Daughter + Friend (Embracing Today)

When my friend and I were texting about meeting for coffee, months ago in Arkansas, she warned me that she may want to pray together in our booth and maybe even sing some hymns. I said there was no way she could make me break into spiritual songs in a public place and she called me a “brat” --and a wave of warmth and affection swept over me.

Because only people that really know me know that I can be kind of a brat sometimes.  And only people that really love me would ever tease me about it.

It felt like a laughing hug in my soul.

And when we sat on picnic blankets outside of church, talking about our favorite songs, and I racked my brain for the perfect song and a different girlfriend asked knowingly if I was trying to think of something weird and different (which I was), we giggled and I felt the comforting roots of relationship wrap snuggly around me.

Or when another friend knew to be mindful of how and when she knocked on my door because I get afraid of strangers showing up at my house and would probably hide instead of answering the door…

It’s the “knowing” and the “being known” of love that binds people together.  It’s in the vulnerability and maturity of a developing relationship that real intimacy begins to happen.

Which is why I was so surprised when my four year old daughter said it.

When we were sitting in our new Seattle kitchen, me wiping off counters and her coloring dinosaurs while we listened to “her” station on Pandora after breakfast.  The song on the radio was about a train, and the melody was sweet and whimsical and the girl sang the sound of the whistle and strummed the “chug chug” on her guitar.

“I like this one best,” I said with my back turned while I scrubbed oatmeal off the stovetop.
“I know,” she said.
“You do?” I glanced back.
“Yeah. This is the kind of songs you like. Ones that go like Oooooooo, ooooo.” 
She sang the whistle part super high and off-key, not even looking up from the Pteranadon she was coloring.

I was facing her completely now, dripping rag in hand. She was right. I do like songs that do that.
 “You… know that about me?”

And she laughed at me, because I guess it seemed like a silly thing to be surprised about, but I kissed her hard on her squishy cheek and said honestly, “Thanks for paying attention to stuff like that.”

It surprised me because….well, because I forget about her sometimes. 

I rush through the folding of laundry and hanging of shelves and DMV lines and grocery lists. I wipe her face and braid her hair and teach her phonics. We share meals and chase chickens and sing loud in the car to the CD we both love and she knows all the words to grown-up songs about life and love.

I spend more time with her than any other person in the world.

This little four year old girl.

And so she sees me.  She sees all the waves of emotion that we stay-at-home-moms experience in these days- these little years that are such a spicy cocktail of duty and delight. The ups and downs that I balance into normalcy for everyone else…she gets the raw reaction parts of me that are real and unregulated.

This little four year old person. She sees the real me.

I think I just forget about the growing woman inside of her.  The gentle, fierce, knowing,watching woman in her that is learning how to live.  Learning how to be herself and how to be a friend to someone else. Practicing on me and simultaneously picking up her cues from me.

Its worth taking a big, deep breath about and softening the creases on my forehead.  Because I’m hungry for purpose and relationship these days, but I’m not alone.

I mean, I’m literally never alone.  She even wants to shower with me these days.

We are both women under one roof, one a little younger than the other, that are learning how to live our best lives and be our best selves for someone else. And even though we aren’t necessarily partners, I am her mother more than her girlfriend, we are still together in this.  Every day, every hour: together.

Pulling up the roots of my life and friendships in Arkansas was hard and sad and I long for roots here in this new Seattle life, but there’s always something to be thankful for.  There’s always something to embrace.

So I’m thankful for the relationships that I do have right now, which right now is mainly my friendship with my daughter. I’ve heard wise women say that if I want to be friends with her later in life, I need to be friends with her now.

Maybe some day soon I’ll be sipping coffee with a grown-up friend who isn’t afraid to call me out when I’m being a brat and know my quirks and can laugh at my phobias.  And we’ll talk about life and whisper about how long it’s been since we shaved our legs and roll our eyes about the things that exhaust us. But for now, I’m sipping invisible tea in tiny plastic cups at a restaurant called The Pet Giraffe located conveniently under my daughter’s bunk bed.  We’ll talk about silly things, like what our dog Banjo would say if he could talk, or how it would feel to be a gecko climbing walls with our sticky hands.

And as precious as it sounds, it’s not easy for me. To just sit and play and be.  It’s honestly hard to let go of everything else and just connect with her when there’s so much else that I want to be doing and thinking and feeling on a grown-up level. But these hard days will pass and the woman inside of her is a permanent fixture in the rest of my life.

The best and hardest part of being a good friend is the part where you love them better than yourself. Where you set your own interests aside for their sake and eventually reap the harvest of that kind of love- the fruits of a rich and intimate, selfless friendship.

So I’ll get a refill on that tiny cup of tea and maybe we’ll even put real water in the tea cup because one day, when I’m older and grayer and sipping real tea with a real friend, she’s the one I’ll want to see sitting across from me.  

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  1. Sweetheart, this story hugged MY soul! It embodies motherhood and some type of "fusion love" with your child. I praise God for the "friendship" I have with my daughter.

    You and your little prodigy will giggle one day when you verbally realize that you are indeed friends for life!

    My cup runneth over! Miss Alicia

    1. Oh Miss Alicia, you are like another sweet mother in my life. :) Thankful for you now and for the mothering that you invested into Sarah -that's blessed me for years!

  2. Hi :) wow that post was beautiful...well done :)

    1. Thank you, as always, sweet Charmaine! I just read your most recent post and am just speechless (but who's ever really speechless, right? haha) about how much they are in harmony. Thank you! XOXO

  3. Oh, Britney, I'm right there with you. I just wish I was really right there with you! I burst into tears during church yesterday as the choir sang, "You know that I'm searching for something and I know that You've got what I need." Searching, just searching...for something. Praying for you and your deep roots there and friends for you and your tiny friend. I desperately miss you both!

    1. Girl. If you only knew. As much as I was thankful for your friendship in Arkansas, I'm even MORE thankful for it now that it's "gone." What a blessing it was to just sit down in front of someone and say exactly what was on my heart and have someone immediately nod and get it and feel the same thing. I'm so searching for something... just something... these days, too. I feel like it wont necessarily be girlfriends that give me my roots here... I'm still working out what that "thing" will be and how to chase after it, but I'm certainly churning inside :) Miss you.

  4. I've always been skeptical of people saying they want to be "friends" with their children because so often it seems like an excuse not to discipline and get their children to "like" them. I've never thought about it in the way you're describing, which is different and really, really lovely.

    I'm in the middle of a book by a woman named Brene Brown who speaks of exactly what you do in terms of vulnerability in relationships. The TED talk which turned me onto her is here: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html ...well worth a watch.

    PS Longtime lurker, first-time poster (I think!) Love reading your blog.

    1. Okay, I laughed out loud at "longtime lurker"! Glad you are speaking up :) Do you blog, too? I'd love to connect!
      I've heard of Brene Brown! I'm not sure where or when but its definitely familiar and I'll have to watch that TED talk very soon.
      And, yes, I've been skeptical of myself in the desire for friendship with Annika. I have gone back and forth on my perspective but I feel like I'm settling into this strong desire for relationship with her. I want to parent and train and discipline her, definitely. God has entrusted her to me for all that. But I always come back to this longing to KNOW her intimately and be known by her. And isn't that the heart of our Heavenly Father?
      Thanks again for your comment!

    2. Well, I'm a longtime lurker but not a diligent one, apparently! I think it's so admirable to want to know this little soul you've been entrusted with -- that makes perfect sense to me. And from what little I can tell you're doing such a great job -- she seems so very much her own person. I love reading what you have to say about parenting; I think it's very insightful, gentle and non-judgmental.

      I don't have a blog but I follow you on instagram! i can't even remember how I came across you but I love your pics and words. My handle there is delsannio.

  5. Aw Britney this post rings with so much wisdom. Especially the part about just playing and being with her. It is hard and is such a good reminder that what we put in will be what we reap in relationship in the future. I've been thinking about you guys a lot! I pray you find your place there. You will! Leah and I so miss you two!

    1. You do all of this so well, Les. Leah is blessed to have you as mama and friend! I miss you both lots and lots and lots :)

  6. Ah, she's still so close to heaven, the scent of Jesus still surrounds her.


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