Dear Second Mom,
Today, your daughter (and my best friend) turns 29, which means I've been a part of your life and a permanent fixture in your family for 22 years. I have so many things to say to you, Mom, so put on your mu-mu and house shoes (I don't even think you wear those), grab a cup of tea, sit in your leather chair with your cute Cocker Spaniel draped over your lap, and listen to what I have to tell you. Please. And thank you. #Manners.
First of all, it's a good thing you sent my best friend to the first day of second grade, wearing stirrup leggings and a brightly colored knit sweater with Nala from The Lion King on the front. Otherwise, I probably would have missed how bold and fearless she is. Actually that's a lie; I would have found that out regardless. But even back then, we were both loud with laughter and quick with silliness. It just made sense for us to be friends.
Second of all, I need you to know that your home was often a sanctuary for me. You see, I'm an only child and my parents divorced when I was two. In the midst of shuffling back and forth between my parents' houses, it was always a nice break to spend time at yours. I never felt lonely in your home. I felt a part of, included, welcome. Also, your kitchen pantry. Well, it was heaven.
Mom, there comes a point in every childhood friendship, where, once a friendship of coincidence becomes one of choice, one of consciousness, one of love. It's a subtle shift from needing a partner for Chinese Jump Rope and Tic Tac Toe, to needing an Interior Designer, a Life Coach, a Therapist, a Makeup Artist, a Stylist, a confidant and a safe place to land when life feels like an absolute shit show. I wouldn't have that in your daughter, if it hadn't been for you.
Second Mom, I want you to know I am profoundly grateful for you for raising my best friend; for taking risks as a parent so she could find her own way, which in turn helped, no, pushed me to find mine. (Sometimes finding our way meant awkwardly performing in talent shows, staying out until 3am, doing crazy-goofy things with crazy-goofy people, taking road trips by ourselves...this list goes on so long, it's embarrassing.) All this to say, you taught us to trust ourselves as young women. You've taught me some of the same lessons my own mother has, but I've been less stubborn in listening to them. Thank you.
My best friend, well, she's a light in my life. A safety net. A huge source of support and inspiration. She empowers me-- she makes me feel like I can do anything. She doesn't let me give up and walk away from stuff. I mean, how the hell else could we still be friends after 22 years?! She's all about loyalty and truth-telling. She's pays close attention when I'm speaking to her. She hears the stuff I refuse to say out loud. Mom, you've raised someone that I trust with my whole life. She's my emergency contact, not because my own Mom wouldn't be a good one, it's just that if I accidentally wandered off and got lost in a foreign country, with no access to a phone or yoga pants, she'd know where to look for me.
Anyway, consider this letter a note home. A phone call in the middle of a school day. An essay written in the comment box on a report card, telling you just how wonderful it is to have your daughter in the world. I have so much respect for you because it takes a special kind of woman to foster the kind of independence, respect, kindness and love that my best friend shows in the world--but you've made it look easy. Thank you for giving me my best friend.
The Extra Daughter You Never Signed Up For