How may times have I heard someone say, “I don’t want to be my kid’s friend, I want to be their mom (or dad)?”
I love being friends with my two daughters. Make no mistake, they both know that I am their mom first. I lay down the law, I have the last word, and I am never afraid that they’re not going to like me. I say no easily and without guilt because I am their mother. That doesn’t mean we can’t also be friends.
What does being friends with my girls look like?
We share everything. And I mean everything. We talk nonstop, about our days and our thoughts and our plans. We have a zillion inside jokes. We laugh often. We wear each other’s clothes. I have a little black lace jacket we call Sisterhood of the Traveling Jacket because it magically works on all three of us.
We do each other’s hair and makeup and we watch girly movies and dance around like dorks together. We steal each other’s hair ties and socks and practically go to war over it.
We read many of the same books and stand in line to see the same movies and concerts. We share secret Pinterest boards. We play games. We go swimming and hiking and camping and shopping and out for frozen yogurt.
When I run errands, they both want to come with me and we crank up Taylor Swift and sing along loudly (them, beautifully and me, off key) and we laugh and giggle and eat samples at Costco.
We talk about boys. A lot. If I had a nickel for every minute spent talking about boys, I’d have enough to put them in an all-girls college.
We share what God is doing in our daily walk with Him, excited about verses He gives us and guidance that comes.
We talk about the future, and the kind of moms they’ll be and the kind of grandma they think I’ll be. We dream up imaginary weddings and baby showers and nurseries.
We talk about businesses they’d like to start and jobs they’d enjoy having. We talk about the world and how things are. We talk about friends and hurt feelings and how to keep going when they want to give up on someone.
And, sometimes, we just all lay around quietly, each reading our own book.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t days with slammed doors and stomping upstairs and tears and apologies.
It doesn’t mean that they don’t break my heart sometimes.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t get cranky every day right before lunch and they know they can’t talk to me until I take a bite of food or I might bite their head off.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t order them around. If you’re not ordering your kids around once in a while, you’re really missing out. And so are they.
It doesn’t mean I don’t have my own life and my own friends and my own interests. It does mean, though, that the best part of my life is for and with my family. And I enjoy the heck out of it.
When Coco was 14, a mom of another 14 year old asked me how I got Coco to talk to me. A group of women all nodded their heads and said their daughters wouldn’t talk to them about anything.
I didn’t quite know what to say. I’d seen this particular mom brush her kid off and tell her to go away more times than I could count. You can only do that so many times before they start listening.
Mommies of littles, it starts when they are young.
It is listening and caring, even about the littlest things. It’s staying up late talking about something so minor that you know it will be forgotten in three days, when your eyes are almost closing on their own because you are so tired, but you stay up and listen anyway, because in that moment, it is important to your child.
It is sharing your life. It is making one-on-one time regularly. It is laughing and being silly. It is having fun. It is saving the best parts of yourself for your family.
But mostly, it’s listening. Because if you want them to talk to you later, you have to listen now.
And it’s never too late to start.