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MOMentity: How to be a friend and a parent to your children
It's idealistic to think we can be best friends with our children. Hours after a conversation about friendship with my daughter that I realized I had lied to her. I can't be her best friend. But as her mom, here are 6 things I do promise her. - photo by Nicole Carpenter
As I finished scooping the last batch of cookies from the cookie sheet, my 10-year-old daughter rushed into the kitchen with the most excited look on her face. I love it when she seems so happy.

Guess who is my best friend? she quizzed me.

I dont know, who? I answered.

You, Mom! she said.

With a spatula in my left hand, I reached over and gave her a big side squeeze with my right hand.

You are my best friend too! I told her right away and kissed her forehead.

And it wasnt until hours later that I realized what I said was not the truth.

Maybe it was the hot batch of cookies that sparked her friendship declaration. Or because weve spent lots of recent summer nights binge-watching the first season of "Gilmore Girls" on Netflix. It might be because shes my only daughter in a house full of boys, and weve got to stick together.

I love her so much, and Im so close to her. But I realized I dont want to be her best friend and she cant be my best friend, even if Lorelai and Rory Gilmore make it seem so splendid. I want to be her mom. What is a word for a mom who is also a true friend but is really the mom? That is what I want to be. Just a "mom friend."

Not besties

I cant be her best friend because I expect her to get great grades and load the dishwasher. I dont let her have sleepovers, and I make her fold her laundry. I cant be her best friend because Ill ground her some day if she sneaks out, and Ill take away her future cellphone if she posts things she shouldnt. When she starts driving, Ill make her pay for her gasoline and probably even her car insurance. Those are not things a best friend does.

And she cant be my best friend either no matter how much fun it would be. My best friend knows my secrets and my insecurities. She knows the pains from my past and the fears in my future. These are not things my daughter is ready to know. These are not things I want my daughter to know. My daughter cannot be my confidante.

My daughter needs a best friend who can sit by her on the bus or have her back when rumors fly at recess. She needs a best friend who can giggle with her when the boys stop being gross and start being cute.

'Mom friend' promises

Its idealistic for us to think we can be best friends with our children. A true best-friend relationship with our kids would be unhealthy, but I can be a mom friend. As a mom friend, these are the things I promise:

  1. Your secrets are safe with me, except for the few Ill have to tell your dad, but he and I will keep them safe together. You can trust me.

  2. I will create time for you. You are important to me, and spending time with you is one of the best parts of my life.

  3. We will have dance parties mostly so I can remind you I am still fun.

  4. I will help you, but I wont do it for you. Youve got my support and encouragement always.

  5. You will know my expectations, and you wont always like them, but Ill hold you to them because its my way of helping you be the best you can be.

  6. Ill embarrass you. I wont always mean to, but I guarantee I will.

Last month, I drove my daughter and her two best friends from school to get some frozen yogurt. She sat away from me, on the other side of the store, laughing with her besties while they ate their fro-yo. I watched them from a distance and smiled.

And on the way home, I cranked up the volume when Taylor Swifts "Shake It Off" came on, and I started singing along. I glanced in the rear view mirror and to my surprise, the girls in the back seat did not sing with me. In fact, by the look on my daughters face, I realized I was just the crazy, embarrassing mom.

And that is exactly how I want it to be.
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