I was a boy I wore Toughskins jeans, and played with a Tonka jeep and a Fischer-Price airport. I piloted a jetliner! I could climb to the top of the hanging ropes faster than the twins, Kyle and Carl, when I was a boy…

…Except I was a girl, and didn’t have to pretend, then, that all of it belonged to me. It just did. When did we all have to begin to choose a side? Maybe at 12 when my light had to be refracted through separate lenses, and only select rays could fall. Resisting this half-life, I brushed my hair down over my eyes, covered my body in shapeless clothes, wore my eyeglasses like a disguise. The boy and the girl partially smothered, partially tapping out an S-O-S in Morse code: Save Our Self! we said. We’re saying it still, pulsing the message into the palm of each other’s hand…