VALEDICTORY: expressing or containing a farewell

I’m not great at goodbyes.  I need time to process my feelings and even then tend to not express myself as warmly as I wish I could when the moment comes. This week, a friend announced she is moving. I postponed my heartfelt farewell because I was expecting to see her the next morning. Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow? I ended up missing my chance to say goodbye the next morning.

I’m surprised by the depth of the sadness I feel. I’ve only known this woman for five months, but she has had a lasting impact on my life. Early on, we arranged for our kids to have lunch together after preschool. As we were loading the kids into our cars, she realized that she had a dead battery from leaving the headlights on. She asked if I could help her jump her car. Then she said, “If you want to be friends with me, this is what it will be like. You might as well know that now.” That moment stuck with me. I love so many things about this lady, but that moment captures for me her authenticity, humility and grace under pressure.

In my mommy life, I often feel pressure to make a good impression. Most of the moms I meet are talented, educated and well traveled; they raise their kids with kindness, creativity and love. It’s easy to feel like I need to prove my worth. And, I don’t think I’m alone. Most of us feel we need to prove that we are good mothers, loving spouses, and desirable friends. But, if everyone is busy putting their best foot forward, it creates an unrealistic (and unattainable) image for others to try to match. It’s like magazines airbrushing thighs and love handles away and then presenting the image as a photograph. If all we show each other are the “woman of the year” moments and airbrush away the impatience, memory loss, boredom, doubts, and desperation we create an image that tortures our peers with feelings of inadequacy.

My friend stepped into my best-foot-forward mommy world, announced her imperfections and asked for friendship anyway. I was glad to give it.

Anyone looking for an uptight, unfashionable, geography-challenged friend who hates folding socks and lets her kids watch cartoons so she can drink her coffee while it’s hot? If you want to be friends with me, that’s what I’m like. You might as well know that now.


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