Tuesday, April 9, 2013

How my friendships make my daughter a better person

I have so many other posts I've been meaning to write (Easter is coming, I swear), but my daughter said something yesterday morning that made me want to write about friendships and specifically, how my friendships are going to make my daughter a better person.

As we were getting ready to leave the house yesterday, Riley asked my husband "where's Tom and Sam"? Tom and Sam are a couple of my husband's friends that periodically get together for a game night at our house. It used to be weekly, but has been sporadic lately so I shouldn't have been surprised that Riley would wonder where they were. And yet, I was surprised. Surprised that she pulled them up out of the blue. Surprised that she knows who they are and wondered enough to want to know where they were.

A few months ago my husband went out with Tom. Riley kept asking where her dad was and when I said he was with Tom she then wanted to know where. "Are they at Tom's house?" She clearly wanted to know more details. What does daddy do with his friends? Where do they go if they aren't here? So much curiosity about her dad, but also about what dad does with his friends and where they would go if they aren't at our house.  In essence, what do friends do together?

A few weeks ago I went away for a weekend with my friends. As I was explaining to Riley that I would be gone with my friends for a couple days she asked "what's their names"? She asked me this same question a couple other times when I talked again of being gone for the weekend and when I returned. You could tell that she really wanted to piece together an image of my friends and I regret that I did not pull out an actual picture to show her at that time.

Jesse usually gets to see his friends more than I do and Riley is probably aware of this. It's easier when the guys come to our house, but he still makes it a priority. I don't always feel that I do. My work hours keep me away longer than Jesse's so there is a fair amount of guilt when I do go out. I know it's important to get out and have friendships for my sanity, but when Riley asked about Tom and Sam yesterday morning I realized that it's important for so many more reasons.

My kid needs to know that I have meaningful relationships with other people. And it will help her to see me interact with people who are not family and yet are special to me. Every time she sees us interact with others she learns something about relationships and why they are important, and that close relationships are special.

She needs to know that mommy has friends too... not just daddy, but she needs to know that both of our friendships are important. She's incredibly impressionable now and copies so many of our actions (you should see how she talks to the cats) so teaching her these key skills (mostly by example) is important in how she treats others, but also herself. 

So yes, my ability to spend time with my friends can make me a better mom because I get 'me' time, but it also teaches my daughter that friendships are important... it teaches her about how to treat people you care for... it teaches her self-worth, because if we treat others well we tend to treat ourselves well. I have great friends, and while we don't get to see each other as often as I like, we do treat each other respectfully. We are there for each other in times of need and laugh with each other in times of joy. If I can impart this seemingly easy lesson to my child so that she has valuable relationships with others I will feel like I did a little something right.

And just last night I saw a little glimpse of this when we were playing with her cars, Mater and Lightening McQueen. She referred to them as best friends and I was able to see how she had them interact with each other... and it made me proud to see one car help the other followed by some simple hanging out time because that's what people in friendships do.

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