I know most mom’s have heard the phrase, “Then I’m not your friend” from their child. I definitely have heard it more than once. And I will confess my answer was always:
#22. That’s right! I’m not your friend!
That was my pat answer to my daughter. And I probably yelled it back with as much irritation as she had said it first to me. I was that mom set on making sure my daughters realized we were not friends. I was the authority figure, the one in charge and I needed them to know that, especially as a single mom. I know many of us can fall into that ‘hanging with our kids mode’ because they’re who we engage most with – not having another adult around 24/7, but I just didn’t believe that would be beneficial in the end.
And then came MIDDLE SCHOOL. I’m not going to lie – that is like a bad word to me. I’ve even considered changing the name of this blog to: Confessions of a Single Mom with Cancer and a Middle School Girl! I knew middle school was probably the worst part of growing up, especially as a girl. For the most part, I was pretty popular, but I vividly remember the day everyone turned against me. I was standing in the library in 6th grade and Mrs. Vinn our librarian was consoling me. For whatever reason – which I totally don’t remember, that day, I was public enemy number one. Friendless and very sad.
Now, when I was growing up, 6th grade was not technically middle school, but nowadays and definitely in Texas, it is. And I don’t know about everyone else, but kids seem to be at least 2 years ahead of us in the growing up category. 8 is the new 10, 10 is the new 12 and 12 is the new 15! So all of the middle school drama comes fast and furious once the girls (at least) enter into the realm of double digits. And with all of that came a realization for me that I wasn’t ready for.
I have to be my daughter’s friend.
This came to me after many situations where my daughter basically was heartbroken by girls she thought were her friends. She wasn’t invited to a birthday party. She wasn’t asked to ride in a certain car after a volleyball game. She wasn’t included in a skit for the end of year show. And every time, I tried to encourage her, pat her on the back, be positive. Then I started getting irritated and rode the line of basically telling her they were all just a bunch of punks anyway that she didn’t need. And finally, I told her the truth – they weren’t her friends and they weren’t good friends.
But they were the only model of ‘friend’ she had. I don’t know what it is about middle school, but there are more mean girls than not – so most girls in some way particularly when it comes to friends and controlling the popularity pyramid are not nice. I could SAY they weren’t good friends all day long, but she had nothing to compare it to.
So I had to be nice to her – like as a friend, not as her mom. I had to show her what people who really love and support you, not just cause you’re family but because you choose to be friends looks like. I had to laugh at her jokes or stories that I really didn’t think were that funny (cause I’m not a middle school girl). I had to watch videos she thought were interesting. I had to listen to her lament over why a boy asked her to change seats with him in class and what it really meant. And even when I wanted to pull my hair out or say WHO CARES!!! I couldn’t. I had to show her that people who choose to love you – listen to you, laugh at the same things you think are funny, and are interested in what happened to you today. She knows as her mom I feel that way, but her mom who was dead set on not being her friend, would have shut down some of that monotony of middle school drama and discussion because it annoyed me, cause I’m an adult. But I now accept that those moments are not about me and I just need to be her friend.
I don’t ever want to go through middle school again. It’s bad enough I have to do it two more times vicariously through my girls. But what I know, that you don’t realize the first time you go through it, is that it’s really a short period of time. A blip on the radar screen of your life. So I suck it up and I laugh at the girls doing that ridiculous dance, or the 500 bottle flip videos. I support her completely when someone upsets her – not making a lesson of every situation (which is REALLY HARD). And I make it clear that I LIKE her.
I told her the other day – I am your best friend, and I meant it.