I like to tell my children that their mommy wasn't always this gorgeous, this well-adjusted, this glamorous. I like to tell them that I did, indeed, have some awkward years.
I like to tell them that at one point in my young adolescence, I bore a very strong resemblance to Napoleon Dynamite.
"No way, mom" they said. "There's no way you looked like Napoleon Dynamite" they said.
"Prove it!" they said.
And so I did:
I am trying to figure out what, exactly, is the most painful thing about this photo. Is it the Grease t-shirt, worn over the plaid shirt? Is it the beige corduroys? The burgeoning muffin top? The hair....oh the humanity...is it the hair???
My kids howled. My daughter refused to believe that she and I are clones, even though this could seriously be Molly on Halloween.
It was funny to find this picture. It reminded me of a life I lived ages ago, a life when it was all I could do to hold it together until the end of the school day, and then have to brace myself for whatever the evening held in store for me. I look at this girl, this 12 or 13 year old girl sitting on her grandparent's couch, and my heart aches for her. I want to go back in time, settle down next to her, put my arms around her and tell her it's all going to be ok.
I want to tell her about contact lenses, about that dusty exercise bike in her basement, about how school and her doing well in it could totally be a ticket to happiness.
I want to tell her to cherish her friendships, tend to them as you would a new garden. Prune them now and then, figure out which ones bring out the best in her and deadhead those that bring out the worst.
I want to tell her that even though she feels unlovable at times, going to keggers and acting like an ass isn't going to get her that love she so desperately craves.
I want to tell her to keep flossing, to wear sunscreen and underwire bras.
I want to tell her to be on the lookout for a nice guy who is smart and can make her laugh, but to make sure, make very sure that she ends up with someone because she loves him, not because he seems like the safest option. I want to tell her to never, ever settle.
I want to tell her to not worry, that some day she will be a mommy, and a great one at that. A mommy who is flawed and who makes her fair share of mistakes, but one who loves her children and treats them like children should be treated. I want to tell her that she doesn't turn out to be a monster.
I want to tell her that she is so lucky, so very lucky to be alive and young and healthy and that the world is indeed her oyster at that moment.
But most of all, I want to tell her that I love her. And that we are going to be ok.