“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.”
~ Robert Munsch (One of my favorite booksof all time!)
“I’m so glad you haven’t forced me to be your best friend,” she says, not unkindly but without realizing the impact of her declaration. Why did her words sting when being her best friend had never even been on my periphery??
As I washed dishes and she dried, my mini-me, my first born, my only daughter continued. “I know so many people who say their mom is their best friend, but I haven’t wanted you to be my friend…I needed you to be my mother.”
and off I drifted to another season….
When she was little, she dangled friendship to get what she wanted: “If you don’t let me–
- eat cookies for breakfast
- or watch tv
- or buy something from the Disney Store
- or whatever else she wanted in the moment–
I won’t be your friend anymore.”
Unimpressed with her manipulation, my standard response was always “I don’t wanna be your friend, I’m already your mother!”
She was leveraging what was most valuable to her, friendship. To withhold it from me (in her mind) was costly. It meant something.
“Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” ~ Proverbs 22:6
To the best of our ability, we’ve been intentional parents. God graced us with three amazing children and our heartfelt desire has been to steward their lives responsibly and to honor Christ as we parent them. Though we’ve made plenty of mistakes and I can look back over my shoulder and wish in some cases I’d done things differently, we’ve parented with purpose and forethought.
I haven’t pursued my children’s friendship on purpose.
But as they’ve grown into young adults–14, 16 and 18–I delight in them on another level. I enjoy conversations with them, thankful they’ll talk with me and at times reveal those secret places that rarely make it from heart to lips.
I don’t just love them, I like them, and although sometimes our respective relationships feel like friendship, I’m aware I’m their mom first and always.
While anyone can be their friend, I’m the only person who conceived and carried them for nine months, then delivered them from my body to this world.
They’ll have hundreds of friends throughout their lives but they’ll always have just one mother. Or as they refer to me sometimes, one birth giver :).
She’s still talking and explaining when I return to present; she’s not aware I’ve been gone for a while. Time is a curious thing–when we’re living it, eternities can languish in the seconds; but once a moment falls into our past, no matter how long we waited for it, time is measured in blinks.
Wasn’t it just three blinks ago when my vernix-covered baby girl was swaddled and placed in my arms, eyes wide and lips pursed as she inhaled new life?
And now she’s headed to college??
She’s moving from one season to the next and she’s intoxicated with the soon-to-be-realities of freedom and adventure and discovery. She’s eager and expectant and ready, and though I’m a little reticent and reluctant, I’m more thrilled to watch her walk through open door.
She’s become a Kingdom liver, a Kingdom builder, and in her I realize more than ever before, we’re not made for this world anyway.
So I hold her with open hand (though my fingers are cupped) remembering that we haven’t raised her for ourselves but for someone else, and really, for Someone else. And my heart whispers that familiar refrain “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”
Best friend or not.
Your turn: I’d love to hear your thoughts and also to ask the best advice you can give a high school graduate entering college; what was the best advice you received at this milestone? What do you think is critical for every incoming freshman to know? THANK YOU in advance for taking time to share–it might become fodder for an upcoming post!