Talk about friendship in 2012.
The reason I kept this vague was because, at the time, I had a variety of things I wanted to say about friendship– new friends, old friends, what it means to be a friend (and was I even any good at it this year?) But, in my delinquency to write this post, my brain settled.
It was not in the last year that I realized my parents had become my friends– I think I fully realized this sometime during college. Sometime after I had abandoned the my parents don’t know anything and were never teenagers phase and had clung tightly to my parents actually know everything and I was so foolish to spend the years between 12 and 17 only sort of listening.
I think during this year, though, I demanding a lot from both halves of the relationship with my parents. I craved a lot of parental advice while I was unemployed and looking for work. I had to ask them about wedding planning and finances, which I found incredibly difficult and thus I think I handled with the very least amount of tact. In the last 26 years they have given me everything I needed and more than enough of what I wanted, always with my best interest at the helm of their decision-making. Presenting them with one more spectacular ask felt selfish, silly. I have asked their advice on marriage and living with someone and homeownership challenges.
Additionally, I have asked for a lot of friendship from them. I have called to talk for an hour, we traveled to Yellowstone together, we have sent each other funny emails, we all attended movies and plays together. We’ve had lunch and dinner and coffee and those delicious pretzel rolls at Town Hall Tap.
I was pondering this unique relationship the other day– the dual-role I ask of my parents and yet ask of very few other people. How do they know when to parent me and when to be a friend? And the big question I had for myself was: when did my parents become my friends?
You see, it’s not like we went to college together, or took sophomore algebra together. We didn’t play on the same softball team or work for 5 summers at a day camp. I didn’t think I could pinpoint the event in which poof! we were friends.
I tried to think about what the characteristics are in my other friendships and see if I could pinpoint a time in which that started in the relationship with my parents. When did we start laughing and playing? When did they start listening to my thoughts and opinions on what was going on in the world around me– even if that didn’t extend further than my middle school lunch table? When did we start to hang out simply because we missed each other? When did our interests align and when did we begin to take interest in each other’s hobbies?
The most wonderful truth revealed itself, although I think I truly knew it all along. Even in the times I perceived them to be really parenting me (remember learning to drive, anyone? I am thankful we all survived), and maybe even felt over-parented, they were still my friends. They have been my friends all along.
I still don’t know how they do it– how they know when to be a friend and when to be a parent. But I am certainly glad they do know, or are guessing extremely well.