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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Expect the Unexpected

I haven’t written anything in a long time, because in order for me to write effectively, I must be somewhat inward focused. The last couple weeks, I’ve been very “outward.”

I have a confession to make, and though it may be considered heroic, it still shames me to have to admit…

I rejoined Weight Watchers a week and a half ago after a four-year hiatus.

See? This is a good thing, right? I’m addressing lifestyle habits that are harming me and my family. Still, I’m ashamed to admit I can’t lose weight on my own. Frankly, I’m ashamed to admit I need to lose weight at all. I don’t want to have this problem. I want to be able to eat nachos and cheese fondue to my heart’s content. I don’t want there to be a direct correlation between food, which is a great comfort and creative outlet for me, and what I look like. But there it is. Some things simply can’t be wished into being real.

So, with being very deliberate about weight loss, a great deal of energy and time has been absorbed. If you’ve never had a large amount of weight to lose, then you cannot know how consuming it is to successfully and consistently lose weight in a healthy way. You have to be consciously thinking, strategizing, and working in exercise-time into a life that, for years, you’ve convinced yourself doesn’t have room for it. So, it means canceling plans; cutting short downtime; sacrificing housework, social time, acts of service, and writing time. It means standing at the kitchen counter with your Weight Watchers guide, trying to figure out what to eat for lunch and dinner, and constantly fighting the urge to say “screw it.” For my first week, this entailed tears, hunger, and desperation. It meant pacing the floor, salivating over the kids’ macaroni and cheese, and limiting myself to one lousysingle-serving size bag of Doritos.

Now, it’s better. At my Week 1 weigh-in, I had lost 3.4 pounds. A decent and encouraging first week. And based on my daily morning weigh-ins on my bathroom scale, it continues to come off. Perhaps writing about it from time to time will keep me accountable.

Now, on a totally different subject I need to talk about Preschool Moms. A year ago, I was traumatized by preschool moms. It just so happened that the group of moms I was forced to cross paths with each day all seemed to know each other, hang out together, and pretty much ignore my existence. They were, by and large, size 6’s, tall and blond, and always perfectly coiffed. I hated them all. Many days I drove home from preschool sobbing over my exclusion from this group. I tried being friendly and engaging in conversation, but it was junior high all over again. There was absolutely no clicking with any of them.

Okay, so like a week or so ago I get a phone call from the woman I considered to be at the nucleus of this group. But why would she call me out of the blue? First, some background.

She was the shining star that all the others orbited around. For some reason I was always aware of this woman, possibly because she drew in so much attention and everyone seemed to know her. She was always right there. After awhile I got to recognize her car, because her older kids also go to Jack and Sabrina’s school, and we’d often follow each other from Point A to Point B on the daily kid-round-up. This year, her youngest, a daughter, started kindergarten, and with hind-sight-embarrassment, I admit I secretly hoped this little girl and Sabrina would be in the same class together so that I might have a chance to enter the orbital ellipse. But, that didn’t happen. The mom, meanwhile, started working part-time in the school, and when I’d drop in from time to time, wearing curlers and eating bon-bons, we’d politely exchange greetings. Hey, I thought, she recognizes me!

So, back to the call. It turns out her son is in Jack’s second grade class. I had no idea. Apparently Jack and her son are friends. I had no idea. Her son was having a birthday party and he really wanted Jack to go. Really? My son? She also mentioned that she knows we live fairly close to each other – just a couple blocks, really, because she’d seen our car turn off into our little cul-de-sac. She recognizes my car?

Imagine that.

Well, we chatted briefly before and after the birthday party, and she was very nice and friendly and interested. Then tonight, we had this school musical that the 2nd and 3rd graders performed. I got there early enough to get front row seats. This woman arrived shortly after me, and chose to sit beside me, despite lots of other empty seats (I really think it was the front row aspect that was the draw). Nevertheless, we chatted constantly for the whole half hour before the show started, and even though other women tried to talk to her, she kept talking to me.

Okay, by now some of you are thinking, Linda, get a life. Why are you letting a stranger dictate your value and worth? Yes, this is a valid point. But here’s my response: I’m not letting her do those things. I have become very much aware over the past month or so that the reason I feel isolated from other people has more to do with me than with them. I simply find it ironic that at nearly the same moment I am having a personal revelation, a person who unconsciously tormented me has become a friendly acquaintance.

This year I am starting to befriend some of the preschool moms (a different group than last year), and we’re even starting to socialize. We’ve done kid-swapping for play dates, done coffee together, done the walking thing, and made pizza. I think what’s happening is that I’m reaching out more. And I’m not doing it in an I-have-an-agenda-I-want-you-to-be-my-new-best-friend-forever way. No. I have compartmentalized too many people for too long, and had it bite me in the rear. Time to let them off the hook. Besides, most people don’t have an irrational psychological need for every friendship to involve the sun, moon, and stars.

I think of when Anne Shirley in meets Diana (from “Anne of Green Gables”) for the first time, and she calls her, “my most bosom friend.” Who doesn’t want a most bosom friend? I do. I have some very dear, wonderful friends, but they share their bosom with lots of other people. And so must I.

What is the lesson? Well, I’ll tell you. My insecurity, my tears and frustration and self-doubt were entirely, completely self-generated. If I had really wanted to befriend some of these women, I could simply have arranged play dates. I could have suggested getting coffee, or taking the kids and grabbing a movie after preschool. Did I ever once do those things? No. Not once. Do I think it’s that simple? Yes and no. Because surrendering expectations of other people is immensely hard for me. Even today, I overheard two of my new friends making plans to do something tomorrow. Without me. For just a second, I felt jealous. Because, if I take just a second to do so, I can see that both of these women are reciprocating interest in me, reaching out, and more than willing to meet me halfway. But that’s the thing. I have to go halfway too.

In grade school, junior high, and high school, friendship came easily. You either deeply connected with someone in an instant or you didn’t. The gradual acquaintanceship kind of friendship has been foreign to me for most of my life. But as an adult, it is a necessity. And it requires, stepping out, reaching out, taking a chance. But not expecting anything. And then, if it happens, great. And if it doesn’t, so what?

So, it’s taken me almost 36 years to kind of start to get this concept. Am I preaching to the choir? Are you shaking your head, pitying my social awkwardness and naïveté? If you are, then my guess is you’re one of the privileged few. Good on you.

I’m still trying to figure a few things out. But, I’m trying. I haven’t given up, and I certainly hope I haven’t given in.

The nice lady who is the former shining star of all Preschool Moms may someday in fact become a friend. Wouldn’t that be ironic? I think so. What would really be fun, would be if someday we became good enough friends that I could trust her to read this. We’d both get a laugh out of it.

Then again, I dare not expect.


At 6:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, Linda, who let you into my brain?

I have a very cool sister-in-law.


At 9:41 AM, Blogger Gateway School and Learning Center said...

You're so funny, but also so true. BTW, you made me feel very popular at Kaladi's yesterday. Seemed like I suddenly knew everyone and to have your smiling face in my line of vision was the icing on the cake.
Now, why is that hanicap symbol next to your word verification?

At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I so feel your pain! I am proud of how far you've come in a short time. Instead of rising to the challenge I've retreated into the corner and now stay as far from the school and clicks as possible. Way to be a leader!



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