My oldest friend lives several states away and, if I’m lucky, I get to see her a few days a year when she comes up north for her family vacation at the lake where both our parents have houses (and where we met at age 13). In between visit we don’t talk much, since we both have two kids and full-time jobs and our own local communities to care for. So there are some things I'd like my long-distance best friend to know, since I don’t often get a chance to tell her in person, or even on the phone (did I mention we both have kids?).
While I have several very good friends, they each speak to a different part of me. My long-distance friend is the one who not only knows me so well, but knows my parents, and my brother, and everyone I have ever dated. Our friendship covers our life histories in ways that will always bond us, even if we go months without significant contact.
I think there is some truth to the phrase “out of sight, out of mind,” but in the case of the people who mean the most to you, I feel like “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is a more accurate notion. So with that in mind, here are some things every mom probably wants her long-distance best friend to know:
I rant and she gets it. Or I just send a “WTF” message and she comes back with the perfect response. Even when she’s hundreds of miles away, I know I'm not alone. I know she hears me, even when it’s radio silence for a while because #kids.
Even though she’s only spent a few hours here and there with my kids over the years, and as our vacations overlapped, I know my best friend knows my kids so well because she knows me so well. When you kind of grow up with someone, that person is tuned in to your own anxieties and fears and tendencies, all which show up in my kids in a variety of ways (both good and bad). She when my kids are acting like total brats, I know she’s not judging me.
I probably don’t have to say it, but I do want my bestie to realize that I’m not ignoring her texts or calls. I’m just parenting, which means I’m exhausted, and even though I have every intention of typing out a response to her message when I’m nursing my baby at 2:00 a.m. on the couch, my brain may have other plans.
Now that I’m a mom of a tween, smartphones are coveted items in our household. My partner and I have not allowed our 10-year-old daughter to have her own device, so she messages her friends from mine (and yes, that gives me permission to read all her texts). And that means I am constantly yelling: “Where is my phone?”
That definitely contributes to my delayed response time, to both my best friend and the rest of the world.
Even though this is never going to happen, I want my long distance best pal to know how much it comforts me when she naturally handles my parenting freak-outs. There are times, and I do not think I am unique in feeling this way, when I just want to escape my family. It’s when my kids declare, loudly, that they hate me for not allowing them more screen time. Or when they act like it’s the biggest deal ever that they have to brush their teeth before bed.
Motherhood has limits, and we don’t often admit that. Sometimes we have to walk away. I put myself in a time-out when I feel a scream (or worse) is about to erupt from my body in the direction of my children. And, yes, I do fantasize about running away to Hawaii with my best friend to a no-kids-allowed resort. I just love the idea of being with the person I can do totally nothing with, and it being OK.
If not Hawaii, then I’ll take her spare room. Or her basement. Or a sleeping bag on her living room floor. I am so grateful to have an out-of-town friend whose door is always open to me for whenever I need her.
I have many cards to send her… dating back a decade, when my first child was born. But she doesn’t take it personally. Even when all I can muster is a birthday cake emoji on her special day, she knows it’s not because I have no love. I just have no time, or a free hand.
And I swear I’ll do my best to get them to you for your little girl before she outgrows these hand-me-downs. (But we both know how unlikely that will be.)
Whenever my daughter breaks down in tears over some friend issue she’s having (par for the course for fifth graders), I remind her that friendships can be cyclical. Sometimes people feel like they’re your best friends, and sometimes they don’t. This will happen with many different friends, many times over.
But there will always be one or two who, over time, you realize are “your people.” At some point, you will be wise enough to know that it’s quality over quantity. Despite what social media tells us, it’s not how many friends you have that make you happy; it’s the depth and strength of your friendships that feed your soul.
So my only wish when it comes to my kids’ friends is that I hope they can find “their person,” like I have in my long-distance BFF.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.