I mind, actually.

I commented on a status the other day that at least reaching our thirties meant we embraced an age of being comfortable in our skin. That it was a good age to be. Despite everything that has happened, being in my thirties has been the age I have been happiest about myself. I’m fatter, plainer and duller than I’ve ever been, but I’m loved, I know what matters and I do the thing which is currently most important well. I’m a good mum and I get through the days okay.

Some people, the people who know me best, know I’m utterly fallible but fallible without malice. I say the wrong thing when I mean well, I over react at times, I bitch a bit too much. I speak because I care, I react hard because I care hard, I mutter only about people I love quite a bit. I take things to heart too much. I over think. But while forgetfulness and too much on might mean I am an imperfect friend and certainly an imperfect mother, my heart is in the right place. I would go a long way to help a person if I could. I’ll do my best to support someone in a crisis or an endeavour. I’ll always chip in if I can. I am generous and I am grateful for help and support too. I don’t always show it hard enough. I’m never going to turn up at your home with casserole if something terrible happens but I will certainly send Hama Beads. Honestly, you wouldn’t want my casserole, so don’t knock the beads.

There are some things I am rubbish at. I can’t do small talk. I’m not funny in person. I’m crippled by how bad I feel about being short, fat and unimpressive to look at. I’m not a fun night out. I’m not laid back, easy going, a laugh a minute, one of the girls. I never get invited out because I’m not interesting to be with that way. I’m earnest, thoughtful and just a bit boring. I wasn’t ever much good at the quip, the snigger or the naughty joke and the last few years have wiped the last of that out of me. I can’t dance, I’m not silly, people who know me casually don’t really like me that much. What started at school, an utter discomfort in myself that I couldn’t overcome has settled into knowing that in 85% of my life I’m a loner. I’m the ballet mum no one really wants to chatter to because I’m not lightweight conversation. I’m the gym mum who got left behind and stands alone in the waiting room while people hope I won’t talk to them. I’m the awkward rugby mum who doesn’t know how to have casual conversation. Enough people like me a lot for that to not matter mostly.

What I do know is that I irritate people deeply for caring about what is happening for my children. I know it annoys people that actually I think being allowed to be trusted with my girls is a privilege for those people, not my girls. I know that it is only too clear that the relentless disregard people have for me affects the opportunities they get now. I know that people sneer at me for thinking I have a right to be involved in their lives. I know they go from 0-60 in irritation levels because I think I know them, know what is best for them, might like to be involved in things they love and are passionate about. I know I’m the mum that teachers roll their eyes about because I’m asking to be sure they are happy. But actually, I’m mostly paying, so I think I’m entitled to be involved

I’ve been the gauche one in the corner all my life. People think it is a flaw you can do something about. People think you can just get confident, be better at casual friendships, be a lower maintenance human, get thinner, learn to love yourself, just walk away and not mind about things. Oh, if only it were true. If I could change myself, I would have by now. Its not fun being the person who isn’t fun. It’s not fun being the person who doesn’t get invited to things and who no one really wants to sit next to. It’s not fun knowing you are annoying enough that you probably jeopardise your kids opportunities just because of who you are. It’s not fun being the person people sort of hope will sit alone, not next to you. It’s not even fun knowing it is sometimes all in my head and that if only I could make the jump, I would be better off.

I’m the kid who sits permanently at the top of the drop slide and never quite dares to experience the plunge. I never quite get the thrill because I’m always just too afraid someone is laughing at the fat girl who makes a bigger splash than the thin, fun party girls who deserve to be there.

But don’t think I don’t notice. Don’t think I don’t hurt to be left out, left behind, accidentally find out I got sneered at, laughed at, or stepped away from. I do know. And it hurts.

That’s always been the problem with everyone’s perception of the awkward, spotty, fat and boring girl in the story. People forget she’s a person. People forget to see past the person who gets it wrong at times to see the person who would blossom if she was included. People forget she would have a lot to offer if they stopped laughing at her and asked her along with the crowd.

  21 comments for “I mind, actually.

  1. Sarah E
    July 25, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    “I know it annoys people that actually I think being allowed to be trusted with my girls is a privilege for those people, not my girls”

    This is the sentence which most clearly resonates with me, and I understand it because I feel it too. My girls don’t do sleepovers, for example, unless I know the family of the other child well, and they never do overnight school trips. Caring for my children when they are at their most vulnerable away from home (ie asleep!) is not something I am easily able to entrust to someone else, and I am often accused of being overprotective.

    A lot of the other feelings you mention in this post are those I have too – I’m not a social person particularly, and I don’t spend time with people on a superficial level – there has to be a real connection. I don’t have a lot of friends, but those I do have are those with which I have connected at some level. I was never very good at the chatting at the school gate malarky and am over the moon that the girls now go to school on the bus and I don’t have to do it!

    I have grown into my confidence in the last couple of years, and now that I am going to turn 40 in September, I am finally beginning (just beginning, though!) to feel “grown-up”.

    I very rarely see you, but I’m one of those who really likes you!! Hugs xx

  2. Liz
    July 25, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Me too!

  3. Julie
    July 25, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    (((Big Hugs))) Don’t beat yourself up for being who you are. You know your good & bad points, you have a life, a family to look after, a partner, a business to run. Who cares what other people think, it’s their loss if they can’t make an effort. I genuinely believe that as you go through life, you meet people who you will just ‘click’ with. I’m also a firm believer that a smile & a hello can go a long way. Just keep on being who you are, because that is all that matters. xx

  4. July 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    There’s something in the air today. I’ve just poured out heart and soul on my blog too. Have a hug or two. Can I sit in your corner some time?

  5. Jax Haskell
    July 25, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    Merry – please please come down here and stay with us one day – we’d love to have you visit and I’d LOVE to meet you in person. I can relate to a lot of what you say, but now turning 40 is several years behind me, I can say that there’s been a LOT of change over the last decade, and don’t write yourself off that way!!
    I’m not going to waffle on here – come and visit – we’d find plenty to talk about, even if you feel you’re not good at small talk – I am a very good listener, and I can talk plenty to fill in any gaps! Please come – there’s plenty of educational reasons to do so too ;)

  6. Maggie
    July 25, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    I’ve met you, and “know” you, and I know that, despite most of what you have written there being true, I’d still try to spend time with you if we lived closer. Mind you, you might be the one hoping that I’d sit by herself and not try to talk ;~) :oD

    We didn’t seem to lack for smalltalk as I recall. My young asthmatic son locking himself in your bathroom gave us plenty to talk about while waiting for the locksmith……ahem……

  7. ailbhe
    July 25, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    I liked you, the first time I met you. Naturally I assumed you hated me! But social stuff is so terrifying I mostly can’t do it.

    Except that I have lots of lovely friends.

  8. July 25, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    If course/care providers think a parent is ‘annoying’ for checking they are getting a good quality service – which they are paying for! – then they’re not very good, in my opinion!

    (((HUGS)))

    it’s tough when you don’t fit in. I can do small talk, but I still often feel like this on the inside xx

  9. Molly
    July 25, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    For what it’s worth I don’t think you’re boring or any of the negative words you’ve just used there. I think you’re really rather lovely and would gladly sit in your corner any time. xx

  10. July 25, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    I think you’re lovely! And I can’t possibly say all the things I want to say to you here, so you are going to have to come and stay with us too:-)

  11. July 25, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    This was so strange for me to read Merry. As I only actually ‘know’ you via your writing, having never been lucky enough to meet you in person, and the you of my imagination is quite different to the person you’ve described.

    The caring and generous was part of the Merry that I fancy I know, definitely. Taking things to heart, yes. But I think all the best people do ;)

    But, oddly enough, I somehow can’t imagine you as struggling with small talk. I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t be funny to talk to. I always imagined you, Merry, as right in the midst of the ballet mums and the gym mums and the rugby mums somehow. But, if that truly isn’t the case, more fool them. They missed out. I truly believe that.

    There is nothing wrong with being gauche, ‘shyness is nice’ as Mozza sang. I would sit next to you in a heartbeat. And there is always the possibility that you might be wishing that I’d sat somewhere else!

    If people find your irritating for being interested in your children, for caring about what is happening to your children. Well, that is just a symptom of a world gone wrong. Paying or not, you are entitled to be involved. Of course you are.

    And I know that it hurts. I was fun, once. I went out drinking and dancing. I was one of the girls. Just for a while. I’m not now. Life knocked all the fun out of me, I don’t snigger or quip. Sometimes I wish that I could, I’d like the children to have more friends, more families I could invite round. But, ho hum. I’m not who I was. And, in my 30s, I’m happy to be just who I am. Instead of trying to be somebody that I’m not. Now there’s a lesson that nobody tries to teach you when you’re four ;)

    For what it’s worth, I think you are beautiful. And a mother who represents so many, many things that I would like to be to my own children. And I’d ask you along with my crowd . . . although it might, currently, be a crowd of one! Sorry about that :(

  12. July 25, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    I’m the spotty fat kid in the corner no one likes Merry. YOU are not. Get out of my corner I want to be alone.

    I feel like this almost all the time but I would never have thought you would have thought that way about yourself. You come across as very intelligent and very genuine. I would take one of you over a hundred shallow air heads any day.

    xx

  13. Karen
    July 25, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    I so know how you feel Merry, so badly that I don’t even sit in the corner, I go into another room
    .

  14. Mrs Hojo
    July 26, 2012 at 12:08 am

    I love you and that is better.

    I don’t love many people that I haven’t given birth to so you are awesome actually
    xx

  15. July 26, 2012 at 3:31 am

    Thinking of you and admire your strength… you sound like an amazing mum xoxo

  16. July 26, 2012 at 11:27 am

    I really appreciate all these comments. If i reply to them all, I’m going to cry, but thank you. I felt slapped down and hurt yesterday and it really helped to not feel alone. (It was an offline thing, this is not a blog flounce ;) )

  17. July 26, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Hey Missy, I don’t recognise the person you are describing. I only know a very strong, courageous, welcoming, caring and nurturing lady. I know we often put up a front to engage in social situations, but I made a beeline to meet you at Blogcamp, as I feel you are such an inspiring person and I definitely wanted to meet you and chat in person.

    If someone has reacted in the wrong way to something you have said, it is probably more about where they are in the present time. I know I’ve upset people on occasion as my words have been clumsy or mis-interpreted, but we ALL do this sometimes.

    Big hugs and love to the girls and Ben x

  18. July 27, 2012 at 6:07 am

    All I know is, I’d love to sit and have a cup of tea with you and talk about anything and everyone. Truly.

    xo

  19. July 27, 2012 at 10:07 am

    I don’t know how you do it but you manage to gather thoughts that have been lurking at corners of my brain and pull them together, so I’m sitting here saying “Yes, Yes, I know that feeling.” I think perhaps where we differ is that I still try to be the mum that is entertaining to talk to and invariably make a prat of myself. I envy the cat who can walk by herself. And for what it’s worth, on the couple of occasions I’ve met you, I’ve found you very easy to talk to and someone whose thoughts I value and respect. I think as I approach fifty, I’m minding less, but that’s probably on a good day.

  20. July 27, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    I don’t know you personally and being very bad at reading people’s blogs regularly I don’t read your every post but this made me cry because I recognise myslef in a lot of what you are saying. I am now (ahem) 40 and I have got better at saying f*** it and I don’t care that much what people think anymore but occasionally I will get a comment or a look that cuts me to the quick and I just can’t forget in a hurry. I tell myself I am being over sensitive and it probably wasn’t meant that way but it doesn’t help. I am also not great at small talk unless I click with a person and have a tendency to talk too much and not listen enough. I was cripplingly shy as a child and I am doing my best to make sure that my children don’t grow up like me. Unfortunately my husband is similar to me so it is difficult. I feel for you I really do – it does slowly get better but I think for those of us like this (and there seems to be more than we think looking at the comments)it may never really go away. So chin up, smile and go get em girl – I think you seem lovely and I would love to meet you one day xxx

  21. July 28, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    You are my room mate to be, you are lovely, funny and pretty, you have a heart of gold and hama beads to match, atop telling yourself otherwise xxx

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