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.
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.
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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- Motherhood, bullying, and “being pretty”. (howtoruinatoddlersday.wordpress.com)