Last night I had one of those conversations you never want to have about your own child. I was out with the moms of some of my oldest little girl’s friends. After a few had left, one of them told me she had to tell me something. Insert scary music here. Last Friday, on the bus ride home, my oldest little girl and a friend were horrible to another of their friends (her daughter). They were unkind and what they did could absolutely be considered bullying. My littlest little girl stepped in, stood up for the little girl, and allowed her to move over to her seat. The woman told me because our girls are friends. And because she knew I would want to know. Just as I would have done if the situation were reversed.
I was livid. And so so sad. And even more livid. We didn’t have our little girls this past weekend so I hadn’t heard anything about it. The first chance I’ll have to see my little girls is tonight when I pick them up from the bus. This morning, on his way to work, my husband stopped by daycare where our girls had already been dropped and were spending their time until the bus came. He spoke to our oldest little girl, who clearly didn’t realize what she’d done had been so mean and hurtful, and she was devastated and embarrassed.
As she should have been.
For as long as I can remember I’ve had girlfriends. I’m still in touch with my very first girlfriend who I met in kindergarten. In third grade I switched schools and found a little group of girlfriends with whom I was inseparable. When I changed schools again in seventh grade I found yet another group of girls that I adored. Some of them I’m still tight with today.
Friday night I was getting ready to leave for my monthly wine night. This month it was at my girlfriend Ess’ house on the other side of town. I was in sweats, didn’t particularly feel like driving so far, and knew I couldn’t indulge in the spread of food OR wine. I’m ¾ done with my weight loss adventure (30 lbs down!) and I really just want to get it over with. I’m doing my best not to cheat. At all. I knew I’d be sad sitting at a table with lovely treats and bottles upon bottles of red wine. But I had to go.
My girlfriends are a fascinating group of women. We’re mostly all mothers, mostly all work, but we come from different backgrounds, and our views of the world vary significantly. Some wine nights are full of stories and belly laughs that last all night. Others are more serious as we grapple with the real life struggles we all face. And others yet are a hodge podge of uproarious laughter, serious discussions about politics or the state of society, and listening to stories of struggle and pain. This past Friday was the latter.
I just wasn’t in the mood. I was tired, wanted to be drinking wine and munching on goodies, and I didn’t feel like I had anything good to add to the conversation. A bad combination. Part-way through the evening one of my girlfriends said that it’s crazy that she’s friends with me. On a normal day, during a normal wine night, this would have made for great conversation. On this particular evening, however, it felt like a dig (it wasn’t). I spent the remaining time wondering why. What was so wrong with me that it would be unfathomable that we could be friends. But then I realized THAT is the point. We are a group of women that, for all practical purposes, would not have met. Through circumstance, marriages, jobs, and our children, we’ve found each other and are a perfect mix of personalities.
Over the weekend I’ve been reflecting on my girlfriends. Women I could not live without. Women who would drop everything to come to my aid should I need it. Women who can talk me off the ledge, lift me up with I need a boost, and women with whom I can be the real me. Regardless of whether, depending on the day, it’s a great version of me or a subdued and pouting version of me. We stand up for each other, we have each other’s backs, and we are there to support each other through whatever any of us might face. I’m the luckiest girl in the world for a number of reasons but one of the biggest is that I can call these women my friends.
Today I’ve been thinking about how to talk with my oldest little girl when I pick her up tonight. She’s already been spoken to. She already feels bad. It wouldn’t do an ounce of good for me to lay into her and make her feel worse. So instead I’m going to tell her stories. Stories about my girlfriends and how they have saved my life over and over. Now…obviously…not literally. Although some of my college years are a little fuzzy…so it’s possible that Eh has literally saved my life but I can’t be sure. I’m going to tell her stories about funny things that we did, movies we loved and still quote today, and about how much fun we’ve had over the years. And that all of those fun times, the fact that I can call this remarkable group of women my friends, is because we stand up for each other. We aren’t cruel or unkind to each other, even when we disagree. We treat each other like fragile treasures because we know how important we are to each other’s sanity/existence/lives. I want my oldest little girl to go to sleep tonight understanding that I am the woman I am, the mother I am, the wife that I am, the daughter that I am, the community member that I am, because I have a wicked strong group of women standing behind me. I want her to understand that treating her friends with anything but care is completely unacceptable because she needs those girls. She needs them now, she’ll need them in a few years, and she’ll need them in high school.
If my little girl can grow up with a close-knit group of girlfriends that is even a quarter as good as mine she will be one step ahead of the rest. But it starts with understanding how important it is to cherish those friendships. And to nurture those friendships. So that they remain healthy and happy and strong.
TODAY: What if I show my little girls how important it is for them to have great relationships with girls by continuing to highlight the fabulous relationships I have with my girlfriends?