I’ve never had much luck sustaining female friendships. When I was a lot younger, I spent most of my time being uncomfortable around other girls. Most of that discomfort stemmed from the years of harsh bullying I experienced during grade school, the rest from general anxiety. I made a few meaningful connections along the way, but they seldom stood the test of attending four different high schools.
Despite all of that, I have always been envious of long-term close female friendships. I even got close to having one of my own a couple of times. But eventually, all those relationships fizzled for some reason or another.
As I approached my early and then late twenties, I lost hope that I’d ever find my bosom buddy. Until one day, after years of searching, I found a best friend in one of the most unlikely places — my mom.
During my teenage years, my mother and I were always in conflict. She wanted me to focus on my studies and stay out of trouble. But I was head over heels for a boy and more concerned with getting his attention than following the rules of the household.
During that time, we had a lot of heated discussions and said many words I wish I could take back. Eventually, prioritizing a teenage boy over my mother’s advice led to me getting into a fight and being kicked out of school. Despite the way it looked, my mom knew I had excellent grades and it was my first time getting in severe trouble at school. She advocated for me unwaveringly so I could get a court date and leave alternative school. Thankfully the judge agreed that my record was otherwise pristine and we made the tough decision for me to transfer districts.
That transfer indirectly led to me living with my aunt for my senior year of high school. The drive included tollways and was nearly an hour away. It was my first time going multiple days without being able to see my mom, and it felt strange. It was also the first time I had the chance to miss her.
When I left for college and started going weeks at a time without coming home, I missed her even more. Accepting that I’d probably never see my mother regularly again hurt. I can still remember the day I sat in my apartment crying about growing up and becoming independent. I went from calling her once a day to several times a day.
I knew I could always go to my mother for unbiased advice and constructive criticisms, so she started being my go-to person to run my ideas by. We’d been through the hard times, so it just made sense. The more we talked, the more I learned about her. She wasn’t as stern as I once believed, and she was adamant that my brother and I had to make our own mistakes in order to grow.
She was strong-willed and outspoken, like I was. I noticed that she was an excellent critical thinker. She wasn’t just my mom–she was a really funny person.
She keeps me grounded and encourages me to consider the alternatives in a situation. And I help keep her hip to pop culture references. (Okay, I’m lying–she’s better in tune with the references than I am.)
Our relationship hit a roadblock when I eloped after college graduation. Four months later, my new husband informed me he was going full-time military and I’d be further from my mom than ever. That decision led to a ripple effect — as our family grew, I felt like I was depriving my mom of a relationship with her grandchildren. We adjusted by taking turns flying between our duty station and my home state several times a year despite both of us being terrified of flying.
Over the years, both my mom and I have grown as people as our relationship has grown closer. I’ve considered my mom my best friend for about three years now. It’s hard since now we live 800 miles away from each other, but we make up for the distance by multiple texts and phone calls a day and video messages.
I have my own daughter now. And I wish my mom could see her more. But my main wish is that I have is that someday my relationship with my daughter has even a fraction of the depth of the relationship I have with my mom.
She’s everything I aspire to be in a woman and in a mother.
Even more, she’s my best friend.