I think most mom-and-daughter relationships are a complex thing, all mashed up with fierce love, old baggage, and an ever-changing world to navigate together. To be truthful, I was relieved that my first child was a son and not a daughter, because at 29 years old, I worried that I had not yet worked out my own issues enough to avoid projecting them onto a mini-me. But at 40 and by then an experienced mom of two sons, I was up for the challenge of a daughter, and one handily arrived.

Miss Ten and I were driving in the car after school a couple of days ago, and rather randomly she asked me, "Are you my friend?" I knew the answer, but had to pause a moment to think of the right way to deliver it to her.

", not exactly. We spend a lot of fun time together and like a lot of the same things and are very close, but I am your mom. That's a bigger thing than being a friend."

As I expected, she was disappointed by my answer. " aren't my friend?" she replied sadly.

I looked at her in the rearview mirror for a second. "Oh, sweetie, what I am trying to say is that I am your friend, but I have many more responsibilities to you and commitments than a friend could or should ever have. Let me try to explain."

She sighed a big preteen sigh, and I continued."Think of our lives as one long race, going forward in a straight line, OK? There's a start and and an end. I've been running along the race path for 40 years ahead of you, but we are connected by this invisible line that can't be broken, even though we are so far apart and sometimes you can't see what I'm doing or understand what I am doing. Your friends, though, run right alongside of you. They give you fun and support, but they can also fall behind or go forward or run alongside someone else."

"I'm confuzzled."

"OK. Let me try again. The bottom line is that you can have many friends over the course of your life, but they come and go. If you are lucky, you might have just a couple close ones you'll know all your life. That's just the way friendships go; they change over time, many times, for many reasons. But you have only one mom, and that never changes. No matter what, I will be there for you, even though I might seem far away at times. You might not always like some of the decisions I make regarding you, and you will be very upset with me at times. But I won't go away, even if you are mad at me. I will always be running the race with you, every single day, until I get to the end. I will try to do the best I can for you, and sometimes that means that I can't be your pal or your buddy. I have to be wiser and stronger, even if I don't want to be. And I can't expect for you to take on the adult responsibilities of being my friend, because that isn't fair or appropriate; it's too much to ask. There's a difference to our relationship that is just a lot more important than simple friendship, and I know that's a little hard to understand right now."

She sat in the backseat, quiet while the radio played. After a couple of minutes, she spoke again.

"Do you think we will always be able to have fun together sometimes? Do you think we will always live near each other?"

"I hope so. But no matter what, when we are together we can figure out cool stuff to do, even if it's just hanging out, huh?"


Happy Mother's Day.