One of the best parts of childhood is blissful, selfish ignorance. Time and time again, now that I am a mother, I realize—often with a punch in the face—how hard certain things were for my parents, how they sacrificed, how they struggled to navigate parenthood and raise my sister and me into good human adults. As kids, all we think about is how every single day-to-day occurrence impacts us. Our parents are just random beings who float around us all day, bringing us things, wiping our butts, and drying our tears. Always there, and always unappreciated.
A recent development in my life has given me a new perspective and ripped away some of that childhood ignorance. One of the most vivid childhood memories I have to this day was occurred when I was 8 years old—my best friend moved away. She lived across the street on our happy little suburban cul-de-sac. Since we were babies, we played together daily. From learning to walk to My Little Ponies to riding bikes to Barbies, we were always together. We bickered like sisters and made up 12 minutes later. We had a secret language and a secret club (neither of which were secret at all).
I remember so clearly the day we said goodbye. I can see our parents standing around us, watching these two tiny heart-broken girls hug each other. They knew we didn’t quite understand. They knew we’d visit and all see each other again, but that from this day forward, everything was changing.
And up until recently, I had (like every other childhood memory) never thought of this event from any perspective other than mine. My best friend moved away. It was sad. I was devastated. And life went on, as it does for an 8-year old. What I never gave much thought to was how hard that day was for my mother. I didn’t realize how painful it was for her to say goodbye to her best friend—my friend’s mom.
I understand now, what that feeling must have been like. Because now I am a mother. And I realize the intrinsic value of mommy-friends. The unspeakable need for support and love when we are down in the trenches. I understand now, because here I am, 27 years later, and my daughter’s best friend is about to move away. A friend whose mother also happens to be one of mine.
She’s the first mom-friend I was truly able to be myself with, as I began my life as a SAHM. She’s the kind of friend you don’t have to clean your house for. Or shower for. Or stress about what food you’ll serve. She’s kind, and generous, and trustworthy. She’s the friend you know you’d call at 2 a.m. in an emergency. She’s the friend you put on your kid’s emergency contact list because you know she’d drop everything to be there. She’s the kind of friend who has great kids—kids your kids love. She’s the kind of friend who will let you bitch but listen kindly while you do it. She’s the friend every mom, every woman, needs.
As the date of their departure grows nearer, I think about my daughter a lot. I think about the day when we have to actually say goodbye. I think about the moment when the girls hug for the last time and I say it is time to go. I know now how strong my mother must have been, on that day 27 years ago, in order to comfort me. She was grieving, but I don’t remember seeing her sadness. And I know that I’ll have to be strong too. My daughter is five years old. She is comfortably living in her childlike, naive world. She only sees out of her own narrow viewpoint, which is exactly as it should be. It is my job to protect her, and to let her have this childhood memory as just that—her childhood memory. It will be my job on that day to hold her and comfort her and save my tears for later, as my mother did for me.
In 27 years, our daughters will understand, as I do now, that this is not an ending, but rather a beginning of a new chapter, a new journey. And 27 years from now, I hope they think fondly of their time together as little girls. I know I will. And I hope we are all still friends, feeding our grandbabies mediocre snacks and not cleaning our houses together.
We love you! Go rock this adventure!