My Sister’s Keeper
“I am your mother, NOT your friend!!!”
Whenever my mom was mad at me, I vividly remember those exact words barreling thru the room, reminding me that the roles in the Smith-Johnson Household were that of mother/daughter and not of friends. I don’t know how old I was when I first started hearing her say it, but I know it continued well into my teen years. For a long time, as an adult, I remember thinking that parents were SUPPOSED to be parents ONLY; not friends. But at what point does the accuracy of that statement deserve to be challenged?
If fathers are our first example of a man and set the standards we will grow to look for in a mate, is it possible that mother’s set the standards of what kind of friends we should both seek AND be? And if that is true and a mother does not feel a friendly-connection or obligation to BE a friend to her daughter, how then does one learn to be a friend? And before I go any further, let me say this blog is not about defaming my mother. She did the best she knew how to do. But in thinking on the challenge of “am I my sister’s keeper”, I can’t help but to wonder how many other women heard that [type of] statement when they were growing up.
I will be the first to tell you, it took a while to master the craft of being a good friend. I remember in the 5th grade, my best friend told me about a girl at our school who had slept with her cousin. She told me not to tell anyone but I couldn’t wait to repeat it and before I knew it, the rumor had made it back to my best friend. She all but cussed me out after school one day and declared that she would never tell me anything again. Our friendship was never the same after that. I did not “keep” my sister. But did I ever know how?
Over the years and through life, I, like everyone, have weathered my fair share of thunderstorms and sunny days where friends are concerned. I have mistaken a few, misplaced a few more and loved all of them like sisters. I have been let down and hurt and I have dished out some hard lessons and evil intentions. At 34, I am in tune with what I think a good friend IS; in terms of both being and receiving. But is that a result of my longing for a sincere friendship? Think about fathers and daughters again. An absentee father will create a need within his daughter to fulfill the void he left with other [and often lesser] men. With that said, is it safe to assume that a mother might cause a “void” in her daughter’s life should she withhold her much needed friendship?
The absence of such with my mom likely spawned my quest for genuine “friendship” that, much like the “father replacement” journey, left me in stitches, broken-hearted and heavily bruised before landing in a good space with great people. Even today my mother and I are still not friends. My secrets, my woes, my heartaches and triumphs are celebrated alone or within the friendships I’ve come to lean on.
I am always jealous when I see other thriving mother-daughter duos; Tina & Beyonce, Alicia Keys & her mom, random facebook friends and their mothers. These mothers not only took on the role of parenting, but they multi-tasked being authoritative figure AND first example of friend. Our mothers are our closest teachers. We form a bond that starts before our first out-of-womb breath and when that bond doesn’t develop into a natural friendship between the two, its like being attached to an umbilical cord full of gaps and holes.
Just as fathers teach us about men, mothers teach us about women; how to act as women, love as women, laugh, cry and be free as women.
Being your sister’s keeper starts at home. If you are reading this, odds are, by now you’ve already settled in your relationship with your mother. She is either your best friend or she’s not. You can either talk to hear about anything or barely talk at all. But what about your daughter(s)? Are you being their best friend and first example? It is not just our job as parents to teach kids the practicalities of life. Life is much more complex than going to bed early, not playing in your school uniform or making sure your veggies have been eaten. We have to know how to treat each other and how to be there for each other. We have to know how to spot those who operate oppositely of that because without love, respect and appreciation of one another, the only thing you will be “keeping’’ is loneliness.
Am I my sister’s keeper?
I have had very few complaints (at least to my face) about my ability to handle the duties of being a friend to those I extend such an offer to; but this has not come without trial and much error. If I am ever to be gifted unto me a precious daughter, parenting her will not only include my rule of thumb and laws of the land but it will embrace being her first and her very best friend.
Am I my sister’s keeper? Yes I am.
Are you ?
About Januarie York:
Januarie York is from Indianapolis, In and has been writing since she was a young girl. She started performing her poetry in 2003 and hasn’t looked back. Her colorful and descriptive poetry have allowed her to share the stage with some of her mentors and favorites, as well as create her own shows. She has released two spoken word CDs, one chapbook, produced two spoken word shows and is currently writing her first full length book. In addition to poetry, she has done freelance work for several local magazines and websites and is now the City Editor of Insight2Incite Magazine Indy. She also is a contributing writer for several blogs. januarie is well on her way to becoming a premiere and sought out writer of her time and has her performance eyes set on debuting a theatrical poetry show on Broadway, in the footsteps for For Colored Girls. Now is the time to tune in to this self-proclaimed “WomanOfTheArts” is.