It’s a Tuesday night.
I just got home and I’m sprawled out on the couch with my phone pressed to my ear. My roommate walks in and hears my half of the conversation: rambling about my day at work, a list of outfit option for my date tomorrow, a brief debate about the latest happenings on Scandal. I tease a little, make a dirty joke, and then promise to text the link to a new song. I hang up and my roommate asks me who I was talking to; he starts guessing and rattling off the names of my college and high school friends. I stop him. I wasn’t talking to any of my friends who are around my age. I was talking to my mom.
My mom and I are friends. Like, actual hang-out-for-fun-and-not-out-of-obligation friends. We have inside jokes and we share clothes. We’re incredibly similar, and it feels like a gift to have someone who almost always “gets it.” We talk almost every day about the real stuff that’s happening in our lives. Some people think it’s odd, that we’re too close, that a mother should be a mother and nothing more. I can appreciate how our relationship is different from the norm, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it. My friendship with my mom has made me a better person.
My mom has always been her true self around me. So, I see her as a person, a fully-formed person with a history and an inner life and flaws and strengths. She was someone before she was my mom, and she does have other interests besides me. It’s made me a more empathetic person overall. Not only do I see my mom as a nuanced person, but our relationship has also taught me to see the nuances in everyone I meet. A mother is a woman and a human all at the same time, just like your barista is also a husband and your ex is also a writer and a chef.
My mom also taught me to really listen, to make an effort to understand people with all their complexity, and how to connect with others at a deep level. She always listened to and tried to understand and connected to me. And so not only did a friendship blossom out of that connection, but I also learned how to treat other people and how I should expect to be treated by others through her.
Mothers lay the foundation for future relationships. Your mother is the first person you interact with, and the first person you form a bond with. You learn how people treat each other and relate through your mother. Because my relationship with my mom is so strong, I have stronger relationships overall. I form especially deep and close friendships, ones that I value greatly. My friends often become my family, and I partially credit that to the fact that I’ve learned how family can be friends.
Of course, there are boundaries. Sometimes we need to wear our Mom and Daughter hats and throw the friend hats to the side. There are times when she simply takes care of things, and when I feel a need for more space. We respect these times, and we understand that our friendship is unique from all the other ones in our lives. But I am always grateful to be able to call my mom my friend.