womanhood is a whole different thing from girlhood. girlhood is a gift…womanhood is a choice.
from where i am now, i can clearly see the advantages to being an adult. but i can, of course, clearly see the advantages to being a girl. i think most people look back at childhood and adolescence with at least some fond nostalgia. i know there were frustrations, trauma and heartbreak as well… but as the years go i tend to mostly remember the good things and the happy times. i find that as i get older i can let go of old prejudices, disagreements, heartbreaks, frustrations, and trauma–and remember the pleasant times that came before them. in this way it’s a nice thing that my memory fades a little bit with each passing year. of course, i have copious notes, journals, diaries and even early blogs from these years, so when i go back through them i can remember the outrage i felt, but for the most part, on my way to work, while speeding along in the train, i can reminisce about long summers spent with best friends (who i have long since lost touch with), or endless card games, and baking cookies together. gazing out the window i can remember the summer i took a trip with a friend’s family to the coast and playing cards.
girlhood was full of fun stuff for me. i played a lot of cards, board games, and watched a lot of movies at sleep-overs. i always felt so cool watching pride & prejudice over and over with friends while drinking hot chocolate with lit candles perfuming the background late late at night (or early in the morning). we loved to go on long walks in the rain. and hang out at someone’s house when their parents weren’t home. i loved to do crafty things–making beads out of fimo clay and jewelery out of “friendly plastic“. I spent a lot of time practicing my flute with another friend who was a few years older than me and in band.
skewing younger, i loved to go with girlfriends (and moms) to country village where there was the most fabulous doll hospital and toy shop–among other things like a rope zip line, train to ride on, and chickens everywhere. i remember in particular a pig themed party i went to–sugar cookies shaped like pigs and frosted, a pig pinata filled with pink candy, and gift bags full of pig themed treasures for a little girl. as a group we were toted to the children’s theater for a play. we watched “anne of green gables” performed. we returned home for sandwiches and “raspberry cordial” (virgin, of course).
some of my girlhood friends had amazing playhouses. one in particular had a play house with electricity and heat! she was also the happy owner of a miniature tea set and we had amazing tea parties there–as well as sleep-overs. her mom prepared pop-corn balls and other goodies for us to eat while we drank juice from the tea set.
my best friend and penpal who lived in california would send me letters via tape cassette. we would talk for hours this way, back and forth, and see each other once a year. we would get ready for our week together buy buying matching tshirts and purses, and planning places to go and things to do–like eating ice cream at the bay.
image by: Durr Wise
maybe what i miss most about girlhood is the seemingly uncomplicated nature of it. of course, in the moments that counted i felt that i had the most difficult and unhappy life of all! i remember all the frustrations and troubles of being a little girl. but with perspective i can understand the amazing nature of friendships and love. despite my mother telling me over and over that when i got older i would miss the nature of girlhood, i didn’t believe it until it happened. growing older–taking on responsibilities that lead to a fulfilling life can be distractions from kinds of things that were most important to us as children–or maybe it’s just a stacking effect: those things are still important, but other things are stacked up and up and up on top of them. the kinds of intense friendships and keeping in touch with far-flung kindred spirits seems to have fallen to the wayside for me, to some degree. much more of my free time is spent with my family, and my husband has become my best friend. and that’s wonderful. i have many wonderful girlfriends that i step through adult life with–share academic and domestic interests with. exchange freshly made jams and recipes with–concerns about marriages and children and careers, and how to balance all of the directions we’re being pulled every day. it’s fantastic to know that none of us are alone. and i love these adult relationships in a way i would have never guessed as a girl.
but i do sometimes miss the girlhood friendships, exchanging tokens of loyalty, and spending every day through the summer together. i love to read about and watch films or shows about adult friendships–the friendships of women that last through everything that is involved in life. they remind me of my childhood. it’s sad though! as an adult i can’t imagine a time when i would be able to spend every day with a friend–but i cherish and indulge in nostalgic daydreams about the days when i did. and the old adage that it’s better to have loved and lost–it’s so true. those memories nourish me when i’m lonely. these friendships are like first loves–and giving without pulling back. the experience of loving without worrying about being hurt might surpass anything else in human existence. and while these experiences might end, the depth of human emotion experienced will impact me for my entire life. it’s been such a fundamental part of being a woman, being human, and being me.