We were quite a duo as we hiked the hills behind our kids’ elementary school. My friend, fresh from her visit to a phlebotomist, was accessorizing her running shorts with knee-high white surgical stockings. Resembling a sexy roller girl from the 70’s, she wore her ugly socks with pride.
After a few sweaty miles, I started suffering from an itchy heat rash across my middle. “Fuck it,” I said as I folded my shirt into a micro crop top in a desperate attempt to get some fresh air on my misbehaving skin. I’m 100% certain that the only human on the planet who should legally be allowed to wear a micro crop top is Giselle — and I’m not convinced she’s entirely human. I looked ridiculous, and sadly couldn’t even muster a redeeming roller girl vibe.
So there we were, Roller Girl and not-Giselle, trudging up the mountain, talking, laughing and reveling in the fact that we’ve reached the age where we truly didn’t care that we looked like we escaped from a facility harboring the criminally unfashionable. We were women of substance. (Yeah!) We were fearless. (Hell, yeah!) We were standing right in front of a huge gopher snake. (Oh, shit!)
Admittedly, the thing looked comatose as it stretched across the trail soaking up the sun. But it was big and it was close and, well, a snake is a snake.
Shrieking, I started doing the jumping, flailing, I-just-almost-stepped-on-a-snake dance. Believe me when I say not even Giselle could pull off that dance while wearing a homemade crop top. Roller Girl stopped pointing and laughing just long enough to put an arm around me and walk us waaaay around the snake before we both doubled over, roaring with laughter at the absurdity of it all: the knee socks, the crop top and the jiggly snake dance.
Once I wiped the tears from my cheeks and caught my breath, I commented that between the goofy clothing and uncontrollable laughter, we were not that much different from our daughters – and that made me so happy.
Our daughters are close friends, bonded over a shared love of tether ball, adventure novels and a complete disinterest in the drama that we know is just around the corner in the ‘tween years. They have fun together, look out for each other and laugh hysterically – just like their moms do when they’re together. Ages ten and forty turn out to be uncannily similar, with all four of us at the same place of carefree self-assuredness. The daughters haven’t yet descended into the abyss of self-doubt and mean girls, while their moms have comfortably made it through to the other side.
We continued our hike, talking about our kids and how we wished we could bottle up their plucky attitude for future use. Keep it behind glass with a “break in case of teenage angst emergency” sign plastered next to it. But we also know that our girls must navigate the journey on their own and that the heavy lifting of adolescence builds muscle for adulthood – a form of strength training for the soul. Truth be told, we know these girls will be just fine, eventually reaching the point where they find themselves happily hiking through life’s hills, protecting friends from snakes and confident in their roles of Roller Girl and not-Giselle.