I have a lot of friends. I mean a lot. Seriously, I have way more than 10 friends, and everyone knows that when you get to “way more than 10,” we are talking big numbers here. Most of my closest friends are related to me. Does Sarah count as being related to me now that we’re married? It sounds weird if you say, “My wife and I are related,” so I’m going to say that she’s not, because she’s not related like that. My parents forced friendships between their children when we were younger, and although that was not lauded by any of us when we were younger and fighting a lot, I love that they did that now. My siblings are now four of my closest friends. You know who two of my very best friends are? My mom and dad. I love them. I like to talk to them on the phone, spend time at their house, go out to eat with them, or whatever. I just love being around my parents. They are my close friends, but they weren’t always.
When I was younger, I said something stupid to my mom. I don’t remember what it was, and you would think that I would, because it only happened that one time. She got pretty upset with me. I didn’t know what the problem was, though, because I didn’t say anything that I saw as rude. I defended myself by saying, “I talk to all of my friends that way.” She said, “I’m not your friend. I’m your mom. You show me more respect than you show your friends.” I remember where in the house I was when this happened. I know I was in seventh grade. I don’t know what started the conversation, but I will always remember the ending.
Some of you might think that my mom was mean for saying that to me. Shouldn’t she have been my mom and my friend? Well, I didn’t cry, and I was known for crying back then when my feelings were hurt, so I guess it didn’t hurt my feelings. It solidified in my mind how I was supposed to treat my parents differently and speak differently to them than I would one of my peers. They weren’t my peers. It taught me a valuable life lesson that stuck. So no, my mom wasn’t being mean, she was being my mom. She was parenting me. She chose to put me in my place and say the hard thing rather than be my buddy and make me happy.
I’m going to have to do the same thing. I will have to make the difficult decision over the next several years to be at odds with Jakob at various times, because I’m his parent, not his friend. He’ll know that I love him, that he can have fun with me, and that he can come to me – just as I knew that about my parents – but he will also know that he has to listen to me, respect me, and treat me differently than his peers. Someday, I hope that Jakob and I have the same relationship that I have with my parents. I hope that we are close friends, who can laugh about the strange things I did as his parent and the weird things he did as my son. I hope we can be as close as two people that are 27 1/2 years apart can be, but I think that’s going to take me being his parent first, not his friend.
On a side note, three of my best friends have birthdays today. So happy birthday to my sister, Lisa, my brother from another mother, Josh, and Amy, who I don’t have a cool nickname for.