Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dear Libby...


Last weekend, my daughter and I had some special bonding time.  I chose to bring her along on a trip to stay with a good friend of mine and her two daughters.   Four hours of driving each way provided a wonderful opportunity to chat about a lot of things…some random, some funny and thankfully some quite poignant. 

As we hit the road, Libby began asking questions about our destination and hosts.

“So…how did you meet them?”

We met online…through Facebook and blogging.

“Hmmm.  How long have you guys been friends???”

Uh…hmmm…let’s see…maybe, like five or six months??  I’m not sure.  I do know that I talk to these ladies literally every day…I know them well.   And I trust them wholeheartedly.

“And…THIS…is the first time you’re going to meet them? “

You betcha. 


Yes…strange as it may seem, this would be our very first time meeting face to face.  So how do I explain the sudden and genuine friendship strong enough to pull me four hours from home, with trust enough to bring one of my children?  I know my initial answer was vague and didn’t likely scratch the surface of her curiosity.  “Let’s just enjoy our trip…have a great time…and you’ll see what I mean when we get there.”

Despite my lack of sufficient response, her questions certainly got me thinking.  I once again began inventorying every female relationship I’ve had over the years…familial, professional, academic…all the same struggle for me.   As I’ve said before, I find difficulty trusting women.  Could be mommy issues…could be bad experiences as a kid.  Who knows, really.  Truth is, it doesn’t matter what molded me.  I’m responsible for myself and how I relate with others…men OR women…today and going forward.  And my responsibility extends to my daughter.  I’M the one molding HER.  In ten years do I want her to have this same struggle?  Hell no.  Ensuring that doesn’t occur begins with my relationship with HER.  And IN that relationship I need her to know it’s important to be clear on what is expected of her and what SHE should expect of others in the context of a friendship.  I don’t know that anyone ever taught me these things.  There IS no “How to…” in relating to other girls or women for that matter…or if there is I’ve not stumbled upon it.  For me…trial and error, baby. 

From the moment we arrived, the smiles were abound and the chit-chat and laughter endless.  (That is, until about 2:00am when we realized…HA…we’re old, we need sleep.)  We talked about everything…you name it: Kids, parents, siblings, spouses, and friends…the good, bad and the ugly on friendships of the past AND present.    What have we found welcoming in friendships?  What is off-putting?  What is enjoyable?  What is downright exhausting?   As I sat there in great conversation with these women, feeling the positivity seeping from their words, the genuine desire to know more of each other, the lack of judgment or competition…I began to mentally draft a list of all things necessary in a true friendship.  I began to recall times when I did not provide these things to other friends of mine…and vice versa.  It became clear why some friendships failed and others flourished.  And I realized….THIS…this is what my daughter needs to know. 
So I wrote her a letter:


Elizabeth Rose,

I love you more than life itself and want nothing more than for you to be happy and healthy…in life, in love, and career.   You and I will always have a special bond and I would like to think that very thing will help BOTH of us get through this life with light and love.  Beyond our relationship you will also have connections with friends, other girls, women, ladies who you are sure to find steadfast, reliable and a critical part of your life as you grow old.  My hope is that you find a few great women to be those rocks for you and you for them over the years. 

Making and keeping those dear companions is not always an easy thing.  I’ve not always been as supportive or selfless as I could be.  I’ve allowed my inability to trust get in the way.  I’ve lost myself in friendships, watching my own interests, goals, and successes dissipate over time.  But I’ve learned much.  As I’ve aged I’ve determined there are a few simple yet necessary aspects to friendship that I believe will guide you toward longevity, “genuity”, and continued trust.

Reach out to your friends…see how they’re doing.  If you know they’re struggling or worrying about something in particular, be that one person who is always the first to ask.  Don’t worry about bugging them…if they don’t have time or feel like chatting, they’ll tell you.  But it will make them feel good knowing that you care.  Likewise, be quick to congratulate and help celebrate successes.

When you talk with your friends…engage.   Shut out the outside world and really listen.  We all know what it’s like to be in the middle of a conversation with someone who feigns active listening when they’re merely awaiting their opportunity to speak.   And expect the same in return.  If you’re a good friend to others and listen when they need a shoulder, it’s reasonable to expect to be able to do the same when you are in need. 

Know this…the amount of time you’ve known a friend does not determine the quality of the friendship.   You will find that over several years time you may grow apart from friends you once found dear.  You will encounter tough times in life that will truly test the elasticity and tenacity of your friendships.  THIS is where you learn what your girlfriends are made of.  You may find friends that unexpectedly come into your life with whom you form an instant and unbreakable bond.   In the face of adversity it truly does not take long to determine who is a true friend and who is not.   When you find them, hold those girls near and nourish those relationships.

ALWAYS remember to check your competitive nature at the door.  I love that you enjoy a challenge and that you don’t hesitate to step up to the table.  But your game face is for basketball or academic competitions or a card game for that matter.  NOT when you’re relating to your girlfriends.   If a friend is sharing a struggle or a victory, don’t turn it into a match.  Just. Be. There.  Be happy when things are going well and empathize when things are not.   Vice versa, do not allow friends to make you feel bad for being smart, or doing well on a test.  Nor should you feel as though you’re not measuring up to THEIR performance in any given event.  It doesn’t matter whose clothes are trendier, who has the better cell phone, who has more friends on Facebook, who gets married first, who has children, who chooses to breastfeed verses bottle feed…just know the competition will NEVER end if you allow it within your friendship.  You are you, and that is all you should ever be.  And that…is wonderful. 

And finally, and most importantly, know when to say when.  You’ll find that over time, your convictions will draw you closer and further from other women.  Don’t change those beliefs for the sake of salvaging an old friendship or creating a new one for that matter.  Know who you are.  Know what you believe in.  If a friendship, cannot withstand the test of differing values don’t compromise yourself, but know when to respectfully walk away.  Know what you deserve.  If you’re not treated respectfully, be honest about it.  Likewise, when you know you’ve wronged a friend, apologize.  Genuinely.   Be supportive of your girlfriends but understand the difference between empathizing and enabling.  There are toxic relationships out there that are good for neither involved.  It’s important to make friends a priority but never compromise your safety or sanity.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means.  As I said, I’m still learning how to build a successful friendship…I’m a work in progress.   My hope is that this will at least provide the building blocks for you to create and maintain a lasting, healthy support system.  Boys will come and go…but your girlfriends will always be your rock.  Even in marriage, you will need your girls.  As an outlet, an escape, a laugh with someone who understands, a reality check from someone who gets you…someone who will always have your back.  And someday…if and when you have a daughter, you’ll be the best role model a girl could ask for.   In some ways you’ve been mine too. 

I love you, my Libby Lou…

Mom



***This one is for all of my true girlfriends…you know exactly who you are.  Some new, some not so new.  I would never have gotten where I am without you. There are days I’m positive I would land in the fetal position under my desk if not for your ability to make me laugh. I know for a fact I’ve not told you often enough, but I love you and am so very thankful.***



 

38 comments:

  1. This ....was beautifully written. I almost feel like I need to print it for my own daughter.

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  2. And...crying. I love you and this is simply amazing. Libby is so lucky to have you for a mother my friend. What a wonderful role model you are. xoxoxoxo

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    1. Thank you, sweet lady...and I so appreciate our friendship. You are amazing!

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  3. I want to be your friend. And your daughter. Which probably means I am one of those neurotic friends you're warning your daughter about. Still. Please! Gimme, gimme! I neeeed! I neeeed!

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    1. I'm all about neurotic...just trying to avoid the PSYchotic...haha. :-) So glad we're friends now!!

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  4. Oh I love this. I'm dealing with this right now and I'm struggling on whether to hold on or let go. But the way that you are putting it, I've already got my answer, it's just hard to do.
    What a beautiful letter of guidance to your daughter. Amazing.

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    1. It's SO not easy to let go of friendships, toxic or otherwise. I think we're so afraid of hurting someones feelings whether its the friend herself or friends you have in common. Go with your gut. :-)

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  5. Fantastic and heartfelt blog!! I've got 2 daughters and you've said what I'm hoping to impart to them. Thanks for those beautiful words!

    Teri
    Snarkfest

    http://snarkfestblog.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thank you so much for reading! I will be sure to check your blog out too! xoxo

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  6. Gorgeous. I will be sharing this with my darling girl as well. Libby is truly lucky. xo

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    1. Thank you, my fav glam girl! And thank you for being such a dear friend through these crazy interwebs. :-) Love you!

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  7. wow....THAT is what true friendship between women should be about. Not convenience, or even familiarity, but That which you just wrote.

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    1. It has taken me a LONG time and a lot of failed friendships to figure some of these things out. Still working on it...doesn't come easy for me. Love you, doll-face and am SO thankful that we're friends. You were the first to welcome me, ya know. I will never forget that! <3

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  8. You just put into words what so many of us struggle to express. You are one of the most wonderful, truly wonderful human beings I am fortunate enough to call my friend. I adore you..love you..and wish you all the happiness your heart can hold. xo

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    1. I love you too, sweetheart. You have been a great influence on me in the last few months and have helped me see how I can be a better friend to others...without even saying a word. Big hugs!! :-)

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  9. I'm in tears. You are truly a beautiful human being, inside and out. My heart connected with yours, immediately. That does not happen often, to me. I treasure you and truly cannot wait to put my arms around you and squeeze. Hard. This was eloquent and heartfelt. I will share it with my daughter.
    I love you to pieces. Xoxo

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    1. Thank you so much, my dear...you have no idea how much that means to me. SO so much. <3

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  10. Beautiful! I wish I could have read this many moons ago! I am 38 years young and honestly I have NO true friends that I can go to when I need to talk. I have met a few great women since starting my facebook site and it it those women who I turn to now. Sad as it is I like you made many mistakes with trust issues as well as bad decisions and let many friendships go. I also learned in a time of tragedy that I had only myself to depend on. My "good time" friends never showed up in my "bad time". Thank you for writing this. I hope to use it now and in the future. I have four daughters who could use it as well! Much love!
    Becca

    http://themadnessofmommyhood.blogspot.com/

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    1. Much love right back to you! Thank you for reading and identifying. Its kind of nice knowing that i'm not the only one who struggles with such things. Take care and I can't wait to check out your blog!

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  11. Hello - I am Tara's friend from YKIHAYHT, and am now following (I think I thought I was, but now it's for real:)! Thank you so much for the beautiful post. I am sharing, without a doubt today! Your friends are blessed to have you in their lives!!
    Susan
    www.solesearchingmamma.com

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    1. Thank you so much for reading AND for sharing! I love your page and your blog too...all great stuff!! From what I hear, your friends are pretty darn lucky too! xoxo

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  12. Hey sister...This is simply stunning. When we moved to AZ, I literally went almost 2 years without making a single friend here. I had my mom, my kids, my girlfriends from home and I thought I was fine. I ended up joining a moms group at church and in 6 months have 4 new friends I could call anytime, day or night. I realize now how important friendships are. xoxo

    Andrea
    twins happen

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    1. Thank you, sweetheart!! Its amazing how important friendships are...and we sometimes dont realize it until we're really in need. So glad you're surrounded by loving supportive ladies! :-)

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  13. Beautifully written and so important for your daughter to know. I wish someone had told me at her age that it was okay to step away from toxic relationships. You've empowered your daughter in so many ways with these words. I came over from YKIHAYHT and am a new follower. Can't wait to read more.
    ~Tina

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    1. Thank you, Tina! Its hard to walk away from friendships even when they're incredibly toxic and downright exhausting. I'm finally learning where to draw the line though. Thank you for reading!! :-)

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  14. Great post! I have quite a few friends from the internet world - wish I could meet them all!
    new follower - hope to get a follow back

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    1. Thank you, Pamela! It really is such a cool thing...meeting an entirely new world of girls who share so many things in common yet come from all walks of life. Its been very exciting!

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  15. Yep. That's a keeper. I also could have used this back in my school/college days! Beautiful post. :)

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    1. Thank you, Kristen! I could have used it too, God knows. SO many things I would have done differently if I had known then what i know now. I appreciate you reading!

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  16. Fantastic post! I love your letter so much, such perfect words to share with your daughter! I'm stopping by from the TGIF Blog Hop and am now a new follower:) Would love for you to stop by Crazy Mama Drama!
    http://crazy-mama-drama.blogspot.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crazy-Mama-Drama/259491484156846

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  17. This is absolutely eloquent. With all that I have been through I have found as much if not more love and support on these interwebs with this wonderful group of women than I have in real life. The love...and it's genuine...you can feel it somehow...it's just awe inspiring.

    Thank you for putting this into words.

    Lots of love from out East
    Xoxo
    ~M

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  18. Beautifully written. I have always had a difficult time trusting people, especially other women. Mainly, because I have been hurt so many times in the past. But I will say, that in the last few months, I have gotten more support and honest caring from my blogging pals than I have gotten from people who I have known for years, including family. I am sometimes astonished at the amount of honesty and truth that I have received from women that I have only known a short time. It is so true, friendship has nothing to do with a time-frame, and I feel so blessed to have met you and many others through this wonderful world of blogging.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

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  19. I'm sitting here, drugged up on pain meds due to having a recent surgery, wiping away the tears...

    This weekend my best friend whom is a fellow blogger, I was introduced to her from another blogging momma that I attend a retreat with each year in Orlando...she and 2 of her children drove 6 hours to come "take care of me and love on me"...

    I'm in the process of slowly letting go of an 18 yr friendship...she was my BFF and we did many things together...I even nursed her newborn when she was in a comma for 4 weeks and so much more. However, it's changed. It's broken my heart.

    And at the same time...S* has came into my life and completely changed it.

    What a blessing these friendships are.

    What a blessing this post was for me...I've read it a few times over the last few days. Getting up the courage to reply back.

    I hope you don't mind if I share it on my blog.

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  20. Thank you so much for these beautiful words. If I may I'm sharing this post with my daughter and grand-daughter, because it says so much of the right things about friendship.

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  21. That was truly inspiring. I've never been one to have a lot of friends, just a handful of close ones. Those I am close with know and appreciate the REAL me and there's no faking or competition between us, just love for my amazing women. No matter how long its been since we talked, we pick right up where we last left off, like no time has passed. I even met one through fb (she's a local dj) and we hit it off from the first time we met, like we'd known each other for years!

    Now, however, we're having to stay in touch in non-physical ways. I grew up in California, but moved last Dec, with my fiance, to central Nebraska. It was really hard to leave my family and friends for the first time, but I was fortunate to become close with a few women I worked with while we lived there. Recently, we moved further east and, again, I find myself in the position of not having any friends around here. To top it off, I'm 7 months pregnant with our son, but having to go through my pregnancy alone, physically at least (fiance is a trucker so he's got for 1-2 weeks at a time). I'm going home next week for my shower and a visit and know that it's going to break my heart to leave there again, but I'm so looking forward to getting to see my family, closest friends, and my dog!

    I found a job recently and the gals there are sweet, I just hope I end up clicking with someone so I don't feel so alone. I know this comment doesn't totally pertain to your posting, but I just needed an outlet. Thank you for letting me go on and on.

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  22. Wow. This is truly a great post. I love how you are dedicating so much thought to teaching your daughter about friendship. I completely agree with you about the fact that it isn't really important how long you've known someone. Some of my closest friends are my newer friends, because they are the people that I click with based on where I'm at right NOW in my life, and they reflect the person I've become. I think we all grow in and out of friends and that's okay. Finding good girlfriends and maintaining healthy friendships is so hard, so important, and so very underrated. Everyone talks about finding a soulmate, but people don't talk as much about the importance of finding true BFFs. I really enjoyed this thoughtful and honest post. :)
    Laura

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  23. Loved this. So utterly relatable. Thank you!

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  24. LOVE this - and perfect for a Mom to say to her daughter at any time of life. Wish mine had before she passed. Thank you so much for sharing. Libby is a lucky girl!
    Joining from the Friday Blog Hop - http://allthoseartsygirls.blogspot.com/

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