I remember one night at our kitchen table when my oldest child was just over 2, we were eating dinner together and laughing, sharing in the joy of our life. At that time my husband was working second shift and so it was just my boy and me most nights. I remember that night so clearly as we sat at the table enjoying our time together, and I thought how much I enjoy my son, and what a great little friend he was. And then I froze. I had been told so many times that you can not be friends with your child. You could not, and should not. I remember realizing that indeed I did think of him as my friend and was really reveling in the joy of our friendship until I remembered those words well-meaning people often spoke to me. I felt sad for a few minutes, but then I put it out of my head and continued on with our happy life. Our son was still nursing and sleeping in our bed at that point. If I didn’t listen to people about those things, why focus on this one?
Nine years later, my son is still one of my best friends. Most of the time I don’t think much about it; our life doesn’t really look like anything society would consider a normal mainstream life, so why focus on this one “out of the norm” issue? I do think about it when I see the memes and e-cards floating around Facebook that talk about “I am your mother, I will be your worst nightmare, not your friend, because I love you….etc., etc., etc. “ I think about it when I see those because those make me so sad. I wonder how many moms actually feel that way? I know there are people out there who think I am crazy for thinking those e-cards are horrible. I know there are many who want to pat me on the head condescendingly and tell me to “just wait until my kids are older”, others who just shake their head at me, and maybe a few smiling with me as they hug their child, knowing they feel the same way I do.
I wonder sometimes if people really understand the meaning of the word friend, or how to be one. I love my friends. I don’t want to see them get hurt. If they are making mistakes, or wrong or scary decisions, I talk to them about those decisions with love and caring. I want the best for my friends. I help them when I can. Aren’t those the ways to guide a child as they follow their path to adulthood? Maybe the difference is not in how people see their friends, but rather how they see their children. My children are not a cog in a machine. They are not soldiers in my army. They are not a piece of clay for me to mold. They are not my pet, or my property. They are amazing human beings who bless my life every day and I am privileged to walk alongside them as they journey through life.
I am sure there are many who say it doesn’t work. That you simply can not be friends with your kids because they won’t listen to you, or they will take advantage of you, or they will simply run wild. I would again ask how those people view friendship. I happen to be living proof that it does work. I did not think about it too much until I was older, but my mother definitely raised me as her friend. We went to concerts together, classical, and goth. We did theatre together. We hung out together. She came with me when I got my first tattoo. We had a mutual love and respect. I never took advantage of her, never ran wild, and I think I turned out ok.
My son is funny. He is compassionate and caring. He has amazing taste in music. He loves Disney, Star Wars, Comic Books, Cosplay and Imagination. We can talk about religion, books, modern society, our thoughts, our dreams and our fears. We have so much in common and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company. Isn’t that what anyone would look for in a friend?