My daughter’s best friend is moving tomorrow. I’ve been sad since I heard the news back in January but for the past week I’ve been walking around with a familiar pit in my stomach. The kind of broken-hearted, pit of dread that makes it hard to eat and sleep.
The reaction, the pit, seems a little over-the-top to me. Yes, I love this little girl and yes she’s become a part of our family. I love her family and will miss her mother, a dear friend, horribly. But, I feel worse about this move than I did when my own lifelong best friend moved to Israel a few years ago. To me, that’s weird.
Some of it is that you always feel worse about things happening to your children than you do about things happening to you. I’d much rather have a pneumonia than have my children have a cold. Not just because I’m a selfless mom, but also because my kids are really whiny and annoying when they’re sick.
Some of it is that I don’t know how my daughter will respond. This could be an emotional dividing line in her life, or it could be a blip that blows over within a month (ha!). She does not deal well with emotion and I’m worried about how she’ll handle this.
I think some of it is also about my own friendships. Around the same time that these girls were becoming close, my best friend since the age of 5 moved across the world. My husband’s best friend since the age of 3, died. At the same time that this family decided to move we were contemplating a move of our own to New York. As much as we love Oak Park, my husband and I both realized that we’re lonely here. We do not have the type of sustaining friendships that we have in other places.
I know it’s projecting, but I worry about my daughter feeling the same way. Being alone is wonderful. Being lonely sucks.
Mainly though, what the pit in my stomach reminds me of is being broken up with. For me, the hardest part of breaking up was never the loss of the person himself, but the loss of the potential. The break up I took the worst was not even a break up. After a fantastic date, a guy never called me back. The relationship ended before it started, it ended when it and he were still perfect.
That potential is hard to get over losing.
It’s possible that these girls would not have grown up to be life long best friends. By this time next year they might have had a huge falling out, or started to drift in different directions. One of the things we moms of daughters so often forget is that grade school friendships are not a lifelong contract. It’s ok for girls to be good friends one year and barely acknowledge each other the next. It’s normal.
My daughter has plenty of friends she’s known since kindergarten or earlier and when she constructs the own story of her life one of these girls may be “my best friend since kindergarten.” This amazing blonde whirlwind may be a footnote in her life story.
Who knows, maybe there was some other girl I knew in grade school that at the time I liked more than Hillary (ok, that’s totally unlikely, Hill does and always has rocked!).
But in my mind, this girl was the one. This girl would grow up with my daughter and they would sustain each other through those difficult adolescent years. Sure, they would have fights and sometimes not get along. They might not always talk to each other or agree with each other.
But, they would know the joy that I’ve known of having a lifelong best friend, someone who knows you as well as you know yourself and loves you anyway. Someone you feel close to, even when they live a world away.
It’s the loss of that for my daughter that makes my stomach ache.