I saw a universal truth in action today.
It was the day for birthday parties. Both Uno and Dos had party invitations – in different zip codes, nonetheless. So Lizard and I split the family and got our kids off to their parties.
When I got to the 4-year-old party I started in my stereotypical party activity: hit the veggie tray making small talk with various people on the way, see if any conversations are easy and fun, and if not hang out with my mouth full of cake and celery so everyone will think I’m very hungry rather than awkward with small talk.
Shortly after devouring six pieces of celery and some bean dip I saw a woman come through the door who was amazingly thin, had long, beautiful hair perfectly colored and highlighted; she was impossibly attractive and put together as she carted a car seat on one hip.
When I heard her say her baby was four-months-old I had a moment of self-directed frustration… I also have a four-month-old yet I wear yoga pants instead of skinny jeans and my hair is in desperate need of a trim.
When this beautiful gal turned to face me full-on I realized she was familiar in a sea of unknown mamas! It was the gal who used to cut my hair! I love her – I have travelled from out of state to get my hair cut by her. She’s not only amazing with a pair of shears, she’s one of the sweetest individuals I’ve ever met!
I quickly reassessed my initial stab of jealousy. I smiled, reintroduced myself, wiped cracker crumbs from the corners of my mouth and started up a conversation with this poised woman.
As our conversation meandered, I learned her newest child, that sweet four-month-old that left nary a trace of fat on her thin hips, had a hard time keeping anything down and cried lots and lots.
She asked me if I’d ever had a child who threw up a lot and I looked at her and said, “Oh, Honey. My child could nail a fly on the far wall with a well-placed projectile vomit – she spent the first six months of her life screaming bloody murder!”
Something in my friend relaxed when I told her that having a colicky child is still one of the experiences I’m surprised I survived. As she listened with wide eyes, I admitted that Dos had been such a hard child, screaming non-stop, that I had questioned why we had another child at all, that I had had to lay her down, crying violently, so that I would not shake her in frustration.
Looking at that child showed me the absolute ugliness of my own character. I hated it. It also knocked me down a few pegs and helped me realize every human is capable of both greatness and evil.
(When we started giving Dos some solid foods, things magically changed. I will forever be grateful for Gerber Rice Cereal and Yum-Yum biter biscuits!)
I admitted these things to her because I could. I’ve had to face my dragons and come to peace with them. They aren’t the boogie-man fears in the closet because I know how to name them by name and call them out. But she’s encountering them for the first time.
In my admission I saw something in her relax. She realized she wasn’t alone in her struggle. She whispered that this child of hers that was crying so often was breaking her heart and driving her to distraction.
We found a heartfelt common ground. It was good… it was sweet.
Why do women try to impress each other? Why are we quick to offer judgment on others?
What would be different if we all admitted our dirty little struggles and provided authentic community to support one another and walked hand-in-hand through life?
That’s the universal truth, my friends. We’re all hurting a little. We’re all really great at something. We’re all insecure about something, even if we have the figure to rock the skinny jeans.
Admitting our faults – and acknowledging our strengths – doesn’t break us down. In the right group that vulnerability is literally a lifesaver. And that is good.
”It’s Over. Time to pee on the campfire and call in the dogs.”
This post was originally published with the title “Keeping It Real” on November 17, 2012 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!