There are six women I call my best friends. I would walk through hell-fire for these women and the feelings are mutual. I am exceptionally fortunate in this regard. I love my mother, but I would not characterize her as one of my best friends although the walking through hell-fire analogy still applies. In my own experience as an adult daughter, “Mother” and “Best Friend” are like rain and snow–similar, but not the same.
I know some women who call their mother their best friend. I’m fascinated by this relationship. When they speak about one another in this way, I’m keenly aware of the details in their stories and the quality of their interactions. I’m curious what that best-mother-friend relationship looks like from the inside. I mean… what kind of mother do you have to be to have your daughter feel that way about you? I just really need to know.
All this need for labels might have something to do with my sorted history with the label of “best friend.” In those confusing and often brutal middle school years labels are everything. Finding who you are and where you fit into the group is of all importance at that age. When I was a tween, my friends and I created our own way of labeling each other. Our system consisted of a hierarchy of best friendship. You had your basic, garden variety, BF. If you felt particularly close to a BF, you could add an ‘F’ making them your Best Friend FOREVER or BFF. That was always a nice complement. But the most coveted label came with four letters, VBFF which stood for VERY Best Friend FOREVER. Oh how original and presumptuous we were at the tender age of twelve.
It was serious business too. I remember the D.E.V.A.S.T.A.T.I.O.N. I felt when the friend I called my VBFF said I was only her BFF. She issued a cease and desist on using the ‘V’ at the end of our notes. I cried many tween-sized tears and wrote even more notes pleading my case that I deserved the extra V. In the end, it did no good. I was permanently demoted and it was a twelve-year-old crying shame, people. Tragedy with a capital T.
In the last several weeks my 3-year-old daughter started to call me her best friend FOREVER. It is impossibly cute and melts my soft, sentimental heart every time. Shamelessly, I prompted her to call me her VERY best friend FOREVER and then I taught her how to pinky swear promise.
In a few days she will go to school for the first time. I know, it’s preschool, and it’s only two days a week but STILL. Still. The whole “school thing” reminds me how soon she will be in those awkward middle school years and facing friend labeling dramas of her own–probably on a much grander, digital scale, such as Facebook. <cringe>
I know that it’s impossible to stop time, but watching your babies step too easily over huge milestones will make you want that and I find myself there now. Sure, I could keep her home with me one more year, but she’s ready for school and she’s beyond excited for new experiences. Preschool is in her best interest which will always be my interests, too.
Still, I can’t help wishing for just a little more time with her while she still believes I am her very best friend forever because I know that in a blink of an eye my label will keep getting demoted of letters until I become simply, “Mom,” without the M and the Y.
I know, you don’t have to say it, I’m not supposed to be her best friend. I’m supposed to be her Mom and I am… and I will. I will lecture the shit out of her and I will ground her to her room for days and she will tell me she hates me FOREVER but I’ll do it anyway. I won’t like it, but I’ll do it because it’s in her best interest and FOREVER, those will be mine.
I know this first-day-of-school-keepsake-letter has been written a hundred times, a hundred ways, but this is mine to my littlest, very, best friend whom I’ve known all her life…
I’m going to leave you here all by yourself now. Don’t worry you’ll be okay because it’s just for a little while and I will be back real soon. When you are gone, I’ll think about you and when you get home, I want to hear all about your day so try to remember, okay? I would say “be brave” but who am I kidding you are the bravest littl–sorry--BIG girl I know. So just go have fun, okay? Be nice. Listen to your teacher and for God’s sake PLEASE tell someone when you have to go potty!
Oh, and Honey Bears… it’s okay if you find a new best friend. I’m okay with just being your Mommy, okay?
I pinky swear promise.
And just like that it’s that time again–time to let her go a little more. I know this.
But one day, maybe when she’s walking her own baby into preschool for the first time–if I am exceptionally fortunate in that regard–I hope she calls me her very best friend forever… again. It’s a label I’m working so hard to earn.