Wouldn't you know it? Just as I expected, insight struck me when I just couldn't write. With five minutes left in swim class, parents started filtering in for the next session and that's when I heard it. The brash, uncaring, mocking voice of another mother. I found myself tempted to turn around and tell her, as rudely as she had spoken to her own children, to shut up. I had all sorts of profanity free insults to throw her way, but I kept my mouth closed. I hid behind my sunglasses, rolling my eyes at her extraordinarily unloving approach to parenting. I can't say beyond a shadow of a doubt that 'pool mom' really meant to be nasty to her children and my thoughts don't revolve around that mom in particular, but around all of us moms as a whole. The question I found myself asking as I watched the stream of parents trickle into the local pool was this, "You love your kids, but do you like them?"
You know how it is with your best friends, you choose to like them and look past their neurotic tendencies. You choose to accept them for whoever they are and stand by them regardless. What I don't understand is why more moms don't approach their kids with that same sense of acceptance and choose to 'like' being with the little people that are part them? I know the argument, 'you can't be friends with your kids.' I completely disagree. In fact, I argue that you MUST be friends with your kids. In the end they must understand that you will make the decisions to keep them safe and traveling the right path in life, but if you and your children don't have a genuine, mutual respect and caring for one another, beyond the required parent/child genetic love bond, they may turn to someone else later in life (as a friend) who will give them a lesson you may not want them taught.
I know I am not perfect. But I will strive, every day until I die, to have a bond with my children that demonstrates compassion, understanding, love, and genuine friendship. I was once told that I like my kids too much. I have never been able to comprehend that statement. How could I not like them? They are, alongside my mom and Granny (may she rest in peace), the best friends I can imagine. We do nearly everything together, we laugh together, we get frustrated together, we eat and shop together. We celebrate success and talk about how to be better next time. I tell them when they are champions and they tell me when I make a good meal. So when I hear the old saying, "I'm your mother, not your friend", I will cringe a little on the inside and repeat my alteration to that statement: "I am your mother and best friend you will ever know."