“Don’t be friends with your kids.”
“Don’t be a friend. Be a parent.”
“I’m not your friend, I’m your mom.”
Did you nod? Sure. Me, too.
Before I had a kid. Before I spent close to every waking minute willing another human to survive and duct taping cushions to everything in our house. Before I held her close and spent time just listening to her breathe. Before all the days at the park and the nights in a rocking chair. I nodded. I “UmmHmm”-ed. Hell, I even said it. But here it is.
Confession: My daughter is currently my best friend.
We talk everyday. I love spending time with her. She’s going to school in the fall and I’ve cried more times than I ever did when a friend moved away. I love hanging out with her. She’s sitting at my feet coloring as I write this, now. Sometimes I’ll see something on TV, or out the window, or in the garden and rush to share it with her. We read books together. We hide from thunderstorms. I spend the majority of each day with her. We paint pictures. We watch movies. We do yoga. (OK, I do yoga. She does some sort of a hybrid Mortal Kombat/Twister where she crawls underneath me and tries to lift up my hands and feet with kicking and fireballs.) I comfort her when she cries and she makes me laugh like there’s no tomorrow. So, why am I telling you this? Why am I admitting this shameful secret? Because there is a tomorrow and my days are numbered.
Not because of cancer or because she’s starting school. My days are numbered because she’s growing up. She’s not always going to want this. Soon there will be school friends and sleep-overs. Not long after that there will be dances and going to the movies “as a group”. In a few short years, I’ll be old news. Just the boss or the disciplinarian. The rule maker and the queen of “not in my house”. She’ll be my best friend, but I won’t be hers.
She won’t need to sleep in my bed when thunder shakes the house. She won’t crawl into my lap after a long day out in the sun. She won’t hold my hand just because she wants to feel me beside her. Years will pass. Decades probably, before she really wants my advice or heeds it. Soon we’ll hug in greetings and goodbyes instead of because we have to. Because we need to.
So, I’m OK if you don’t think I should be best friends with my daughter, because soon enough–I won’t be.
But I’m holding out hope for the day she comes back. I have this theory, because I’ve seen it happen. The friends, who never saw eye-to-eye with their mothers as teens, talk to them on the phone twice each day. They plan vacations together and go to concerts. No, their mothers never stop needing them, but, finally, they’ve realized what it really means to “want your mom”.
And I’ll wait. I’ll wait for the day she calls her mom, because no ones else will understand. I’ll wait for the visits that last “just an extra day” because she needs to be at home. I’ll wait for the days when she has her own family and, suddenly, I’m cast in a whole new light. I’ll wait for the days when we’ll forgive the disagreements and laugh at some of the mistakes. The days when the fights will be forgotten and once again I’ll have her back.
Today, I’ll enjoy all the impromptu hugs and dancing around the kitchen to help make the popcorn “pop”. I’ll laugh at her “jokes” and fix her hair just how she likes. I’ll show her how to be a friend, a very best friend, so she’ll know what to look for out in the world. And soon I’ll cry, both happy and sad, when she finds one to take my place.
My best friend is growing up and it’s going to be tough. Like stuffed animals and favorite blankets, I’ll soon be left behind. This part of our relationship will draw to a close, and she’ll find someone else better suited to her needs. But I’m hoping that one day she’ll come back. I’ll be waiting if she does. Ready to share a story, a laugh, and maybe a cry. I will wait for her.
Because that’s what best friends do.
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