Monday, December 03, 2012

bad mommy moments (or, thank heaven for little girls)

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Have you ever had a “bad mommy” moment?

I had one today.

I picked up my daughter at carpool. Normally she rides with another family to her 3 ½ hour Irish dance lesson on Monday. Since class was cancelled today due to a weekend competition, I decided to surprise her with takeout dinner and a trip to see the latest Bond movie. Sneaking off to the movies in the afternoon was a small mommy/daughter delight.

That part was good.

It was dark when we came out of the theater. We held hands and laughed as we walked to the car. On the way home we talked about our day. We called her dad, who was traveling, and they laughed together on the phone.

That part was good, too.

She told me about an upcoming field trip to see a holiday show. She is excited to be big enough and old enough to be a “front seat” rider in the carpool to the theater. She wondered who she would be riding with, and hoped it wouldn’t be with “the little kids” again.  She’s so good with the younger kids, but wishes someone else would get that responsibility for a change.

She started talking about school and who was friends with who. Two of her best friends at school happen to be boys. She seems to get along better with boys. Less drama, she says. Only, some other girls at school tease them, calling them “lovebirds”. Like girls and boys can’t be just friends. I told her that girls and boys can be great friends, and that a good friend of any gender is a special and wonderful thing.

Another good part.

Then she brought up a term that I abhor, one that you see everywhere on t-shirts and backpacks and slap bracelets and necklaces.


I get so tired of that phrase. Maybe because I don’t understand it. I’ve had girlfriends. I am friends with other women. I would do anything for them, and I know they would do the same.

But when I think of BFFs, I think of girls who spend every waking moment together, finish each other’s sentences, have each other’s back 24/7. Sorority sisters who stand up at each other’s weddings and take girls only trips every year. Other than a brief time during my junior year of high school, I’m not sure I ever experienced that kind of girl closeness. Maybe because I never looked for it. Or accepted it. Or offered it.

So when my daughter brought up that term, I guess I bristled.

I asked what she meant.

She explained that while some of her friends were boys, she had three girl BFFs. I asked who they were, and she named them proudly.

Now, each of the girls she named are great girls and are her friends. But I don’t see any of them having the kind of affection for her or the exclusive relationship that goes with a BFF designation. And I guess knowing my little girl wants something so badly that seems elusive and that I have no control over brings out the tiger mama in me.

Without stopping to think or filter or realize there was no need to be too serious about this, I stated my opinion bluntly.

“Baby, you don’t have any BFFs.”

Bad mommy moment.

If I could have sucked the words back out of the air, turned back time and unsaid them, waved a magic wand and made the previous 10 seconds disappear from history, I would have.

But I couldn’t.

I saw her face fall, felt the joy drain out of the car. As we pulled into the driveway, she quickly grabbed up all her stuff. I turned off the car and she reached for the keys to let herself into the house. I heard her sniffle as she ran to her bedroom.

Deflated and needing time to think, I let the dog outside to do her business while my daughter nursed her hurt feelings.

Why did I have to say that? Am I just projecting my own insecurities onto her? Does it matter what title my daughter gives her friends? Isn’t it enough that she has friends? More importantly, isn’t it wonderful that she knows how to be a friend to everyone she meets?

She greeted me as I came back into the house, her eyes rimmed in red. I apologized as she fell into my arms. I told her I had no right to say what I did, and that I was sorry I hurt her feelings. She smiled and gave me a big hug. She said she forgave me. And she told me she loved me.

My girl is going to be ok. Actually, better than ok – she is going to be great. Even though my mama’s heart will leap in front of her at the slightest threat, I know I don’t need to worry about her.

She knows how to love unconditionally. Yes, this will expose her to hurt and disappointment, but it will also open her up to the most amazing opportunities. She will always have friends because she knows how to love unconditionally. Anyone who lets her be their friend will have a friend for life. The extra special people who decide to return her affection will be doubly blessed - the luckiest darn BFFs ever.

Hopefully that will always include even bad mommies like me.  

(PS - This blog post is daughter approved :)

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