Several of us were talking about advice others gave us while we were growing up. I’ll skip over the made up advice of girlfriends at sleepovers and the colorful advice in college dorms, but here were some of the others we had in common: “You can stand up for yourself without stomping your foot.” (advice from two mothers and one grandmother), “Remember: Pretty is as pretty does.” (from all our mothers), “Treat everyone—even your siblings—the way you want to be treated.” (from two grandmothers and one mother), and “Never wear white when you’re having your period.” (from older sisters and more experienced friends.)
The last one really got us started (pun intended; guys probably won’t like this post…) Once we began talking about cramps, we had LOTS of stories to share. We had many similar experiences, but I was the only one whose mother had refused to excuse me from school—or at least write a note so I could cut gym class—when I had menstrual cramps. While other friends got to take a couple of Midol pain pills, rest on a heating pad and take it easy watching TV, I didn’t. You let me take a Midol after I ate a good breakfast, but beyond that it was school as usual.
“Do something,” you told me. “Stay busy doing other things. Act the way you want to feel, and pretty soon the cramps won’t feel so bad.”
I hated to admit it, Mom, but you were right. If I participated in gym class at school, walked the dog or stayed busy after school…if I acted like I didn’t have pain, pretty soon I didn’t have much pain.
Recently my friend Diana Bletter blogged about “Act As If” and expanded the advice to illness, disappointments and major discouragements. And as a poet and writer, you’ll appreciate this, Mom. How we face rejection slips—how we act and how we let them affect us—can determine if we quit or try again…and again…until we succeed.
But it’s important I also add the exception to your advice. You never advised anyone to pretend they hadn’t been hurt or harmed. If someone needed comfort, you always had open arms and an open heart, and the strength to help them through it.
It was only for life’s irritations, inconveniences, and minor disappointments that you taught me to act the way I wanted to feel. Thanks, Mom! Love, Marylin
(Read Diana Bletter’s “Act As If” at The Best Chapter at http://thebestchapter.com/2013/05/28/tool-for-tuesday-act-as-if/ )