Last week was my birthday. Somehow I am not sure yet whether I love birthdays or I don’t.
On one side, I feel that it is my day. The world should revolve around me on my day, right? On the other side, I dislike the heightened emotion and the pressure on everyone around me for that day. Every year I repeat to myself that I am not going to define my relationships by the people who remember the day I was born. But yet, there I am on Facebook, reading my 192 notifications for my birthday wondering why so and so never reached out. Did she forget about me? Does she really love me or is it me expending all the energy on our friendship?
This year I went as far as to say that I was done taking new applications. I was no longer going to put myself out there because when you do and it isn’t reciprocated, you get crushed. So you can imagine how it felt, when I answered the phone at 9:30 AM on the morning of my birthday to: “Hello Wendy, I need to get something off of my chest. Do you know why we aren’t as close any more?”
What? I guess this wasn’t the happy birthday greeting I had anticipated. “We aren’t as close because I can’t be around you because of your son. Your son makes my son sad every day at school. He is always excluding him from the group and laughing at him behind his back.” So I ask you as a woman, a mother, and a friend, when you have someone telling you that your child basically isn’t a good person any more in a confrontational way, where do you go from there? How do you separate the mother of the cub from the woman who needs to be a friend?
In retrospect, I didn’t mind that someone is upset with my son. Our children are a work in progress. We are all here to make mistakes. What really matters is how these mistakes are handled. If he wasn’t being nice, than this was a great opportunity for me to be a loving teacher. What I was most saddened by was that my girlfriend didn’t know that it was my birthday. She didn’t ask me questions. She hadn’t shared with me, until her anger took over. We ended up straightening it out and becoming closer in the process.
I always say that friendship is defined by how the bumps are navigated, not how the fun is orchestrated. It took a few days to cool off and a great deal of communication and nonjudgment, but we did it. My mother’s advice on imperfect parenting is to remember how difficult it is when you see your child hurting. Your first response is to lash out and protect them. Remembering back, some of my greatest life lessons were learned when my mother didn’t jump in to protect me. Was I hurt in the process? Absolutely. However, I ended up much stronger and wiser as a result of my experience.
Don’t lash out, cool down and think it through. If you believe your child is in jeopardy then calmly ask questions and talk with the other parent about a good solution. If not, step away give helpful advice, and watch as the learning process unfolds and evolves.
For more mother’s advice, stories, and life tips, visit Wendy at www.lifewithwendy.com.