Yesterday my beautiful daughter asked me if we were friends. “Mothers and daughters are supposed to be best friends,” she said. I know she didn’t like my answer – no. It was so hard to put into words in that moment of her asking.
Of course friendships are important and form the fabric of our lives from an early age. But being a mother? That’s a dream that was fulfilled. It’s something so much bigger than friendship. I guess I’ve bought into the theory that the role of a parent is not to be your child’s best friend but to nurture, guide and love them unconditionally.
Friendships don’t always have the unconditionally clause built in. Friendships come and go, they can fade, they can be rekindled. Sometimes they play an important role in a particular stage of life and then they become a memory.
How do I explain to you my daughter how much your arrival meant to me. Although I love your three older brothers with all my heart too, I had become afraid to even entertain the thought during my pregnancy with you that you might be a girl. When you were born I told the doctor don’t be kidding around, don’t say she’s a girl if she’s not.
I had such big dreams and plans and ideas about what it would be like to have a daughter…matching outfits, hair ribbons, Barbies, pink, tea parties, and later shopping, trips together and the day you would marry. How short-sighted and naïve of that 29-year-old me! Being your mom is so much more than all of that. I remember how you put your first Barbie on the floor and ran it over with a truck –I think that was the moment I knew we were in for a very different ride. A ride I embraced and enjoyed and am so grateful for. You taught me to look beyond stereo-types and expectations; you have demonstrated such courage and determination from singing in front of your entire school when you were around 10 to setting your sights on U of T and successfully achieving the high standards you set for yourself.
Are we friends? Hmmm. I’m guarded with some of my friends not letting them see the whole of me, trying to hide those aspects they might not approve of. And while I try to be the best version of me for you, dear daughter, you’ve seen my ugliness; you’ve seen my truth because there is a safety between mothers and daughters that extends beyond friendships.
You inspire me the way no friend ever has. When something great happens I want to share it with you, when something bad happens I know you’ll be there for me too. I know you will be truthful when I ask it of you and also prepare myself for how brutally honest you might be as well. (You are your father’s daughter too lol.)
I still don’t know if I’m accurately putting my thoughts into words but I can tell you that to define our relationship as a friendship would be to make it so much smaller than it is. I have only one daughter, only one you. You keep me on my toes; my heart belongs to you and your brothers. To be your mother is such an honour.
I reflect on Nana. She defined for me the power of a mother’s love, that soft place to land when the world closes in. Unwavering, supportive, ever-present, unconditional – love. I can’t imagine my life without my mother and I can’t imagine my life without my daughter. It’s tradition, it’s the circle of life, and it’s my heartbeat.
Dear daughter, to put you in the category of friend would somehow devalue how I feel about you. You see, we share all the qualities of friendship, even best-friendship, but our connection runs so much deeper and means so much more to me, I cannot confine it to just that definition.
“Genevieve, I love you stupendous, tremendous, bluebendous & forever.”