I recently captioned a photo of myself with my daughters, “My sweet little best friends” and I was disheartened when someone commented, “You can’t be their best friend and their mother, they’ll never respect you.”
I wanted to say, “Mind your business Susan,” but instead I simply said, “I have to disagree, there are few people I respect more than my best friend. I respect her viewpoints, I respect her as a confidant, and I even respect her criticisms.” I left the comment section with that and moved on determined not to look back for a rebuttal or to engage more, but there is more, so much more to say and here it is.
I grew up with a mother that was not a friend, to this day as 40 is knocking my door—like that pesky neighbor I don’t like—we are not friends. My mother was the authority figure I desperately tried to overthrow as a kid; my mother was never trusted to hold the secrets of my heart or a confidant to voice my opinions when those were contrary to hers. When a boy broke my heart I never entrusted that to her—the one time I did her only reply was, “I told you he was bad news.” When I felt anxiety over the wilds of adolescent social life she was not my go to, when I felt sadness over lost friendships she was not my shelter, she was not my counselor for the trials and tribulations of my heart, she was not my friend. My mom laid down the law and was the watching eye to ensure I adhered to it, she was the judgment if I misstepped, and she was the one I shielded so many things from because I had no inclination she would ever understand.
Throughout my tweens and teens I did turn to my best friend. My best friend since fifth grade (and still, 26 years later) was the person I sought solace in when trying to navigate the jungle of adolescent years; she is who I confided in when an upcoming test was bugg’n me out (I grew up in the 90s and that is totally the phrase we used). My best friend tended to my wounded heart, she was entrusted with my dreams and passions, and she was the person I sought for all things that were my heart and soul. I respected her opinions even when they were contrary to mine. I sought her advice and took it with confidence. She was my source of emotional support with all that life threw at me (and she still is). I went to my best friend for so many trials and triumphs in my life, all the things I want my daughters to come to me about. I know they may choose to seek shelter in a peer instead of their mom, but I want them to feel like I am in their corner. I want them to feel nothing is off-limits and they can confide in me about anything. I want them to know I am a trusted advisor to anything that encumbers their hearts.
When my girls are questioning their place in this world, I want them to seek me for guidance. When my girls need emotional support I want them to know they can trust their mom to listen and HEAR their needs and desires. I want my girls to know I am their confidante as they get their hearts torn apart by boys, friendships, and all the other trials that growing up tosses at them. I want them to regard me as sympathetic ear. I want them to know I will also be an open source of emotional support and understanding.
I want them to know that yes, I am their mother—but I am also their friend.
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