Confessions of a Former Mean Girl: From Queen Bee to Mama Bear

Being nice does not come naturally to me. I’m not saying I’m not friendly, polite or even empathetic — I am all of those things. I love a shelter dog, I hold the door for the stranger behind me, I donate to charity and smile at grandmas in the Target checkout line. I’m loyal to a fault, and I say an automatic “Thanks, you, too!” to anyone who wishes me a good anything, whether it makes sense or not. (You know, the awkward “Enjoy your movie!” “Thanks, you… too?” That’s me.) But I do have to work really hard at being nice.

You see, I used to be one of the Mean Girls.

Just me and some of my best Bullies, circa 2006- AKA when Happy Hour in Tallahassee was a competitive sport!
Just me and some of my best bullies, circa 2006 — a.k.a. when Happy Hour in Tallahassee was a competitive sport!

It’s a long story, but in my college career, it was good to be bad. Bad enough, that, over the course of one particularly epic Junior year, several friends and I were disciplined/kicked out/suspended/asked to resign (the punishments ranged) from our sorority, once the damage was done. Did I have fun? Hell, yes. Do I regret it? Honestly, no. I’m not going to get into the specifics, but I can promise you that no sweet, innocent young things were harmed during our reign. Judge away, because who I was at 23 is not who I’m trying to be 10 years later — and that’s what this post is about.

I have two small children: a 2-year-old boy and a baby girl who just celebrated — because we celebrate All The Things — her half birthday. And now, kindness and niceness and all those other happy-nesses really, really matter. I went to a religious school, I go to church — I know all about the Golden Rule. And I’m not honestly sure why I thought it didn’t apply to me until I grew up and had kids of my own. If someone treated me badly? I was meaner. If someone was unfair? Honey, I’m a Scorpio — I can promise you’ll get yours. Was I still being polite to strangers and volunteering my time? Yep. But it wasn’t real. I didn’t “get it.”

Now that the second generation is here, we're (mostly) grown up and (trying our best to be) nice!
Now that the second generation is here, we’re (mostly) grown up and (trying our best to be) nice!

When I was pregnant with our little boy, I was put on bed rest seven months in. We were new-ish to Jacksonville — my husband was deployed, and I spent long days and nights reading baby books and parenting forums on an iPad. Social media is the Mean Girl’s forte and, while I wasn’t exactly out trolling people on Instagram or spewing passive aggressive hate in the comments section of the What To Expect app, you’d better believe I was up until midnight taking my share of judgy screenshots to forward to friends. To squeeze a few more critical eye rolls into my day, obviously.

Nevermind what her shirt says, she's not about that #MeanGirlLife.
Nevermind what her shirt says, she’s not about that #MeanGirlLife.

You know that saying, “Everyone is a perfect parent, until they have kids?” That was definitely me. Once they were born, I ran full force into a brick wall of imperfection. Myself, my ideas, even my beautiful babies were very, very, VERY much not perfect. Like, not even a little bit. Suddenly, all those “Kindness Matters” T-shirts at Old Navy and “Nice is the New Black” Target coffee mugs didn’t seem quite so worthy of my judgement. What if someone else noticed the glaring imperfectness of my children?! What if someone else didn’t treat MY two squishy little blonde babes the way they themselves would want to be treated? And then MY babies were sad, hurt or scared of the mean, unkind, not-nice girls that their mama had once been so okay with being? Nope, nope, nope — I was not gonna let that happen. I had to make the switch from critical side eyes to smiley faces — and be sure my kids grow up doing the same.

Don’t get me wrong — I didn’t hit 30, pop out a couple of babies and start crying over the Hallmark Channel. A Town & Country van just replaced the Volkswagen SUV in my driveway, but I doubt I’ll ever join Team Everyone Gets A Trophy. I might even still need to remind myself every so often (0r every day) that They are watching, They are learning, and They are following my example… and I will. And I’ll be nice about it.

Born in The Great State of Texas, Erin grew up in Jensen Beach, Florida. After graduating from Florida State University (Go, Noles!), she managed to wrangle herself a career in fashion management and HR; one that allowed her to live in her favorite places- Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago, Palm Beach, & Newport Beach- before her husband, Derek, caught on to her plan. The couple moved to Jacksonville in 2013 for Derek’s second career in the Navy, where they now live happily as a party of four: their son, Mac, joined them in 2014 and their daughter, Josie, came less than two years later. Erin spends her weekends exploring Jacksonville with the fam, her weekdays learning how to be a Stay At Home Mom who’s never at home, and her nights knee-deep in t-shirt designs for Brindle &The Blonde- with one eye on the video monitor, of course.


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