An Open Letter to My Daughter: Having Girlfriends

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“There is just no comparison between having a dinner date with a man and staying home playing canasta with the girls.”
― Marilyn Monroe

Hi Celia. It’s me, Mom. I just thought I’d write a letter here to let you know how you already amaze me. Your spirit precedes you. You are sweet, you are brave, you are strong— and you are not at all what I expected you would be.

I have written about this all before, but now, more than ever I am seeing how having a daughter is changing me as a woman.

You see, I was a little girl once. And I was pretty good at it. I mean I had a Barbie townhouse, a Smurf Walkman and twin cabbage patch kids. I mean, as far as being a little girl goes, I nailed it.

But, compared to you, I was totally lame. You are so much cooler already- and you have moxie to beat the band.

But today I am not here to talk about all that. Today I want to talk to you about one of the most important relationships you will have. While your relationship with me, Dad and your brother are important, I think there is another one that will need your attention– your whole life.

I’m talking about girlfriends.

This past weekend I spent a luxurious three nights with a friend of 13 years. Michelle and I met one summer waiting tables. When I think of becoming friends with her now, it was effortless, organic. This past weekend, we had a wonderful time telling old stories, having laughs, soaking up the sun and just enjoying each other. The most important thing this weekend reminded me of was what it was like to be a girlfriend–and only a girlfriend. Before I had to juggle the titles of wife, mother, job, etc., I was just someone’s best girlfriend. And I was struck by the notion that being a girlfriend– at all stages of life— should remain a priority for all women.

My first best friend (circa 1985), Kerri Clancy, lived just around the corner from me. She was the one I had my first sleepovers with, my first pool parties, my first dance performances in my driveway. It was with her that I shared my first crushes, my first fears. I have such wonderful memories of my early girlhood with her.

And then my heart broke.

In fifth grade, Kerri moved.This is a very difficult change for a fifth grader to get over. Not having her in arm’s reach was catastrophic.

But I do think it was the evolution of that first friendship that taught me how vital genuine friendships are for girls. When Kerri left, I knew I had to make new friends. And in that experience I saw that making friends is an ongoing experience in your life.

I have had many friendships over the years and they all have provided me with such unique things– some are silly, some are very emotional, some are: “are we the same person?” Each woman I bond with as a friend brings something special to my life. So, today I bring you some good rules to follow in being–and in having—girlfriends.

1. Give her your time. Friendships evolve from the time you spend together. When that time gets sparse (i.e. babies are sucking up all your energy and you can’t remember the last time you wore heels), the friendship does not always have room to grow. Give your friendships the attention and time you give your bills, your big meeting at work or even your husband! Cultivating friendships helps you remember why you are friends to begin with. It’s important to stay in touch with that- no matter how busy you are.

2. Have friends of all ages. This won’t work really until you are into your twenties but it’s important to have women you love who are younger and older. You will have many friends who are the same age as you, but friends who don’t share the same life experiences at the same time offer both wisdom and perspective. Just like having a younger or older sister is good for any girl— the same goes for girlfriends.

3. Be silly. Laughter remains the best medicine for all of life’s ups and downs. If you remember the part of Sex in the City where Charlotte has an inconvenient shart in Mexico, you know this: Girlfriends need to be there #1 for support and #2 to laugh our asses off at each other.

4. Tell her what she means to you. It can be truly fortifying for a friendship to put into words what she means to you. Any friend who has sent you the “Thinking of you XO” text or I happen to be a card person but it could really be anything- a card, a text, a phone call. I’m infamous for the rambling voice mail message. It’s tried and true.

So Celia, be ready. You, with that spunk and flair are sure to have some friends who will support, strengthen, challenge and change you. And those relationships will carry you through your entire life.

Enjoy them.

Love,
Mom

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