Thanks to my girls, I’m pretty familiar with the tween movie “Aquamarine,” about a teen mermaid who gets some time out of the water. In one scene, she introduces her new girlfriends on land to the earrings she wears, small starfish that “compliment her.” And no, she doesn’t mean “complement her.” She says, “They literally give me compliments. They talk to me. Starfish are notorious suck-ups. They love to give me compliments.” She picks out a few great specimens from the sea and proceeds to attach them to her earlobes and those of her friends. The starfish latch on and very pleasingly spout many sweet sayings into the girls’ ears. “Aquamarine is soooo lovely. She is awesome. And she is so smart, yes, like tuna.”
I’ve often thought it would be perfectly wonderful to have my own set of starfish earrings. Every woman, especially busy, harried mothers, needs that kind of encouragement on a very regular basis. Some men are good at being starfish for their wives or girlfriends; many are not. This doesn’t mean that women don’t need to hear good things to buoy them up through their busy days.
Me, I like to hear that I’m still pretty, though I’m older and thicker around the waist. I like to hear that I’m smart and talented and capable. I especially need to hear that I’m doing OK, that my efforts for my family and my community and my own interests aren’t unappreciated or just going to waste. I want to know that I’m needed, that what I do matters, that my choices have been good ones, even though sometimes the outcomes haven’t been what I’d anticipated. I need those encouraging words like … well, like a fish needs water.
I have some friends who are particularly great starfish. They give me that encouragement, those sincere words of appreciation and caring that keep me going. I just wish that I could carry those wonderful friends around with me in my pocket or attached to my earlobes! But I’ll take what I can get. Their love and support keep me breathing, keep me moving on, keep me strong enough, just barely, to persevere through busy and frustrating days and weeks. I salute you, my dear starfish. You are my lifeblood. I hope I can be as useful and loving a starfish to you as you have been to me.