A Mother OR A Best Friend OR Both?

Written by Lee

“My mother is my best friend.”

I’ve heard friends and others say that quite a lot in my lifetime.  From as early as high school, through college and into adulthood.  Now as a mother, I hear other mothers say it – “My daughter and I are best friends.”

And I’m all – huh?

Not like I don’t get the concept.  I get the concept.  It’s just that I never had that kind of relationship with my mother and I never will.  And I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way.

I could write on and on about my relationship with my mother and how at times it pains me to the core but in an empty aching type of way as I wonder what I might have missed, or am still missing, by not having a mother that is a best friend or even a friend.  ‘Cause really – I’m not friends with my mother.  Really. I’m not.

She’s my mom.  A mother.  And I think she was a good one.

She did all of the things that a good mother does like cooking and cleaning and planning and organizing and shopping and laundry and the million small things that no one ever notices a mother does for her family in the course of each and every day.  

And mainly she was there.  Always there.  The silent backbone of our family, quietly holding us together during the years that my father was barely making a dime to support a family of six without us ever feeling how desperate times really were.  Quietly supporting us and encouraging us to be who we wanted to be without pressure or judgement. Mellowly guiding us without us ever really realizing she was guiding us.

And in the grand scheme of things, it was enough.  More than enough.  All I really needed.

But when I hear this best friend concept floating around, it gets me thinking…..what if?

What if I could have really talked to my mom about all the confusing stuff going on in a teenage girl’s mind? What if I could have actually enjoyed a shopping trip with my mom looking for a prom dress or a wedding dress? What if I had actually wanted my mom to be in the delivery room with me when I pushed out her first grandchild?  What if I had a desire to call my mom to talk about the struggles I have as a mother and listen to her wise advice?  What if I wanted to travel with my mom?  Laugh with my mom?  Hug my mom tight?  

What if?

Now that I’m a mother of two young girls, here is my chance.  A chance to start over, to create a mother-daughter relationship that is everything my mom was to me and more.  

Much much more.

All the motherly duties and constant presence but mix in some actual friendship.

Is it possible?

Do I really know how?  

Will I be able to gently guide my girls during their confusing teenage years when the time is ripe for a plethora of bad choices if I act like a friend?  How can I send the message I want to send – that “No, I don’t think you should sleep with your boyfriend, you’re only 16!” if I hold her hand, take her to the doctor and get her birth control pills?  How can I be that quiet force firm in my beliefs of what is right and what is wrong if I chat with them while getting a pedicure and listen to some of the wrong choices they are making?  

Is that who I want to be?  Need to be?  For them?  So they don’t wonder someday what it might have been like to have a mother who they could also call their friend?

I firmly believe that children don’t need more friends, they need parents.  But my heart tells me there’s a balance there that I can strike.  

I’m just not sure how.

All I know is that although I know my sooner-than-I-want-them-to-be teenage daughters probably don’t need to share every minute detail of their lives with their “friend-mom”, I sure as hell know that I don’t want them to ever feel nervous or scared to talk to me. About anything.

When I was in the 7th grade, I followed my mom around for a half of a Saturday, watching her cook, watching her scrub toilets, just watching her, waiting and waiting to get up the nerve to ask her if she would take me to get my first bra. It was torture saying those words to my mom.

And I never want my girls to feel that way.  

So as I sit here in my childhood Arizona home and memories of my life flood my brain around every corner, I simply wonder if I can do it.  

I want to be all that my mom was and more.  I want to dare to bring a little friendship into the mother-daughter relationship that defines so much of who we are and who we become.  
I’m just not sure how to do it exactly.

But I swear, I’m gonna find a way.  I want to.

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