More than friends

When we moved this past summer, we changed two time zones. Combine that with the fact that I have to wake up ridiculously early to teach on China time so I go to bed early, and you have a formula for me getting to wake up to some fun things from friends in our old town. One such thing happened this morning. My best friend sent me this sweet article on “Long Distance Friends” and their value. The article, short and sweet, got me thinking about a couple of things. First of all, it seems to be talking about your friends in college, and it alerted me to how I am so not in college. The important thinking was in what the article mentioned about the types of best friends we have. I enjoyed that and it really rang true.

Like the article says, long distance best friends are awesome. Mine is an extraordinary human I have known for long enough that she’s seen the best and worst of my adulthood. I look forward to our daily texts- yes, daily, multiple texts- and get to hear about the minor annoyances in her life. I get to complain to her, and tell her jokes, and let her know when I’ve fallen… That’s probably why we ‘talk’ every day. As you all know, I’m not graceful. I’m fortunate to have her. I am thankful every day.

There’s the letter writing best friend. This person is so special to me because our friendship was really just beginning to blossom in the year before my family moved. Now we have become so close through the process of change, and we support each other with physical letters. We text from time to time, and email if we need to (can you tell I’m not at all a phone person?), but the letter writing is really where we shine. It’s beautiful and I am lucky to have her. I am thankful every day.

There’s the “bounce your ideas off me” best friend. This friend is completely unique. I rely on him for so very much, but most importantly I go to him for advice and support. I get positive words about my self image, my career choices, my flighty heart, and my family decisions. I love this man like a true sibling. We were told by someone we both had in common that when we met, good things would happen and she was right. I could never have imagined finding someone I love so very dearly. I am thankful every day.

Lots of times when people ask me who my best friend really is, I say Husband. The thing is, that’s not really true. You shouldn’t be best friends with yourself, and Husband is really just an extension of the best parts of me, I think. It’s very much like Plato’s theory about how souls are split in two and the person you look for, your “soul mate,” is the owner of the other half. It’s a pretty beautiful theory, and one that I absolutely think is spot on. Plus, it’s Plato, and Plato was the man. Not a day goes by when I do not smile because of Husband, even on the worst of all days. We have been through a lot in the 21 (holy moly) years we’ve known each other, from the best days of my life, to the worst days of my life. I would not have wanted to be part of either without him. I am thankful every day.

Some people talk about their children as their friends. It’s very sweet. Also, I hate it. My child is someone I am in charge of, I tell her what to do, what to eat, make her do chores, wash her underwear, etc. That’s not what you do with friends. It’s what you do with children. Do I speak with her intelligently, laugh with her, give advice when things are rough? Absolutely. I expect to be someone she comes to with problems when she is older and seeks advice from as an adult and parent. I hope she sees me as a confidante, someone she can always rely on, a partner in joy and sadness, but I do not want to be her friend.

Being a mother is the most amazing gift I have been given in this life. I am proud of my child every single day, and Daughter is the most perfect representation of my heart that I’ve ever experienced. I adore her in a way that I will never love another human. Motherly love is unique and can be felt in several ways. If your child is biologically yours or if you are fortunate enough to be able to adopt or have a child through a surrogate or foster or however you accomplish your family, you have a very limited number of people who are “yours.” Of course I don’t mean to claim possession of Daughter, but she is mine in that way that only a child can be. Friendship is a lovely thing and my life is made richer for it. Why would I want something that I can give so freely to an unlimited number of people to be what I give my child? What I can give my child is unique. The love I have for her is completely its own, and I would never cheapen it by claiming to be her friend. Friendship, though remarkable, is sometimes fleeting. We grow and change as humans; sometimes we grow apart from our friends, sometimes we simply fall out of touch. This is impossible with Daughter. Our hearts are connected. Elizabeth Stone is attributed with this quote, which I think sums up the parent/child relationship perfectly: “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Isn’t it, though?

I love my friends. I adore them. There are a few whom I would genuinely not make it through some of my rougher days without. They support me and I support them. There is a give and take and sadness and elation and wonder that I am lucky to share with them, and I will not have that with Daughter. I am her mother, and it’s so much more.

Originally posted on Elephants in the Room