Female friendship, freedom, friendship, Overcoming loss

A Return to Baylor

Hilarious Video of Mom Jeans running: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhJxlrqlsX4

There are a few women in my life whom our concentric circles of crazy align so perfectly that it makes us far more dangerous together than we are individually. So it is with Maureen. Mo and I were room mates our sophomore and junior year at Baylor. People would tell us that they could not take being inside either of our brains for five minutes. Which we thought was full-on awesome.

It is strange that we ever became friends, really. She was the brainy and brash Irish St.Louis girl and I was the only slightly-less brash Southern Belle who relied on brownie baking to get through college. But then again if you are from the same tribe you have an unavoidable way of finding each other. She has been my friend in sunshine in rain; weddings, funerals and all other momentous seasons in-between. After John and I were engaged, I told him that we could not get married until Mo came back from Japan in 9 months. And yet John still likes Mo.

With Baylor now being on the map football-istically thanks to Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, (RG3,) a new bazillion-dollar stadium was built on campus in Waco. I caught wind of friends coming from Atlanta, Houston and Dallas to be there for the inaugural game against SMU on August 31st and I decided that our return to campus was long overdue. 

On August 22 I texted Mo that we needed to be there for the game on he 31st. She assumed October 31st, but silly her, no, I meant 9 days from then. She booked her flight, I scavenged for impossible tickets, began searching for matching shirts (vital) and because time was short, crafting matching Baylor jewelry for us. 

I squeezed in visits with two other of my Dallas / Ft. Worth steel magnolias (Gina and Stork,) and picked up Mo from the airport with “We Are Family.” blaring from my Rogue with all windows down. Because you are always the same age inside and darn if I’m not still 18. We did the scream / sing / dance reunion hug, grown men laughed at not with us and Maureen invited one old guy to come with us just for fun. Which I told her he may take the wrong way and there was no room since she had her huge suitcase.

Hair did & jewelry on we headed West to Waco Sunday Morning. First on the agenda was the Baylor Bookstore. Check. Bear Pit. Check. Old dorm room: roadblock. We quickly learned that the dorms are now on lockdown to keep out the riffraff. Which totally did not work. Soon with the help of a new friend who could tell we were not human traffickers we were on Memorial third floor. It smelled the exact same: burnt microwave pop corn and hair product with spray starch undertones. Yummy.

We crept down the sacred hall amused that the wood paneling survived the renovation and arrived at our Sophomore year dorm room. This venerable spot, with views of The Browning Library, was holy grounds for all we became in the 9 month time period of our lives. We snapped a picture of ourselves in front of our room and since the room next door was open, Mo tapped on that one first.

“Hi. We used to live next door. We used to have old ladies come back to look at our dorm room they lived in 30 years ago and now we’re the old ladies. Can we take a look around?”

“Of course! Come in.” said our new sweet friend.

Since she showed signs of cooperation, we asked if she would take our picture. In the bathroom. Reenacting shaving our legs. She said that the girls who lived in our actual room were there and they wouldn’t mind our looking around. We knocked on the bathroom door expectantly, curious yet nervous that we would be turned away. 

The co-ed answered the door as though she routinely received middle-aged women via her bathroom and told us to feel free to look around. Which took three seconds. Little had changed in our room despite 25 years of wear and tear. The formerly sophomore dorm was now a Freshman honors dorm. She said her roommate was coming back in a minute and would love to meet us which we found hard to believe. Sure enough, a few minutes later, the door opened and we yelled, “surprise, we used to live in your room!” to a shocked Freshman. What else could we have done?

The girls politely asked us to lunch and we told them we’d catch up with them at the Student Union Building. They insisted on walking with us, threw on their Baylor Line jerseys and we ventured to the SUB together. Maureen and I grabbed salads and reminisced about how only guys used to run in the Baylor Line (The Freshman who form the line for the football team to run through) We looked at each other, began laughing hysterically and knew that we owed it to the generations of Baylor Women who never got to run to open McClane Stadium and run in The Baylor Line. 26 years later.

Yes, George and Laura Bush and a ton of other important people were there, yes security was NUTS and yes, we did have tickets to the game which cost a kidney. We are law-abiding citizens, and typically make excellent choices. But there are in every life those handful of times when fate taps you on the shoulder and beckons you under the rope and you really would be crazy to hesitate.  Maybe it was the late Robin Williams’ sentimentally whispering “Carpe Diem” in my ear or maybe just because I am woman hear me roar or maybe it was regret over those four years of wearing dresses, hose and pumps to football games, but I did it. I ran with the Baylor Line. 

The scene from the field unfolded in slow-motion; beautiful green grass, jubilant alumni like me so thrilled to have a winning team, thousands on their feet cheering, reliving their glory days. And I ran. In flip-flops and mom jeans with purse slung over my shoulder. I ran on pure adrenaline from the utter joy of living life to the fullest. In total awe and disbelief that life could be this flat out beautiful. I ran, until I felt a velvet swoosh to my left which stopped me cold.

The perfect dreds swayed in slow motion as my crazy dream sequence suddenly got totally out of hand. There to my left was Robert Griffin III, whom I totally adore. I caught up with him (i know, right?) and swarmed him with the others, my iPhone randomly capturing me, then him, then me screaming. It did not capture his gentle yet firm velvet right arm prying me off of his body. This Moses of a man brought us into the promised land after wandering in the desert 40 years and I got to stalk him. Up close.

The Bears emerged from their locker room, the fireworks began in circular motion around the top of McClane and the Freshman ran to get to their seats. So I did as well. They all peeled off to the right and mom jeans went left. I was reunited with Mo at our seats who still cannot believe that I got to and she was prevented from, running in The Baylor Line. Together we continued to soak in the surreality of the epic day, thick in memories of our felt-like-yesterday past, amazed that so much time had passed and we had come so far. 



freedom, parental guilt

Guilt: Hitting the Mother load

 Before I delivered my first child, I had maternal guilt. I was certain that eating Flintstone Vitamins in lieu of the prenatal ones (which I could not keep down) per my physician’s suggestion would lead to some horrific defect. And (all together now:) It will be ALL my fault. According to Erma Bombeck, guilt is the gift that keeps on giving. And how right she was. 

A twinge or a flood, justified or absurd, guilt is a common emotion. Added to the obvious mistakes we make are the endless choices we as parents could have made which should have resulted in a better outcome and Bingo! Guilt. The brain seeks to make sense of our circumstances, no matter how good or bad. One way in which it does that is to take responsibility. For everything. And everyone. So what, if any, positive purpose does legitimate guilt serve and how can we fight the illegitimate guilty feelings to which we are prone?

According to John M. Grohol, PSYD, “guilt is an emotional warning sign that most people learn through their normal childhood social development. “Healthy” or “appropriate” guilt serves a purpose in trying to help redirect our moral compass.” If you let your child marinade in a wet diaper for 3 hours, chances are you earned your guilt twinge. If you have twins and one is a brilliant mathematician while the other barely scrapes by, feeling guilty for this is inappropraite.  If there is no moral issue to correct, there is nothing over which to feel guilty.

Legitimate guilt is an internal signal that we need to admit our mistake, apologize and move on. As Augustine said, “Repentant tears wash out the stain of guilt.” Relief only comes when we face our mistake and seek to make things better. This means humbling yourself to apologize, when it is warranted, even to your children. Family is where we learn what it takes to make good choices in the world. It is key to instill in your kids the need to take responsibility for their actions. 

Forbes Magazine published a Stanford Business School study which reported that people who feel guilt when doing something wrong actually made great leaders. Partly, perhaps, because they feel responsible for their actions and aware when those actions negatively affect others. Additionally when prompted by guilty feelings, good leaders seek to make amends with those they have caused harm.

“Unhealthy guilt’s purpose, on the other hand, is only to make us feel bad for little legitimate reason” says Grohol. This unhealthy guilt, encouraged by its equally wicked twin, anxiety, seems inherent in parenthood, right? Whether pesky or downright immobilizing, unhealthy guilt is a huge waste of emotional energy. Living under the burden of illegitimate guilt can lead to impairment in one’s ability to make future decisions, fearful of making a wrong move.

If you feel completely overwrought this time of year, perhaps you are burdened by guilt. How can you get to a freer place?

Quiet your mind to dig down to the root of your guilt. Take a walk, write in a journal, be quiet and uncover what is really going on. If it is legitimate guilt over something you did or failed to do, make amends. Ask God’s forgiveness, write that letter, make a call, admit your part in whatever went wrong.  Whatever it takes to own your actions, do it. Then let it go. Once you have admitted your mistake, whether or not someone forgives you is not your responsibility. If it is something like working mom guilt or stay at home mom guilt, examine that. If you made the best decision for your family be at peace with that and determine to once and for all let the illegitimate guilt go. 

Honestly there are a thousand better ways to do things as a parent which will all become clear about the time our offspring are 25 or so. When parental guilt rears its ugly head, take a a moment and identify whether it is justified or not. Dig past the surface emotion to identify the true origin and if it is valid, change your behavior. If unjustified, cut the senseless guilt out like the cancer it is. A world of wasted energy could be saved if we would but take a quiet moment to inspect our emotions rather than being helplessly sunk by them.