I met my best friend when I was 10 years old. She is loyal, inspiring, smart, beautiful, and kind. I was mean to her in the 5th grade. ME? The bully? But, in 6th grade when I found myself entering band and knowing no one (much less knowing how to play the awkward instrument my parents picked up at a yard sale) I spotted her. I clung to her, and we’ve been best friends ever since. I don’t remember being mean the year before, but she did. Her Mom was scared to let me come and play. I’m sure the conversation went something like, “That Meredith that was so mean to you last year?” Thank goodness she did. Because, now I have my lifelong friend that no matter how many miles separate us, I know I could still pick up the phone and call her to complain about my life. She gets me. Even 26 years later.
I was thinking about her and I this morning on my walk. I was thinking about her mom and my mom. About her household growing up and my household. They were drastically different. We walked to each other’s houses often, we rode bikes, and got snow cones, and had many crushes on many of the same boys. I still will never forget the first time we went on a drive together alone after she had gotten her driver’s license. We felt this freedom in a giant blue grandma car, and she burst into tears and had to pull off the road when she forgot to yield to oncoming traffic. Nothing happened of course, but there is something terrifying and exhilarating about that first ride of freedom. We were inseparable until college. So, I got to see a lot of her house, and she got to see a lot of mine. My childhood is so intertwined with hers she might as well have been a sister. From another mother. It feels like she is. I’m sure at my house, she liked the chaos in some way, the fighting and playing with more siblings around, I know she loved the endless supply of sugar in the form of Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies and Fudge, and she still seems to find it funny to this day when I tell her stories about my parents or siblings and all our crazy drama.
I found her house so calm. And quiet. There was no yelling (that I ever saw) and the atmosphere was totally different than mine was. Of course there were some similarities. But, I felt freedom at her house. There wasn’t as much conflict. I loved spending the night over there (despite the fact that her parents didn’t like the a/c that much and we had to use wet, cold washcloths to cool ourselves down). I don’t remember too many chores, and it seemed her Dad was always making us laugh. Her home was so much different than my home. Yet, we ended up being best friends. I mean, she dug up these pictures for me at the last minute….scanned them and emailed them. She’s the best.
I look at us now, and many miles separate us. Yet, we call each other up and talk about the difficulties of raising our children. We can not talk on the phone for months, but when we do, it is like she is sitting in my living room and we are 16 years old again. I can be negative. Or positive. I can be sarcastic….I can be myself. She understands who I am.
She is not mormon. But, she is a strong woman of faith. She has even defended my faith before. I admire her for her faith in God, and the way she is raising her family. I know she is a good Mom. I hope she admires some of those same attributes in me. I know that she is doing some things differently than me. I like to think that we are both good people, doing good things despite being raised very differently.
So, as I was walking and thinking this morning, I had this little conversation with myself:
Just like she was raised differently than you, you are raising YOUR children differently than her and many other moms you meet. Yet, you are still trying your best, and everything will be OK. You are not perfect. But, you are perfect for your family. (Yes, I do talk to myself often).
So, I was relating all of this thought process to my weaknesses of course. Because don’t we all tend to focus on what we want to change about ourselves most? I tend to beat myself up a little over the fact that I frequently fail at trying to overcome those weaknesses.
But, at the end of the day, I know my kids will grow up to be good people too. Despite my weaknesses, and insecurities.
Maybe my children’s best friend, or spouse, or college roommate will come along and they will discover that not everyone is the same. That some kids are actually raised with mothers that don’t yell. Some kids are raised by parents that don’t have anxiety. Some kids are raised by women that work outside the home, or have never worked a day in their life. Some kids are raised on TV and kool-aid while others are only allowed a sip of organic juice once a month. Maybe they too will find some sense of freedom at a friend’s house where no one is worrying about the mess. They will all of a sudden see the differences between the way I raise them, and the way someone else is doing it. But, that best friend, or spouse, or college roommate will still be special. Good. Important.
So, this is why I try hard not to be judgmental of how other people raise their kids. I try. I mean, we all judge in some form or another inwardly, but it’s important to me to try and stop doing that too. Because my way of raising my kids might be very different than how someone else would do it. My weaknesses, or personality traits, or insecurities might lead me to do things in a way that look wrong to someone else. But, my way is good because I am trying my best, and I’m the best for the job. And that someone else that will show my child that not all Moms have the hang ups that I do, will be a good mom also despite her hang ups or weaknesses. Because, in the end, we are all just trying to raise good people. The best way WE know how. And, I believe we will. My best friend and I are proof of being sisters from another mother, but both turning out pretty damn great.