Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Mom ≠ My Best Friend

This entry is not going to be popular. Still, I write.

A social media post made weeks back inspired this Wednesday. It was by a talented gal who has a lot going on in her early 20-something life. It was a grateful tribute to her mom who is her partner in crime and remained her very best friend in this world. What would she do with out her? She claimed to have the best friend in the world in her mother. 

I didn't argue or disagree with the post (though she's not had the pleasure of meeting Linda). I did read it and immediately feel sorry for the gal. What a disappointment.

You see, while I think my mom is one of best out there, I also say this with confidence: 

My Mom has never been my best friend - and for good reason. 
Do you each remember that one kid you went to school with, the one with the prettiest mom? 

The mother stood out because she looked younger than the rest of the moms in the class and she dressed to fit that role, too. She was the Mom who asked about the latest gossip in the school and knew exactly who was dating who. She was completely invested in her child's life. So much so that the two lives seemed to merge every once in a while. She was incredibly fun and forgiving, mostly because her parenting style was "Been there, done that. Wouldn't mind doing it again." 

Yeah, I remember that mom, too. 

It wasn't mine. 

Mine knew who was dating who only after I told her, but my information usually wasn't accurate because sometimes I lost track of those things, myself. 
Mine was invested in my life. But also her marriage to Dad. And the life of her two other children. And keeping a home. And a farm. And being devoted to her home extension club
Mine forgave me only after I had learned the lesson. And for some reason I had the tendency to learn the hard way?...

The point is, I was raised by a mom who knew where to draw the line between being our parent and being our friend. And while that was a tough concept to understand (/respect) a decade ago, it's one for which I am incredibly grateful. I'm better for having one less "friend" and one more strong parent.

There are several reasons why, when parents become best friends, damage can occur. I blogged months ago that "fathers teach us confidence and mothers teach us compassion." But darn it, mothers teach us confidence, too. 

Best friends can't be role models. Think of that best friend whom you wanted to model yourself after - wasn't there just a little bit of envy? Wasn't there just little part of you that wished you were more like them, rather than yourself? We can't teach our daughters confidence when the very model they're designed to emulate is viewed as competition in their eyes - or visa versa. With today's diluted values, overshadowed by wacky media, mothers are made to be older versions of their children, rather than experienced models in which to follow. 

Lindsay and her Mom

Lindsay and her Mom

Pretty much the only difference in the pairs is less hair in the bottom two. 
And, Momma and I have never showed up to the same club wearing the same Express cami. 

But it isn't just mothers who can steer us wrong by trying to be our best friend. Not long ago a had a conversation with a friend where I asked, "What happened to him?" I was referring to a bright kid who seemed to have lost his way sometime between high school and ten years later. The friend's honest response: "I am not joking one bit when I say that downfall of this kid was that his dad wanted to be his friend. Not his parent. He didn't have guidance, he had someone who wanted to run the course with him. It ruined him. He never grew up because he didn't know what grown up looked like." I was taken back, but not surprised at all.

Another reason why I'm grateful Momma never tried to be my best friend:
Best friends don't give the most sound advice. 
Best friends want to see you happy. They tell you things to prevent tears. They exercise caution with their words and cushion reality with cotton ball adjectives so they don't hurt feelings. 
Parents give sound advice because your happiness validates their role. 
Parents expect tears and slamming doors and silence and not being the most liked person. And they're OK with that. Their popularity with you isn't the goal at hand.  
They give great advice because they don't want you living in their basement for the next 15 years. 
And also because the content of their Christmas letter to high school friends depends greatly on how happy their kids are. No one wants to read about little Jill who got released out of juvi early for the second winter in a row. She's an all-star, for sure. 

I remember quite vividly a time when Momma taught me this lesson far before anyone else could. We were in GAP at the Muncie Mall. I took a pair of size 6 jeans to the dressing room and from the knee up I had to literally back to the wedding dress disaster). I knew they were tight. But didn't guys my age like tight jeans on girls?

I walked out to show Momma and she made me turn around. 
Her first question: Will you feel comfortable wearing those in front of friends and family?

Darn her sensibility!!!

She wasn't there to be a friend; she was (is) my voice of reason.
She also had to peel said jeans off of me. That also made her handy to have around that day. 
I know good and well that had I taken any of my friends to the mall that day, I would have bought those jeans. And probably a second pair. 

My Momma has never been my best friend.
And do you know why?
She never had the time,
Because she's always invested her time and efforts into being one heck of a mom.

Two weeks before our wedding I met Momma at the local jeweler to get her opinion on bridesmaids' gifts. While looking through the Pandora bracelets and charms I picked up one that I made me smile. I pulled it from the grey cushion and showed it to her. It was a reversible charm that read "Best Friend" on one side and "Best Mom" on the other.
Her response, after getting out her bifocals out to read it: "That's pretty.......but it's not really us?"
She was right.
And I am grateful.

"Suck it in...More."


  1. You have shared some great insight and obviously have a great Mom!

  2. You hit the nail on the head! Every girl and mother should read this. I hope if my adult daughters do read this they will feel the same as you. I always told my girls when they were teens if you like me than I'm not doing my job, but one day when you have kids of your own you will understand. We need more Moms like Linda. So many of our youth are lost with no guidance.

    1. Thank you for reading! I agree - we're in a scary place when fewer parents actually parent and more are concerned with being "liked".

  3. I like it and I agree. My mama was not one to mince words and she never missed an opportunity to help me grow. That being said, I've always tried to be tge kind of friend Mom was. I'd rather you tell me I have spinach in my teeth than let me embarrass myself. That's probably why we get along so well, Lindsay Jean. We know what lifetime friends really look like. Love you and Miss Linda!

  4. Lindsay Jean, YOU are going to make a great mom someday! I love this insight and am glad that someone had the sense to put it out there! I just saw a prime example of the best friend mom in the pediatrician's office this week and I was seriously saddened both for the mom for looking like a FOOL but more so for the two teen girls who would never learn the life lessons I was blessed with.

  5. like the old style :-)
    awesome ...

  6. After reading this, it sounds like me and my daughter. Though going through life, you don't think of it, you just react. So a thank you, love you Mom, is in order for my mother. Thank you to my daughter, Alli, for posting it on my fb page. You are the Best! If ever you have kids, Im sure they will be as great as you! Love you, Mom...