Recently, I saw an article with the topic “do we ever leave high school”? This article made me think of how those three years (our freshman year was at a different school) had more impact on my personality and who I am than any other three years of my life (even those first few years with my babies, oh wait, I was so sleep deprived, I am not sure what impact those had, I am still trying to catch up on sleep). I think high school was this way for many people.
I have talked about growing up in my Mississippi town full of quirk, fun, and a lot of deep southern traditions. It was a great place to be from, a place where your bosoms can be fake, your smile can be fake, and your hair color fake, but your pearls and silver must always be real.
I have a story I was saving for my book, but good grief, I am a blogger, I can’t hold much back. Now, let me start by saying, I did not find out what my mother did that forever molded me into the woman I am until I was 35. Yes ma’am, my southern mama who says Bless Her Heart at least 5 times a day, works in the court where they do divorces and commit “crazy” people so she knows everyone’s business in town, kept a secret from me for 20 years! Amazing. But, as a mother now, I understand.
The Summer after your 9th grade year in my hometown is a big year for all girls. It is the year that you pledge for a high school sorority, well, they call it a social club, but let’s just call it what it is, a sorority. You usually know which group you will pledge, it is with the group you have been with since you were in first grade at Poplar Springs Elementary. So, here is where things got a little “off”. See, I made football cheerleader at THE high school. There were only two sophomore spots and I and a girl from the school across town earned those spots. (Thank you mom for all those years of gymnastics and time spent helping me learn to sparkle).
This pretty much ensured that I would be picked for the social club all the girls in my group wanted in, the one all the cheerleaders were in.
That is when things changed. A few of the girls I had been friends with since our finger-painting days started to leave me out. There were sleepovers that I was not invited to, even birthday parties whose invitations must have got lost in the mail. Weird. Then, a couple of the girls became real catty with me. This continued as we started our years of high school. Now, one of these girls knew how to work the social ladder, she talked behind my back, told lies about me to get others to like her more. It hurt my feelings, but I rolled with it (after many tears).
I became friends with girls that were not in “the” popular clique, some from the other social club in town, and of course, I had a few true friends in my social club group. When we graduated and the majority of the girls from my social club went off to Ole Miss, I chose University of Southern Mississippi and am so thankful God led me there. It allowed me to choose my path, not the one laid out for me at my mom’s baby shower for me.
So, here is the BIG SECRET that I learned 20 years later: right after I made cheerleader at THE high school, one of the catty girls mom from my “group” called my mother to tell her that her daughter and I needed to get together more, do more things together, and wanted me to spend the night that weekend. I had never spent the night at this girls house. She pretty much told my mom that she and my mom needed to form an alliance and get these girls into THE social club.
And……my mother told her NO.
My sweet mom who sacrificed everything to raise my brothers and I, to give me the opportunities like being in THE social club, knew that I would not find my way in life and to be truly who God created me to be if she forced me to be someone who I was not. (Plus, I think it made her mad at the audacity of this woman)
Of course, the social-climbing, busy body mom was only trying to do what she felt was best for her daughter. She then called another mom who gave into her pressure and those two girls were the ones who were so unkind to me throughout high school.
So, thank you mother for not yielding to MOM PEER PRESSURE and teaching me to seek out true friends based on their character, to find kindness, beauty, and love for myself.
My mom truly gave me roots and wings, and without those wings I would be grounded in a little box and missing out on this grand adventure.
The Park Wife