Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Mom-As-Best-Friend Dilemma

I know many women, and men, whose mom and/or dad are their best friend. It’s great to see the closeness – going out on weekends together, talking every day, constantly at one another’s houses – if that is what’s healthiest and best for that relationship. Maybe these friendships budded in adulthood or maybe they’ve been there since childhood.
                However, I’ve always needed my mother to be just that – my mother. She is the only person in my life who can be that for me and I desperately needed her to fill those shoes. I’ve had best friends throughout my life (even if some of them were imaginary) so, I had that covered. What I needed more than anything was a mother. And this didn’t mean perfection. I didn’t need a 1950’s housewife, everything-is-wonderful-no-matter-what mother. Just someone there to set up a foundation of trust and security.
                I want to remind myself of this desire and need as Droidlet gets older. That what he needs me to be (whether he knows it or not) is his mama. Someone who sets up that foundation of trust and security; a stable foundation that he can jump from and explore, on his own or with guidance. One of the greatest gifts I can give him is a stable, safe environment from which to catapult into the world – a place he knows he can come back to but allows him the freedom of exploration and experience. The only way I can offer up an environment like this is by being his mama; by doing the not-so-fun aspects of parenting, such as discipline, right along with the wonderful aspects of parenting. Hopefully, this means he will come to respect me and know he can come to me for advice. I want to be affectionate and playful, show him ranges of emotion, but I never want him to feel like he is responsible for me, that he has to take care of me, or that he has to worry about what I’m doing with my life.
                Now, this doesn’t mean that I’m not going to cuddle Droidlet, or play board games, or build forts, or run around like imaginary animals or have all of the other, wonderful, creative experiences with my son. I mean, where else am I going to put all this crazy love I have for him? It also doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore what he, as an individual, needs from me. If he turns out to be the kind of kid that needs a kick in the butt, I’ll be doing the butt-kicking; if he turns out to be the kind of kid who needs lots of emotional support and a shoulder to cry on, I’ll be there. I’m going to be his number one supporter of whatever he chooses in his life. Motherhood, like most things in life, seems to fall on a spectrum. I’d like to be somewhere between the complete-hard-ass-no-emotion-showing mama and the I-just-wanna-be-your-friend-do-whatever-you-want mama.
                 I’m not delusional. I know I’m not going to be perfect. I’m going to be far from perfect. I’m going to slip up and make mistakes. But I’ll learn from the mistakes and try again (another great lesson for Droidlet). Then, maybe in adulthood, we can share a few beers over dinner and while we reminisce about awesome camping trips he can also tell me, “Mom, I hated it when you [fill in the blank with some sort of parenting wisdom awesomeness I hope I eventually have], but I’m so happy you did.”

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