When Mean Girls Grow Up into Mothers…

When you become a mother, you change. I don’t know a single Mom who would disagree with that statement. I’m not talking about the obvious changes like the lack of sleep, and feeling less put together. I’m talking about the less physically obvious changes. It changes your soul on some level. Your child becomes your focus. You’re very attuned to their needs, and wish there were someway to prevent them from ever feeling any sort of hurt or pain in their lives.

This is impossible of course. Everyone feels this way at some point in their lifetime. The first time you are dumped, you feel pain. The first time you are made fun of, you feel pain. The first time you fail, you feel pain. Though there are some people who get it worse than others. Some people are picked on so mercilessly that every day is painful. For a brief span in my school days, that person was me.

Grades 6 though 9 could only be described by me as hell. I never had a problem making friends. I always had lots of friends for as long as I could remember. In the 4th grade I moved schools and was very nervous about the change I would be encountering. After the first day, however, my fear had quickly disappeared. I met great friends almost immediately. One in particular who I would call my best friend. We were inseparable, and spent every single day together. Until one day I showed up at school to face a wall of girls who were supposedly my friends. They had all been talking behind my back, and just decided collectively that I wasn’t cool anymore, and was no longer best friends with “her”. I tried to ask for an explanation and was simply laughed at, mocked, and ridiculed as they all turned away from me to form a circle and exclude the girl who was now the butt of the jokes. Overnight, my world changed…and I hadn’t done a single thing.

Every day for four years, I was the girl on the left.

Every day for four years, I was the girl on the left.

There was still one girl though, who continued to be friends with me despite what the cool girls said. After a while though, those cool girls made it their mission to take away the one person I had left. They didn’t like that I had a friend. One friend to call my own. So they went into my desk, took my eraser and wrote her name on it. Then they scratched it out and wrote a rude comment next to her name. Next thing I know I’m being confronted by my one last friend asking why I would write something so nasty about her. I was dumbfounded and had no idea what she was talking about. She showed me the eraser, and I knew instantly it wasn’t my handwriting. It was too loopy and pretty. But how do you convince the one friend you have left that the eraser with the mean things on it she was shown (by the mean girls) in your desk wasn’t written by you? You can’t. The result? My one friend was gone.

t1larg.blanco_bullies

Looking back it sounds like such a silly thing. When you’re 12 years old though, it is psychological warfare. I was now isolated. I dreaded recess. I dreaded lunch hours. I dreaded the walk home from school. The summer before entering Middle School for about one week they all talked to me again. They were scared about starting a new bigger school and thought if we showed up in a big group it would look better. So I was included again and thought (naively) that it was my chance to show them all I really wasn’t the freak they made me out to be. It didn’t last, and life went back to being hell.

Thankfully, once I hit High School everything changed for me and I separated myself completely from the girls I used to know. I made friends there who I still keep in contact with, and who are genuinely amazing people. I’m glad I made it through those years, and that it was before the days of cyber bullying. I fear if I had to go through this in this day and age at the tender age of 12, and had to deal with internet bullying as well, I may not have made it to the High School days.

Which made me think…

I was remembering all of this as I was driving my daughter to my Mom’s this morning. I was wondering how I could ensure that my daughter would never have to go through feeling isolated and made to feel like she isn’t worth the dirt on the bottom of someone’s shoe. Then I realized – a lot of those “cool girls” are now mom’s. They have children of their own, who have just started, or will soon be starting school.

Like I said before, becoming a mother changes you. So I wonder if now from a mother’s perspective, they ever look back at just how awful they were as kids. I wonder if they realize what pain they made another girl feel. I wonder if they’ve ever thought to themselves that maybe the adult in them should have reached out and apologized? I wonder if their kids will end up being the mean girl, or the sad girl. I wonder if they wonder….

I do know that they can’t claim to be oblivious to the pain they caused me to feel. It was a daily occurrence for four years, and subtlety was not their forte. They liked getting in your face about it so that they had front row seats to the soul slashing. It seemed to give them a rush when they could see someone suffering. I was not the only one they did it to.

Now I have a daughter, and bullying hasn’t stopped. If anything, it has become more rampant, and harder for children to escape. It makes me wonder: Do bullies grow up to raise future bullies? Where does the cycle end? If they themselves were the bullies and not the bullied, how can they have the proper perspective to teach their children about the damage their actions can cause? Do they even feel a twinge of guilt when they say to their kids “Oh don’t do that, that’s not nice”, knowing that they themselves were the not nice kids?

Motherhood has changed me.

Has it changed them?

 

 

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21 thoughts on “When Mean Girls Grow Up into Mothers…

  1. This is a really profound realization and I applaud you for being so open about your experiences. I think these issues are so relatable for women – and we’ve all been on both sides of the mean girl/victim coin, probably more often than we might guess about one another.

    A good friend of mine actually does research in the area of our girlhood experiences with “mean girls” and has a great collection of videos on the topic. I had the pleasure of being a facilitator as part of the workshop aspect of the project where we helped empower young girls by giving them ways to express themselves, share their experiences, and discover these common threads we share. I HIGHLY recommend watching some of the videos, in particular the ones on friendship and bullying (found at http://www.girltalkvideo.com/videos/).

    • Thank you so much for your feedback. I will definitely take a peek at those videos when I can find an ounce of free time.

      It felt good to get it all out there. Who knows, maybe someday down the line they will read it an it will be a full circle moment for them.

  2. Oh wow..this brought a tear to my eye and made my blood boil at the same time. Those nasty people owe you an apology for those things! Seriously, people should own up to what they’ve done. And with social media these days, it would be so easy to do. This scares the hell out of me as my daughter starts kindergarten on Monday and will no longer be there for me to watch and help out in tough situations. I was bullied around 6-8 grade too and it sucked. I’ve dreaded the school years since my daughters birth and now that we’re here and I am just hoping and praying for the best. I’m going to be involved in the school so I can keep a distant eye on what’s going on.

    • It is terrifying to think how out of control it is.
      I’m much older now, so it is easy to look back at those years as “teaching moments” for myself. If anything it built up my character a bit and taught me to appreciate true friendships and how lasting and valuable they are.
      Who knows. Maybe down the line those mean girls will stumble upon this blog post and realize the effect their words can have on someone’s soul.
      I hope my daughter doesn’t go through it though. Not sure how to prevent it without having her go to the other end of the spectrum and be a mean girl. Middle ground is so hard to achieve I think.

  3. Some bullies change and others don’t. My cousin bulled me for years in school, especially in elementary school. She hasn’t changed. I haven’t talked to her in years. But another girl who was a bully I know, she changed and she is a great mom.

  4. Through Facebook I have come back into contact with some of the people from school. Some seem so different and so friendly. Others are kind of sad. I hate to admit, but there is a small, shallow part of me that finds it funny when I see one of the mean ones alone and lonely. I was one of the ‘fat girls’, but I have a husband I find very attractive and a beautiful family. I pray those who were bullies have learned to break the cycle. But I also know there still are bullies out there.

    • Your right, which makes me wonder if the acts of bullying were simply aggressive defense mechanisms for their own low self-esteem – for fear of being bullied themselves?
      I came out on the other end stronger for it, and with a deeper appreciation for the amazing friends I have to this day.

      • I don’t know if it’s to stop being bullied but sometimes it carried out by kids who are bullied at home. It’s their opportunity to be powerful. And it’s modeling behaviour. Not that I’m a psych or anything but I’m sure these are all things I’ve heard before.

  5. Very insightful. I never really experienced hard core bullying but I’m scared for my kids, I tell them to stay away and not mind what the bullies might say to them but the husband is teaching my son to stand his ground as long as he is in the right. I sure don’t want my kids to grow up wimpy but I also do not want them to get in a fight as a way of stand up against bullies. I actually don’t know how to properly deal with it.

    • I think finding a balance is really hard, and something I’m struggling with how to handle in the future as well.
      I don’t want her to feel so insecure that she won’t stand up for herself, but I also don’t want her to be so cocky that she’ll take it out on others.
      I have to somehow find the middle ground…

  6. I went through the same. Bullying was just a part of growing up for me. Most people say they wish they were a child again… I would never want to relive those years. I am now a mom expecting number four. Want to hear something ironic? My oldest is the bully!!! How? I ha made it my mission for her not to go through what I did. I looked at all of the reasons I was picked on (lack of brand name clothing, bad hair etc) and made sure my daughter had none of them. You can imagine how I felt when I realized she had become the bully, mostly because of my own actions.

    • Just remember though, your actions had very good intentions.
      I am trying to figure out how to handle it with my daughter when she gets to school. I don’t know how to achieve that middle ground – where she isn’t so insecure that she doesn’t stand up for herself, but isn’t so cocky that she takes it out on others. I think it is a difficult balance to achieve!

  7. Not a nice experience, you say it may sound insignificant but we can all remember how important friendship groups are at that age (and any age, I hear some folks still act like this even as adults!).
    I think the best way to protect our kids is to teach them self love, to be assertive and to confide in us by keeping the parent child relationship healthy and not always about a power struggle.
    I’m sure sharing this has had some curative value, that’s the beauty of writing. I wish you well!

    • Thank you so much.
      It did feel somewhat good to get it all out there. Not nearly as good as I think confronting them in person would have felt though. 😉
      I think you’re very right. I hope to be able to achieve that balance while raising my daughter, so that she is neither a victim or a bully. It’s a scary job, being a parent.

  8. What a wonderfully, thought provoking post. I wish I knew the answers to your questions. I was also bullied as a child, but not the same extent as you were. I always wonder what makes them choose their targets, and what are they getting out of their bad behavior? I hope that your daughter (and mine) never have to go through this!

    • I have no idea what made them choose me. I was “best friends” with one of the main “cool girls” for nearly 3 years, then all of a sudden it was “Ummmm just so you know, she’s my best friend now, not you”. Which translated to “Ummm just so you know, I’ve decided you aren’t worthy to have any friends, therefore we are all against you from now on”.
      Just awful, really. But like I said, I made better friends. Ones with true character and charisma, who are strong and intelligent and warm. Ones who aren’t so easily influenced by others.
      In the end, it was all for the best.

  9. I doubt they have changed. When I see how some people treat there children (or lack of treatment) and think… I bet you have not grown as a person AT ALL! It’s a soul thing and till I see prof of change … I believe it doesn’t exist. Which is sad because I am a fairly optimistic person. Guess that doesn’t help!

  10. I would like to think that these mean girls change but one girl specifically that I went to school with, who bullied me, has a daughter now. She is still a mean girl and has raised her daughter to be one, too. Mean girls are everywhere. I’ve encountered several adult women who are still high school, petty mean girls. Some people never change. :/

  11. Really interesting question. I think for some mother’s it probably does change them and they probably feel very guilty whenever they think back to that time in their lives. But some of these women will never mature emotionally and will probably to continue to behave this way as adults. They are the ones you need to watch. I had my fair share of bullying over the school years although none for as long as that so have some idea how you must have felt. I really feel for you. It must have been so awful. The idea that someone else could make my son feel that way makes my heart break completely. I really hope it’s not too much of an issue once he gets to school. I don’t know about over there but here people are working very hard to eradicate bullying. We can only hope that it works and do our bit as parents to not allow it to come from our children.

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