I woke up sobbing this morning like a little girl. It took me a minute to wake up and realize that I was a little girl and I was crying because I was talking to myself. It’s something I tell clients to do a lot when we are talking about trauma they went through as a child. I do it to myself when I think about the mistakes I made as an awkward adolescent, too immature to make better choices and too out of place to find proper guidance. I think it’s because I took my daughter to see Bikini Kill last week who took the time between songs to talk a little about what it’s like to be a woman, what it was like to be a female band in the punk scene in the 90s and how we can be better to each other today and make all people feel safe and at home at punk shows. It got me thinking about just how unsafe I felt so often at shows as a teenager, afraid of getting punched in the head, too close to the pit at a hardcore show, or having some guy think it was okay to stick his hand up my shorts while I was on top of the crowd.
I love being able to take my kid to shows like that so she can see women like Kathleen Hanna on stage, so incredibly comfortable in her own skin, doing what she was put on this earth to do. I love watching this woman dance and then describe her own dance moves as “the cringy mom” knowing that my daughter is standing next to me soaking it all in while some of her classmates are passing around a video of her in cosplay calling it “cringy”. Ironically enough, I was driving my daughter to school the next day telling her all about what the punk shows were like for me as a young female and how to defend against a crotch grab while crowd surfing at the same time the rest of my daughter’s classmates were being told that one of the girls was not coming back to school for the rest of the year. The classmate was a friend of my daughter’s until very recently when she started being mean, lashing out at friends for her own inner wounds. Later, while my daughter was showing me the texts from her classmates speculating about the reasons this girl won’t be returning to school, all I could think about was how grateful I was for the education I was able to give my kid the previous night in being okay with who you are. I was grateful that my daughter knows that validation needs to come from within, not from her peers, or boys, or even her parents.
I watch my tween navigate the world being a little different than her counterparts and I think about how much different I was than my classmates at that age. I think about how I gravitated to the other girls that didn’t really fit in and how I was the girl who welcomed them knowing what it was like to be the new kid and I watch my daughter do the same thing. I also watch as the new girls start to fit in a little bit, as they gravitate away from my kid, sometimes becoming the same girls that pass around videos of my daughter in cosplay trying to secure their place in the popular group by being a mean girl. And when I see it, I silently thank my dad for being the parent he was and reminding me that fitting in is never the most important thing in life. I thank my mom for teaching me that kindness is a greater quality than leadership. And I thank women like Kathleen Hanna, Kim Gordon, Aimee Interrupter and Alison Mosshart for being role models for me and my kiddo navigating our way through the world of Kardashians.
*I wrote this post listening to some of my favorite Riot Grrrls Bratmobile.