14 June 2013

On Friendship (Advice to my Daughter)

Girlish friendships can be so intense, can't they?
Women, girls and mothers of daughters, you know what I'm talking about.
Sometimes there's no shortage of drama, tears and hurt feelings. But girlish friendships can also be so wonderful, affirming, warm and supportive.

The other day I found myself dishing out motherly advice to my eight-year-old daughter about friendships. I actually found myself having one of those long-imagined moments where a child of mind sits at my feet and gleans the wisdom won from years of hard lessons about human interaction.
She sat with tears in her eyes (the tears of girlish disappointment because she couldn't find a playdate; her friend-of-choice was busy, always so busy.)
At last my girlie wanted to know what gems I knew. She drew the information from me. She listened!
(oh the joy)

Here's what I told her as we snuggled on my bed and I wiped her tears and smoothed her hair...

Oh my dearest darlingest daughter: Friendships can be tough! I know this. I've been there. I've cried just like you.

(You have?) (Yes I have)

You want a Best Friend in all the World, right? Someone who is always there, who you can tell all your secrets to and always hang out with? Like those girls in the movies?

(Ahuh) (nodding) (tears dripping)

Well, here's what I've learned. There isn't "one person" who can be everything you need in a friend. That's too much pressure for one person to be there all the time. Sometimes as much as we want a Best friend in All the World, we won't ever find one. I've never found one.

(You haven't?) (No, I haven't)

I have lots of friends, whose company I enjoy. Some friends I hang out with and I enjoy their company and we have fun together. But I might not be able to share my secrets or go to them when I'm sad. Other friends I might not see for a while but I know if I'm ever in trouble I can call on them. There are different kinds of friendships. And they are all special and important.

(Oh, like you're friends with Gail and Meg and Karen and Linda and Justine and Sammy...) (Yes, not ONE BEST FRIEND, lots of special friends) (Oh and Maya who lives in England but you're still good friends...) (Yes, exactly!)

We don't hang out together every day, my friends and me. We have lots of different things to do and we have busy lives, but we are still friends. Do I have just one friend who I spend all my time with and we hang out together all.the.time???


See! So I know you wish you could have a Best Friend in all the World who you could go to each others houses and swap secrets and always be together...

(umhumh. Yes...)

But look at all the lovely friends you have! Lots and lots of lovely friends. Some you love to play with and have fun with. You admire them and enjoy their company. Others you know you can trust to tell your secrets to and that they will always stick by you, right?

(Yes. Ruby, Mariella, Sofia, Olivia, Lilly, Mackenzie, Yasmeen, Sienna...) (So many friends!) (laughs) (yeah, I know...)

We hugged, she stopped crying. I felt like a Good and Wise mother.
And it was nice to remind myself, that though it might be nice (in theory) to have Just One Friend who is your absolute bestie, those types of friendships seem rare and hard to find.

The "living in each other's pockets" type of friendship has never been on my radar no matter how hard I tried to find/make/create it, even as a kid.
In fact, sometimes by wanting that Best friend in all the World just a little too much, I might have made a friendship like that even harder to find.

Much better to tell myself that "different friends, different relationships" and enjoy all the wonderful and varied friendships my life is blessed with. Without the need to be exclusive Best Friends Forever.

What is your experience? Have you/did you have an exclusive best friend... or do you have many friends and not one BFF? (I'd love to hear your thoughts on it)

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