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.
Posted by Molly at 12:05 PM