Middle school is rough, even when you’re 40.
It might even be harder. I recently had an experience that reminded me all over again of middle school, and how socially rough it can be to be a girl.
I have been very active with a Facebook community group. I’m mean ACTIVE, I’m on it every day. We joke in my house about needing a 12-step program. Recently someone in the group told a lie about me, and I was judged and convicted within moments. Nothing I could say, no screen shot of a conversation, nothing would change the judgment handed down. I was upset. Beyond upset. I was called names that I have never been called in my life. Accused and convicted. It just felt so wrong. I felt helpless. I spent a sleepless night waiting to see if I would be forgiven for my perceived sin.
Middle school is rough on moms, too.
It reminded me so much of middle school. While middle school for me was many years ago, it wasn’t long ago I was holding my daughter’s hand through some very awful middle school experiences. I was so helpless to help her. She wanted so desperately to be liked and accepted that she was willing to change who she was, what she wore, and how she acted.
Not all girls are nice all the time. It can be rough when you’re not part of the clique.
I was helpless. I told her all the right words. How wonderful and perfect she was; she didn’t need to change for anyone; she was a good person; that with some time, the other kids would accept her and she would find her place. She was new to the school and new to the community in the last year of elementary school. These kids had gone to school together for 5 years and knew each other well. My poor baby never did find her place, she never was accepted. She will still tell you it was one of the worst years of her life. She will tell you she hates that school with a vehemence that would surprise you.
As I am dealing with my own hurts from being outed from a group that I valued, I realize that I may have said and done all the wrong things with her.
Instead of working so hard to coach her on how to connect with other kids and fit in and be accepted, I’m wondering now if I should have put more energy into simply acknowledging the hurt she was feeling. Sometimes the girls around you are just mean girls. There is no pleasing them — it actually makes them stronger to see how miserable you are.
Sometimes, you have to acknowledge it hurts, and know that it will get better. That’s one of the things life experience has proven, that she has yet to see. It’s one of the gifts of perspective I can give her: It hurts now, but it will get better in time. Mean girls will be mean girls. They will always wield whatever power they have. But it doesn’t have to control your behavior. You don’t have to change who you are, how you act, or what you wear. There is someone out there to be your friend. It just may be painful until you find her.
If I could do it again…
Middle school can be excruciating. The feelings are intense, and they are feeling them so fresh and raw. This recent experience of mine reminded me so much of middle school it made me re-think how I handled my daughter’s experience. I needed to spend less time giving her guidance, and more time holding her hand and commiserating. In time, it won’t matter as much, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of you being you, and enjoying your life as much as possible.
Has your middle-schooler had a rough time? Has your child had to move to a new school and had a hard time fitting in? How did you handle it? How do you support your kids when they are going through rough times? Are you a strategy and advice mom, or a hand-holding mom?