Growing up, I never won any popularity contests. Actually, I think it’s fair to say I was not even smelling contestant status.
To say I was a late bloomer would be a gross understatement. I was awkward, gangly, and a true geek (actually, that last part still holds true). I think this picture of me from junior high tells you all you need to know:
‘Nuff said. (To be fair, my formative years fell smack dab in the 80’s, and that sweater really was in style then. At least that’s what I tell myself.)
The funny thing is, when I look back onto my awkward teen years, I don’t think my inability to win the coolness contest bothered me much at the time. I’m pretty sure I was so obsessed with my own little nerd posse (and making sure those bangs were perfectly coiffed and shellacked with at least a half can of Aqua Spray), that the fact I was not cool went right over my head and extremely stiff hairdo.
Sure, I would have been tickled to have been voted prom queen. But let’s face it… that was never going to happen. I was not popular. And oddly, I was both accepting of and okay with that fact.
Fast forward a few decades. Braces are long gone. Glasses have been replaced by Lasik. God-awful sweater has been appropriately sent back to live under the rock from which it came. Starched curly bangs… well honestly, who has time for any type of hair care routine when they become a mom?
And despite the external changes, the reality is that most days I’m still not winning any popularity contests, especially in my kids’ eyes.
Sure, there are some days when they treat me like I am the prom queen. These are the times when Bobo tells me I’m the best mom in the world, and I believe it. Or when my she says, “Momma, I love you to the stars and back,” and my heart just melts.
Those are the days when I languish in my popularity.
And then there are the other days.
Bobo was mad at me the other morning. I wouldn’t let her wear sandals to preschool, even though it’s 50 degrees out. She was pissed, and she let me know about it. I let her stew and whine about it for a while, then finally went over to talk to her about it. When she had finally calmed down, I gave her a hug and said, “You know I love you to the moon and back, right?”
She glared back at me. Begrudgingly, she finally said, “Momma, I love you, too. But right now I only love you to the stars, and not back.”
Considering the nearest star other than the sun is 4.2 light years away, I’ll take it. Not exactly prom queen status, but I’ll take it.
Suffice to say, the popularity struggle continues. More often than not, I find there are many, many days when I’m certainly not my kids’ favorite person. I’m learning that parenting is certainly not a popularity contest.
And oddly, I am also learning to be both accepting of and okay with that fact.
Side note: Shamelessly, I do participate in other types of popularity contests nowadays. If you feel obliged, please click here to indulge me.