Atta Girl!

While doing my weekly food shopping yesterday I innocently turned into an aisle to find a woman with one hand on a bag of chips on the shelf near to her while stretching her body across the aisle, her arm in the air, trying (in vain) to reach a different brand of chips on the opposite shelf.  Stop and try to visualize this: it was an impossible act to successfully accomplish unless, of course, she was 8’ tall with the arm span to match.  Our eyes met and she froze as if in a game of statue while smirking at the oddity of her stance.  I looked at her and said nothing, but she offered that she was trying to compare the two different chips and we both laughed at the absurdity of the lengths she was going to in order to make the right decision regarding potato chips.  Intellectually she appreciated the insanity and impossibility of her ability to access both bags simultaneously, yet felt the weight of her Superwoman cape and decided to give it a whirl oblivious to(or at least not caring) how she appeared to others. Not a bad mantra by which to live your life: just give it a try, no matter how others may scrutinize…and hope for some support along the way which, I am pleased to say, I provided (the support, that is).

As I continued down the aisle, I turned back to her and said, “We girls have to stick together…knock yourself out”.  She smiled and we exchanged an“atta girl” acknowledgment; props to her just for trying.  We then we parted ways, each, on a Sunday morning, doing our part to keep our families sated at the most primal level with an unexpected shot of “atta girl” thrown in.  Gots to get it when we can I always say.

That brief exchange got me thinking of how supportive and wonderful the women (Aside: many guys have been great, too, but this is for the gals) in my life have been not just during this latest transition (and it has been a transition for everyone) but over, for many, the course of decades.  The value of the “atta girl” message cannot be overstated.  It can, however,  change your day.

After loading the bundles (all $237 worth) into the trunk I heard a “ding” from my phone which, truth be told, I knew meant something, but was unsure if it was a text, a calendar reminder or perhaps a prompt to take my turn in Words with Friends.  I unearthed the phone from my handbag and discovered that, alas, it was none of my predictions; it was actually a voicemail message.  I fingered the necessary buttons to hear what I had missed (I hadn’t even heard the phone ring) and was gifted with a message from a dear friend whom I haven’t seen in a couple of months.  I had left her a message the other day (I am going to assume that she didn’t hear her phone ring, either) telling her that I was thinking about her and hoped she was well.  Her return message said that she, too, has been thinking about me and does so everyday (a reference to the, shall we say complicated life with Jessie).  I felt a warmth run through me as I was reminded of the love and support we have for one another, despite not having been in the same place at the same time for too long.  I thought of the “secrets” I have shared with her (despite what you may think, I do not share everything on here!) and her never, not once, having judged me rather been among the first in line to give me a much-needed (and appreciated)   “Atta girl!”

Driving home, I started thinking of the many, many people who have come out of the woodwork to show their support for the trials and tribulations which my family has seemed to corner the market on lately.  In the ten months since having gone “public” with Jessie’s transition I have received the following: cards, letters, clothing (for her…it would be weird – but wonderful – if people gave me clothes), gift certificates for manicures and shopping at Justice (which, incidentally, is not for the faint of heart), emails, Facebook friend requests (c’mon, everyone gets a quick thrill when the little people icon has a number hovering above it) and support for the words I share on these pages; translation: lots and lots of “atta girl”s.   Each interaction, be it over the phone, electronically or in person has contained an appropriate, and healthy, combination of anxiety and compassion, both of which I wholly appreciate.  But I wonder if they all know just how much.  I look at each outreach as an “atta girl” of sorts…and they get me through the day.

Just as I told the acrobatically challenged woman in the supermarket, “We girls have to stick together” I have never felt that so strongly as now.  Sure, she looked ridiculous while publicly attempting to execute an impossible task, but some might say the same about me.  I have chosen to share our adventure with the world based on the (perhaps dangerous) assumption that people have got my back.  So far, except for the haters and mudslingers slaying me from the comfort of their mother’s basements, I have met with nothing but support.  Admittedly, some is more awkward than others, but all come from a good (no, wonderful) place.

I do worry sometimes that I have gotten so wrapped up in the daily mishegas (that is Yiddish for craziness: it is a great word and, in my mind, translates to so much more than your garden variety craziness) that is my life right now that I am not as free-flowing with the “atta girls” to the wonderful women (okay, and men) in my life as I wish to be.  Perhaps that explains my need (yes, it was a need) to commend the supermarket lady on the cumbersome stunt she was trying to carry out in the aisles of Super Stop & Shop; I know how valuable the unrequested commendation can be, even on a non-crappy day.

So let me take this opportunity to give a few “atta girls” right here, right now:

MG: You work full-time, have a family and weren’t even born Jewish, but you take in my entire family every year for the holidays. It is just one of the reasons I love you.

JW: You are kicking ass with everything you need to do – I promise you that your kids will thank you someday…just not today.  I will personally see to it.

RR: You manage to always know the right thing to say, at the right time and to the right people.  You are a wonderful friend to everyone who is fortunate enough to be able to call you theirs.

MS: You’ve faced down huge obstacles and, even when you’ve slipped up, you’ve kept your sense of humor and been victorious in the end.

IK: You translate for the sick and worry about how everyone else is doing, even when you have at least one extra kid in the house at all times.

JL: You taught me all the right things to do as a mother and have never once let me down.  (Okay, that one is pretty transparent, but moms should get as many “atta girls” as possible.)

I could go on and on.  Everyone is facing their own mishegas everyday and no one is getting as many “atta girls” as they deserve.  So, the next time you see a stranger bravely attempting to do the impossible, think of how you feel when you are climbing uphill and give them your best, “atta girl”.  It will make their day.

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16 thoughts on “Atta Girl!

  1. Julie —
    This is a really lovely piece, so appropriate for this week of the Jewish calendar. My daughter and I had a very similar conversation on the phone today — the power of the women in one another’s lives. So important!

  2. Let me also send you a big fat atta girl all the way from South Africa. I hope I can do as good a job raising my kids as you are doing. I think you are a fabulous mommy.

  3. I have a too-seldom date with my gal pals tonight to exchange atta-girls. With one of my friends having recently gotten a DWI after being sober for 20+ years and trying desperately to work her program to find peace and sanity again, another working tirelessly to lose 60 pounds, and me struggling to keep myself above water financially it clearly won’t be an evening of wine and endless appetizers. We won’t be getting tipsy and laughing (or crying) at ourselves, wondering aloud how we managed to get ourselves into these messes. Even so, atta-girls over a cup of coffee or after a half-price movie are just as cathartic and really seem to leave us all holding our heads higher. It help us make it through the next few days or weeks until, just as we start wondering to ourselves again how we can possibly manage, that atta-girl phone call, text, card or e-mail seems to arrive at just the right time to help us straighten our spines and forge ahead once more.

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