Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Big Girl Pants

I got an email this morning from a friend who learned I have taken on a leadership challenge.

“I could never do that. . .” she said.

She gave me a good laugh. We organized a group together, starting from scratch, in a previous life, and she was one of the very first to step up to the plate, to volunteer for a job I considered burdensome, but she has done it well for over three years now.

I grew up around the military. There were always these older women around, really together women, women who organized things, women who managed, women who were leaders. They were also totally intimidating women, and behind their backs we called them the “tough old birds,” not without admiration.

The turning point came for me in my early thirties, when I saw a job that needed doing, and I knew I could do it at least as well as it was being done, and probably better. I knew I had a lot of resources available to help me do the job, just needed some organizing. I took the project, did the job, and it all worked out great. I was not yet a tough old bird, but I knew I was now playing with the big girls.

The phrase I keep coming across now is “put on your big girl panties,” some add “and deal with it.” I’ve seen it in a couple ads, and in more than a couple blogs . . . it seems to be a phrase of the day. (Google it – you’ll see what I mean.) It means dealing with an situation that needs to be handled, even if unpleasant, even if you don’t want to. It means taking responsibility. It can mean you’ve taken a hit and have to keep going. Most of all, it means you’re at a higher level of performance than before, and you need to meet a new standard. I think it’s a hoot.

(It originates in toilet training, when a toddler goes from diapers to cloth pants, called “big-boy pants/ big-girl panties” and it means literally, you are now expected not to have any accidents, but to use the facilities just as big boys and big girls do.)

The elastic on my big girl panties is giving out. I’ve been wearing them for a while now. I have probably now reached the age when women are calling me tough old bird behind my back. When did that happen?

To all my faithful friends out there, friends who have been my friends for years and tens of years (you know who you are) I am proud of you, and more thankful for you that I can express. Aren’t there days when we wish we weren’t big girls? Aren’t there days when we just want to run and hide, and not take those responsibilities? Aren’t there times when you want to say “no! I can’t do that!”? You’ve helped me through all those days.

Thanks to your love and support, putting on big-girl panties hasn’t been so bad. And we’ve had a lot of laughs along the way. Thanks for being along for the ride.

May 8, 2007 - Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Generational, Humor, Women's Issues, Words


  1. Ha! I wear big-girl-panties at least 5 days a week, own several pair, and they’re custom made from pliable titanium but stencilled with a saucy leopard pattern. Because there ARE those times when I just don’t want to play any more, and the leopard print gives me courage. And on that note, I am off to an all-day meeting, where I will need them. My personal trick is to have the outwear contradict the panties…(I lean towards sparkles and beadwork)…then flash them as needed! As if you didn’t know… 😉

    Comment by SparklePlenty | May 8, 2007 | Reply

  2. Sparkle, I agree, your big girl panties are titanium. You are a true heroine in my book, when it comes to stepping up to the plate, dear one, you are THERE.

    Comment by intlxpatr | May 8, 2007 | Reply

  3. Intlxpatr, I have learned well from my Big Sisters.

    Comment by SparklePlenty | May 8, 2007 | Reply

  4. Mmm I just got a few pairs in the past two years or so. sometimes they fit beautifully and sometimes … its a struggle!

    Comment by adiamondinsunlight | May 9, 2007 | Reply

  5. I want to say that I know about the “tough old birds” (having also lived with the military for many years)women you admire and aspire to and intlxpatr, you are one of those. I have tried to put on big-girl panties and do my bit and hope that somewhere along the line someone thought of me as a ‘tough old bird’, once you have put on the big-girl panties there is no going back.

    Comment by Quiltingoma | May 9, 2007 | Reply

  6. Little Diamond, you are right. Sometimes they are too tight, and sometimes they are big pants to fill . . . .And sometimes . . . . they are kick a$$!

    Comment by intlxpatr | May 9, 2007 | Reply

  7. Welcome, QuiltingOma! I think you’ve worn out a pair or two of the big girl pants yourself! 😉 Kinda hard to think of US as tough old birds, don’t you think. I mean like – when did that happen?????

    Comment by intlxpatr | May 9, 2007 | Reply

  8. Hey, if Oma is Jedi in Arabic, that makes you QuiltingJedi!

    Comment by intlxpatr | May 9, 2007 | Reply

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