The title of this post is inspired by my second favorite website marketing beef to tweens as a hot commodity (I used to link to it here but it looks like the domain has been purchased by some nasty site so this post is a little out of date.). Okay, it’s really my first favorite website hawking beef to tweens. Okay, I think it’s the only one. But that doesn’t matter. All I’m hoping for with this intro is to become the number one google search result for “beef and tweens.” That would be really… something.
Today I want to say “it’s cool to be real.” It’s okay to experience “negative” emotions, to feel hurt, betrayed, alone, abandoned, afraid or even angry. I hear so many women (myself included) expressing raw, heartfelt emotions and then apologizing for them or brushing them aside as a product of weakness, hormones, or some flaw of personality.
As a new mom, I became friends with an amazing girl. She is beautiful, kind, loving, positive and strong. We had children close in age and got together quite often for playdates, even when our first-borns were too young to drool in unison, let alone play together. During these times we would talk about our lives, share pleasant stories about mutual acquaintances and talk about how wonderful and glorious motherhood was.
After countless visits with this friend, there remained a wall between us that I felt could not be penetrated. I enjoyed our excursions together and came to the conclusion that for some inexplicable reason, we would never be truly close. Then one day, she confided in me that the past several months had been extremely hard for her. Although our children were almost a year old, her daughter was still rarely sleeping for more than 2 hours at a time without waking up. She was worn out and fed up and very cautiously expressed her feelings of frustration.
I was stunned and felt suddenly closer to her than I had ever felt. I finally saw past her perfect veneer to someone with doubts, fears and frustrations.
She quickly apologized for speaking negatively of her child. She thought it was inappropriate to express those feelings out loud, while I was thinking how refreshing it was to know that I wasn’t the only one who was struggling. I now see that conversation as a turning point in our friendship, a moment that has allowed us to grow closer and form a more solid connection.
I have friends who have been betrayed but apologize for feelings of resentment, friends who have suffered real loss but apologize for feelings of sadness, friends who have been marginalized or berated by someone they trusted but apologize for feeling angry or confused.
I’m not advocating wallowing in pools of self-pity or refusing to take control of your life. What I’m suggesting is that it’s okay to just feel and be, to linger for a moment and experience emotions that are real and poignant before we pshaw them away, fix our mascara and put on our “happy face.”
Repressing feelings, discrediting them or imagining them into oblivion to avoid the appearance of weakness does nothing but magnify the emotions and cause problems down the line.
I learned early on in my mothering that I did not want to marginalize my children’s feelings. I would catch myself saying, “You’re not sad!” when I felt that Laylee was crying “for no reason.” It took a while to realize that if she’s feeling it, it’s a real emotion, whether I can personally identify with it or not. Some of the things her little heart breaks over seem downright silly to me, but if I tell her she has no right to be sad or afraid, will she feel that she can confide in me as she grows up to be one of those beef-eating, junior-high-struggling tweens?
Our relationships grow stronger when we allow each other to see inside our quiet hurts and to “bear one another’s burdens that they may be light.” It’s cool to be real, and hey — beef has a lot of protein and whatnot.