I commented on a status the other day that at least reaching our thirties meant we embraced an age of being comfortable in our skin. That it was a good age to be. Despite everything that has happened, being in my thirties has been the age I have been happiest about myself. I’m fatter, plainer and duller than I’ve ever been, but I’m loved, I know what matters and I do the thing which is currently most important well. I’m a good mum and I get through the days okay.
Some people, the people who know me best, know I’m utterly fallible but fallible without malice. I say the wrong thing when I mean well, I over react at times, I bitch a bit too much. I speak because I care, I react hard because I care hard, I mutter only about people I love quite a bit. I take things to heart too much. I over think. But while forgetfulness and too much on might mean I am an imperfect friend and certainly an imperfect mother, my heart is in the right place. I would go a long way to help a person if I could. I’ll do my best to support someone in a crisis or an endeavour. I’ll always chip in if I can. I am generous and I am grateful for help and support too. I don’t always show it hard enough. I’m never going to turn up at your home with casserole if something terrible happens but I will certainly send Hama Beads. Honestly, you wouldn’t want my casserole, so don’t knock the beads.
There are some things I am rubbish at. I can’t do small talk. I’m not funny in person. I’m crippled by how bad I feel about being short, fat and unimpressive to look at. I’m not a fun night out. I’m not laid back, easy going, a laugh a minute, one of the girls. I never get invited out because I’m not interesting to be with that way. I’m earnest, thoughtful and just a bit boring. I wasn’t ever much good at the quip, the snigger or the naughty joke and the last few years have wiped the last of that out of me. I can’t dance, I’m not silly, people who know me casually don’t really like me that much. What started at school, an utter discomfort in myself that I couldn’t overcome has settled into knowing that in 85% of my life I’m a loner. I’m the ballet mum no one really wants to chatter to because I’m not lightweight conversation. I’m the gym mum who got left behind and stands alone in the waiting room while people hope I won’t talk to them. I’m the awkward rugby mum who doesn’t know how to have casual conversation. Enough people like me a lot for that to not matter mostly.
What I do know is that I irritate people deeply for caring about what is happening for my children. I know it annoys people that actually I think being allowed to be trusted with my girls is a privilege for those people, not my girls. I know that it is only too clear that the relentless disregard people have for me affects the opportunities they get now. I know that people sneer at me for thinking I have a right to be involved in their lives. I know they go from 0-60 in irritation levels because I think I know them, know what is best for them, might like to be involved in things they love and are passionate about. I know I’m the mum that teachers roll their eyes about because I’m asking to be sure they are happy. But actually, I’m mostly paying, so I think I’m entitled to be involved
I’ve been the gauche one in the corner all my life. People think it is a flaw you can do something about. People think you can just get confident, be better at casual friendships, be a lower maintenance human, get thinner, learn to love yourself, just walk away and not mind about things. Oh, if only it were true. If I could change myself, I would have by now. Its not fun being the person who isn’t fun. It’s not fun being the person who doesn’t get invited to things and who no one really wants to sit next to. It’s not fun knowing you are annoying enough that you probably jeopardise your kids opportunities just because of who you are. It’s not fun being the person people sort of hope will sit alone, not next to you. It’s not even fun knowing it is sometimes all in my head and that if only I could make the jump, I would be better off.
I’m the kid who sits permanently at the top of the drop slide and never quite dares to experience the plunge. I never quite get the thrill because I’m always just too afraid someone is laughing at the fat girl who makes a bigger splash than the thin, fun party girls who deserve to be there.
But don’t think I don’t notice. Don’t think I don’t hurt to be left out, left behind, accidentally find out I got sneered at, laughed at, or stepped away from. I do know. And it hurts.
That’s always been the problem with everyone’s perception of the awkward, spotty, fat and boring girl in the story. People forget she’s a person. People forget to see past the person who gets it wrong at times to see the person who would blossom if she was included. People forget she would have a lot to offer if they stopped laughing at her and asked her along with the crowd.