3.30.2010

Friends

my favorite bulb

I used to have a friend who lived just a few blocks away. We wore the same size clothes, the same size shoes, had the same upholstery on our couches. We had the same taste in books, music and movies, we both knit and sewed. We were both stay at home moms with two children a piece. Several nights a week we would pool the contents of our refrigerators and pantries to make a big dinner for both of our families to share. We used to draw a bubble bath for our four children to splash around in while we sat on the bathroom floor, chit-chatting and drinking lemon drops. Our conversations ranged from lip gloss to politics, decorating to religion. I liked my friend a lot. She could make chocolate chip cookies without even looking at a recipe.

Then we had an unpleasant moment, as is prone to happen when two families share a lot of time together. Unfortunately, our children weren't a good match in the friend department. At first I avoided confrontation, but then a little issue became a bigger issue, and like a mama bear I came roaring out of my cave. She said, I said, her kid did this, my kid did that. It was ugly and sad, and in hindsight, avoidable. We tried to work it out, but our apologies became awkward. The words we exchanged hung in the air between us and we couldn't take them back. Not only did I lose my friend, I lost a lot of confidence as a mother. It took me months to pull myself back up and carry on. Years have gone by now, and I still miss my friend. I wish we could go back to those bubble-bath-lemon-drop evenings.

I emerged from the encounter a stronger mother and I learned a valuable lesson: Always, always stand up for your child. Even if it means confrontation and uncomfortable conversations. Even if your heart thumps out of your chest and your face turns as red as a radish. Even if you risk losing a friend. Even if you or your child end up being wrong (and chances are everyone is at least a little wrong). Standing up for your child seems like a no-brainer, but when facing another mama bear, your instinct might be to run for the hills. Don't run. Stay calm, stand up tall and defend your cub.

The other night, after my child came running home from a friend's house in hysterics, I had to have an uncomfortable, confrontational conversation with another mother. My heart pounded, my face turned red, and my voice wavered, but I stood up for my child. Afterwards, when my hands stopped shaking and my eye stopped twitching, I made chocolate chip cookies - without even looking at a recipe. We ate a few spoonfuls of cookie dough and felt much better.

My lost friend no longer lives in our neighborhood. She now has three kids instead of two. I haven't seen or talked to her in years, but I think of her often. I wonder if our confrontation changed her, I wonder if sometimes she misses me too, and most of all, I wonder if I had been more mature when we knew each other, if we could still be friends today. Regardless, I'm grateful for everything I learned from her, and in the long run, so are my cubs.

40 comments:

  1. what a lovely brave and honest writting Molly, full of wisdom, I am sure she feels the same about you too.

    Emma x

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  2. An eloquent example of why I consider you a mama bear friend of the first order.
    And think of what a friend you have in your babes, cuz they know mama's got their back.
    This makes me want to drive to the foothills and hug you. You soooooo inspire me and fortify me.

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  3. Oh Molly. I have so been there. I lost MY best friend in a very similar way three years ago and I miss her terribly. But you are so right, I learned so much from our time together, both the good and the bad. It is what it is. You know?
    And now... right this very moment, I'm trying to screw up my courage and deal with the neighbors.
    No one ever said it would be easy, right?
    Anyhow, hang in there and know that your wit and wisdom are so appreciated. You are one in a million

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  4. I have yet to face this dilemma, and I am so thankful for your words of wisdom. Thank you.

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  5. What a beautiful and honest post. I miss your friend, too after hearing your story! But you are right; your children need you to back them up. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  6. oh molly that was gut wrenchingly honest. the pain you felt has made you stronger...a better you....a better mother, i'm sure. thank you for having the courage to share your thoughts with us. i learn from you everytime i peak into your world.

    btw..what is the name of the flower in your picture? i saw those this weekend and i have an idea of what they are but want it confirmed! thanks again.

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  7. oh, I have had this happen to me. The neighbor still lives across the street. It is all we can do to simply wave to each other in passing. Strange. We had so much in common. But, like you, one day she stepped over her boundaries with my youngest. Told me what an awful child she was. And, that was that end of that friendship.

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  8. ughhh. love you, friend! i'm thankful for all we've been able to overcome. i have learned so much from you.

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  9. This is a really beautiful post full of such wisdom Molly.
    Thank you for standing up for your kids and for sharing this encouragement to so many!
    My mom always stood up for my brothers and I and to this day that is something I hold close to my heart, honored that she put her neck out for us and had respect for us as people.

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  10. Wow. I had no idea I was in such good company. This has happened to me too, and it really has saddened me. I felt that I tried to mend the friendship, but it didn't happen, and we have drifted. I still miss her, and wonder what I could have done differently.

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  11. such great advice molly. a few weeks ago i felt i didn't stand up for me and henry in a situation. while henry has moved on from it, i feel like it was my worst parenting moment ever. i went against my instincts when i shouldn't have. i am grateful for the learning experience though because i know it will never happen again.

    it's so hard to lose a friend, especially when they seem harder to make the older we get (i think). i hope your friend sees this post and maybe amends could be made.

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  12. I wish you weren't clear across the country.

    A good friend and I had what could have been a situation like that just last week. Our kids squabbled over nothing, but we all had to sit down and work through it. I am so grateful that my friend and I were both able to keep our cool. But I think that they key to your tale is instinct. Love you lady!

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  13. I had a similar experience and it sat in my memory like a little black troll. Ten years later I had the opportunity to make the first move to renew our acquaintance and I took it before I could think twice. I am glad that I did because, although our relationship will never be what it was, the little black troll who sat in my memory, reminding me of things that should not have been said, has gone forever.

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  14. So sad, but you're right, your children come first. My best "mommy" friend is moving away in 3 weeks and I'm so sad to see her go. Our children are exactly the same age and gender but don't always see eye to eye. Somehow in the three years we have known each other we have managed not to be judgemental or critical of either tthe childrens' behaviour or our each others parenting styles despite being very differnt. I will miss her.

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  15. It's rough when the perfect 'fit' friendship doesn't work out--but you are so right--protect your babes first. Your little ones are so lucky to have you as their mama bear!

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  16. I miss a lost friend, too.. our parting was painful and confusing for me, but I'm happy for the years we had, and what I learned from being her friend and in losing her. I often wonder how things are for her, she will always have a place in my heart... sigh.

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  17. you're one loving mama bear! relationships are so, so difficult. and finding our way through honesty, confrontation, and love makes us all grow into the people we were meant to be. your honesty looks so good on you!

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  18. People come in and and out of our lives each one bearing some experience that brings us closer to some piece of wisdom. I am sure your friend thinks of you and misses you.

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  19. thanks for sharing this. Words of wisdom for other mama's like me. I've made my mistakes too, and wish I'd been braver. I had an ugly confrontation with someone a few months ago, and wished I'd done it sooner. Wasted time, because now I don't even think about it. Again, thanks for sharing. love your blog.

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  20. Oh boy how comforting it is to not feel so alone in these situations. Your honesty and openness is a treasure. I too am amidst the *where do we go next-ness* with my beloved friend and neighbour over child disputes....difficult thing is my two year old boy is thickly in the wrong and being that he is indeed only TWO, does that make this Mama a bad Mama for his behaviour? I am standing firm with my boy, and firmer with our parenting choices while trying to hold strong to my friend...sometimes the holding gets heavy though. I'm sorry you have been through this but what a good Mama bear you are Molly.

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  21. oh molly, you don't even know how timely this post is for us. we're in the midst of something and just hoping we can do what's best without too much hurt.

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  22. I've been there too, but real friends can come back after years, like it has happened to me. Why not sending her the link of your blog? It's beautifully written. What could you loose?

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  23. You sum up the instinct to protect one's child perfectly. And the idea that each experience brings us to the place we stand today is so very true. If we don't take the time to learn about ourselves from our encounters - what kind of example are we setting for our kids? Nicely said Molly.

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  24. As I was reading this, I wasso soping that the story would end with you and and the other woman as friends again. Friendships involving children are so fickle. I have not had the occasion to stand up for my children yet, but you can believe that when it happens your words of wisdom will be flashing through my thoughts. thanks :)

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  25. bawling here! I love this so much. i have a similar story. do we all? and i feel in so many ways the same exact way you just so beautifully put. thank you.

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  26. Birth trumps friendship everyday in every way. You are growing new people and shouldn't have to be distracted b someone who should already be grown.

    I'm sad that you're sad, but your kiddos are your priority, and I'm so glad you recognize that. So many others, both parents and children, aren't so fortunate.

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  27. I have never commented here before but your post today has hit home. I love your chicken butts and busy bugs and chanin inspiration. And now I can relate to the mama bear protecting her cubs. I just experienced this a few months ago and it was very uncomfortable. I experienced the red face, shaky hands, and racing heart just as you did. Forty five minutes of confrontational back and forth --- and I am not confrontational. Seasons have passed and I feel just as you do --- that we are our child's best advocate and in standing up for them --- we are teaching a valuable lesson. Mothering has been the hardest but most important job while being the most magical adventure I could have ever embarked on. It's funny how when caring for those little ones we are forced to find our true selves, our inner compass and so much passion comes out to make sure they are safe and loved and true.

    Thank you for sharing your story -- it seems it was written straight from the heart. I value your words and stories you share here for all of us --

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  28. Goodness. What a brave and honest post. I too have had friends that got away because of things said and unsaid and it hurts. I have also had to have uncomfortable conversations related to my childrens' social lives and it is so hard, but sometimes I've been surprised with really positive outcomes. Anyway, beautifully written. Thanks!

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  29. I've had an experience like this, not too long ago. Just before we moved and my son's BFF was not allowed to say goodbye. No reason, nothing. So I did the best I could do and risked coming across pushy and rude by offering anything I could to make one last playdate happen or at least offer an explanation. It did end happily and I'm sorry for that, but I'm not sorry for doing all I could for my child.

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  30. Oh gosh, it's been a long time since I've been through anything like this, but it quickly brings back memories. I don't think I've ever lost a friend over it--but I can think of one time when I had to really put myself out there to defend my kid in a group situation. It was terrifying and embarrassing and painful--but I'm still glad I did it. If I hadn't stuck up for my kid, I think the residual anger would be much worse than the little, lingering yucky feelings I have about the whole situation.

    All the details of your shared friendship are so lovely. I hope you find another friend like that some day. In the meanwhile, I'll drink a lemon drop with you over the miles. Or, even better, let's crack a homebrew at the same time and gab via email. K?

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  31. You are spot on....I like to say play dates etc..are like dating! And sometimes it ends badly with a breakup! I have had several breakups...some good while others just happened naturally....

    Have a lovely evening. And go to the library and get that PBS doc on chickens! You'd love it--trust me! Karen

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  32. Doesn't being a grown up stink sometimes? I go through this with Evan and the kid up the street. The easy part is I don't really have anything in common nor do I like the parents, so that makes it easier when their little angel kicks Evan and says bad words when he doesn't get his way. Harsh, but it does make it easier to not like them...they probably don't like me either. Too bad we share a property line. Good thing our houses are FAR away!

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  33. this really hits home with me...I too had a confrontation with a good friend and unfortunately that was the end of that friendship. I think I'm still in mourning in some ways over the loss of the friendship. But I know it was something I needed to say and I'm stronger for it. thanks for sharing and helping me realize I'm not the only one who has lost friendships and that I'm stronger for it!

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  34. Wisdom is really about knowing what to bite your tongue about. So the defense of your child is not mixed up with all the perceived slights that usually would have been let go in a choose-your-battles way. That said, one friend is on hold right now because of her mercurial child. She just doesn't understand why we don't get together more . . . but her son does.

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  35. Christina HApril 02, 2010

    Thank you for your honesty. Though it's hard, it really makes all of us mama's feel a little less alone.

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  36. It was terrifying and embarrassing and painful--but I'm still glad I did it. If I hadn't stuck up for my kid, I think the residual anger would be much worse than the little, lingering yucky feelings I have about the whole situation.
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  37. I love this post Molly. Thank you so so much for sharing.

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  38. Right there with you...so important to be in their corner. I know I wished my mom had been in mine more often.

    :)

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  39. A great post that I think all of us can empathise with. The joy of that kind of friendship, the strength of Mama love and the saddness of losing someone we were that close to ..... thank you for seeing and pointing out the positives, something that it isn't always that easy to see! :D

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  40. Wow! This was beautiful and so timely for me. I have been struggling with just this same thing. Thank you for putting this out there to share with us.

    Anjeanette

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