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Happy Sunday! 

Do you ever feel like the mom friend? The one with sunscreen, band-aids, and a shoulder to cry on when someone needs it? This Mothers' Day, that's the closest sense I have to being a mother — and I'm totally okay with that.

Mothers' Day is basically surrounded by feelings; maybe you get along super great with your mom, maybe you and your mom are completely different people, maybe you're somewhere in between. 

For this issue of Sown, I wanted to get the perspective of friendship in adulthood — from a mother's perspective. My mom is off in the woods of Kentucky on a solo vacation with our dog this week (yes, really, and no, she doesn't have a smartphone), but I met Julie about a year ago through a penpal program of theSkimm, a daily news-newsletter. Turns out, we both had roots in Chicago and at the time, she was preparing to celebrate her 25th anniversary with her husband and her daughter's graduation with an international trip. Suddenly, I started seeing Facebook posts from her about holding vigil at a hospital. Rick, her longtime love, had suddenly passed away from an accident.

Since then, Julie has been sharing her thoughts on the grief process and life after Rick on a blog with her Facebook friends. I asked her if she'd be willing to reflect on how friendship as a mother has changed for her over the last year. I'll let her take it from here.

The greatest joy in life is friendship. I am blessed to have a large friendship tribe from my sorority in college, work, church, neighbors, and more that has my back, and my friends are especially important to me after losing my best friend Rick 10 months ago.

With Mother’s Day approaching it’s only appropriate to tell you about two friends in my life that are a constant — my very best friends, my children. Every parenting book will tell you that you should not be your child’s friend. But that doesn’t apply when they are adults, right? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

My children are both in their early 20s and having adult children is great. We can experience things on more of a peer level and as all three of us become more educated our discussions follow suit. Our humor and ability to laugh also seems to improve with age.    

I’ll start with my son, Erik. He calls me several times a day, and sometimes he's the only person I talk to on a given day. I’ve never been good at making phone calls — just ask my own mom. I don’t even call her very often. But Erik has stepped up as the man of the family and it really is nice to hear his voice every day, checking on me to be sure all is well. (Sometimes he is calling for money, but he doesn’t start the conversation with that!) He also comes home almost every weekend. I do realize it might be more about his friends and the fun things to do in Chicago, but still. Now that I am living alone it is so nice to have him and his friends around.

Erik and I share a love of shopping, football, and cooking — well, eating might be the real love. We have been having fun discovering new places to dine in Chicago. On St. Patrick’s Day we had a fun night dancing. I can thank his godmother for teaching him to dance. (”Just move your shoulders!”) Ever since that night I’ve been asking him when he is going to ask that cute nursing student for a date. Hey, sometimes we need a little help from our friends. 

My daughter Annika is not only my favorite travel companion, but our shared interests in sushi, 5K’s, sangria, pineapples, and Netflix means we always have something fun to do when we are together. When she joined the same sorority as me, our shared sisterhood gave us another opportunity to share something we both value.

Annika and I are both quiet and we have a common talent in communicating well in writing. I love getting letters from her and we share a journal that we pass back and forth. When we are together we really enjoy each other’s company, whether we are drinking Sangria in the south of Spain or watching This is Us and crying over our similar loss.

Our relationships with each other definitely changed with the death of their father. As I have relied on my children to help me make decisions regarding the details of Rick’s funeral and the sale of our home, my children have been thrust into adult conversations that normally occur later in life. It’s like I have shifted some of my husband’s “friend” duties to them. My closest friends are there for me in good times and in bad and my children are no exception. 

Having these two in my life is my greatest blessing. Over the past year I have dreaded certain holidays and I know Father’s Day will be bittersweet, particularly for Annika and Erik. But I am truly looking forward to this Mother’s Day grilling steaks and drinking sangria with my two best friends.

Go sow: Challenge for the week. 

"A daughter is just a little girl who could grow up to be your best friend." — Unknown

From Julie: tell your best friend what you appreciate about their friendship. Think about what you would say at that person's funeral and tell them. You never know when it will be someone’s last day.  
Write back and let me know how it goes! And add these to your friendship toolkit:
  • The Lily's tribute to their mothers and what they want to emulate from them: "My mom embraces change, and has never been afraid of those big, life-altering moments. She trusts that everything happens for a reason and acts bravely in each new phase of her life, one of her many traits I strive to emulate."
  • Also helpful: how to survive Mothers' Day with a toxic mother. "The day dedicated to worshipful love of moms was always hard for both of us; my mom felt belittled and hurt because I wouldn't lavish her with the praise and affection she thought all other mothers were receiving, and I felt cheapened and nauseated by the thought of a long afternoon spent pretending that my mother was my protector, my best friend, or any of the other crap it says in those cards."
  • Aaand potentially relevant: how parents cause childhood friendships to end. According to a recent study, "it's the negative characteristics of parents that are key in determining if and when these childhood friendships end."
  • In new TV reboots, the future of friendship is female: "Piggy (whose name has been updated from Miss Piggy) is the character's name in Muppet Babies, a show that's a cable hit among its target demographic of children ages two to five. Updating Piggy for the age of girl power presented something of a challenge."
  • Is the gym a good place to make friends? GQ's look at gyms' code of silence. 

Grow the Sow.

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