It’s hard to believe that I grew up liking dresses or the color pink at all. I grew up in a masculine heavy household. With two brothers – one older, one younger – I was surrounded with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and baseball mitts from a very early age. For as long as I can remember, I followed my older brother and his friends around. Summers were spent at the baseball diamonds by my house, and winters were dedicated to snow football…and yes, that’s a real thing. I was the only sister in the group. It was like I was a novelty. I was a girl, and yet I could take down any of those guys in a game of football with one swift tackle if I wanted.
I had never had a problem with playing sports. I loved running out onto the soccer field, and I loved that rush when you realized that it was your turn up to bat. When I was in the fourth grade, however, a lot of the girls in my class became obsessed with the idea of being a girl. They began to notice boys, and they saw gym class as an opportunity to flirt with boys rather than play a game. I began to feel out of place. Coinciding with all of this was the introduction of Colt’s Cheerleading. Pee-Wee Football was big in our town. Most every boy played, and girls clamored for a spot on the cheerleading team. With my time spent on my sports teams, I began to feel like I was doing something wrong.
I begged my mom to let me join, but she (wisely) refused. You know that moment, when you get the feeling that your parents were going to say something so profound that they must have mind reading powers? Yeah, this was that moment. Her eyes were boring into my soul, catching every single insecurity that I had been struggling with for the last few weeks.
Very softly, she asked, “Do you want to be the one on the sidelines doing the cheering, or do you want to be the one on the field that they’re cheering for?”
Even to this day, I remember her words so perfectly. Word for word, they have been chiseled into my being. I don’t think I will ever forget this moment, because it has come to define my entire person. It wasn’t a moment in which I had to choose between being a girl and being a tomboy. Instead, it was a moment in which I was challenged to recognize my own direction. My mom challenged me when I was still a young girl and she still challenges me to this day.
So Happy Mother's Day, Mom! Thank you for giving me the strength to always be the person that I wanted to be.
|In Maine, summer 2006|
|At the Statue of Liberty, 2009|
|In Key Largo, spring break 2010|