Mom, daughter, sister, friend. I spend my days writing other people’s stories and my nights with the most amazing kids a mom could ever ask for. Kansas girl by birth, city girl by heart, forever filled with wanderlust and a love of red wine. I tweet as @backtoallen, facebook and blog.
I feel like such a fraud.
I’m the newest Girl Scout troop leader at my daughter’s school. I signed on because she’s been a Girl Scout since she started Kindergarten. Other activities have come and gone; math club, running club, special chorus…the one constant was always Girl Scouts.
I kept myself at arm’s length all these years. I didn’t volunteer to help but I dutifully sold cookies. Ironed on patches. Paid dues. I tried to not remember that my mom was also a Girl Scout troop leader. My Girl Scout troop leader.
I tried to not remember that she was the leader who took us all to “camp” at the local Holiday Inn, and hid under the blankets with my friends and their flashlights as they asked her about periods and kissing and how to get a boy to like them while I hid under a tent of my own pretending to read a book, mortified that she was sharing such details with girls I’d have to face come Monday morning.
I resolved all that, though, because the only activity my girl wanted to do this year was Girl Scouts, and the troop needed a leader. Truth is, I’ll do just about anything to protect what I see as my daughter’s last year of truly being a kid. This is her last year in elementary school; next year she’ll go to middle school, where the eighth graders make out at their lockers. Where the boys have the beginnings of mustaches and school dances replace PTO movie nights. Where I lose control over knowing all of her friends and their parents.
So I pulled up my big girl panties, filled out the forms and attended my first meeting tonight. When I walked in, I saw this:
To be fair, it wasn’t there for our meeting. The meeting took place in a church, and I have no doubt that there was a religion class of some sort there earlier. Still, it struck me as odd to have that as a backdrop as the ladies in charge talked about magazine and cookie sales. And it struck me as odd that I was shoring myself up to keep her in an organization that I hope helps her to be confident enough to ask for whatever she wants, in whatever quantities she needs, no matter who passes judgment and says she should settle for less instead of asking for more.
Isn’t it our job to ask for more? I know that I do; I ask for more understanding, more forgiveness, more kindness, more love. I tell my kids it’s ok to ask for more food, more advice, more books, more challenges, more collaboration. I encourage them to push themselves to BE more, share more, welcome more, give more.
As I sat there and thought, one of my favorite quotes: ‘what you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say’ entered my mind and I realized that despite how unqualified I feel to take on this role, it’s actually a gift that I’ve yet to unwrap. If I do this right, I have the opportunity to model for my daughter what I wish my mom would have modeled for me. Like so many other times in her short 10 years on this planet, without really knowing it she’s handing me a clean slate, saying ‘I trust you. Show me what you’ve got.’