A Last Lesson on the Importance of Friendship

Gabby, a Grown and Flown friend, writes: One of the good things about being a parent three times over is that I am more focused on life’s ordinary moments as my last child inches her way toward leaving the nest.  Recently, I was packing to go away for a rare “girls weekend” when my daughter sat down on the edge of my bed and asked me about the friends with whom I was traveling.  Ultimately, our conversation shifted into a philosophical one about her own friends and the importance of friendship.

I will readily admit my many failures as a mother but one of the things I am most proud of is the way I have communicated through action (and words) how much my friends mean to me.

importance of friendship, friendship, high school friends, high school girls

I am inordinately grateful and comforted when I look at my two older children who have already “flown the nest” and see the kinds of friendships they have established.  They demonstrate to me that they understand how to be loyal, inclusive, trustworthy, forgiving, and supportive in times of trouble.  They accept and celebrate differences. I am wowed by the way that they have chosen their inner circle (with an extended selection of friends beyond this)  based on “matters of the heart”  and common values.

All those years when I forced them  (claiming it was good manners and very important to me) to have a conversation (sit and dine) with my friends, helped them to understand the subtitles of relationships and importance of friendship to me.  All the times I prayed out loud for someone, shared my sadness and concern,  or dragged them along as I lent a hand to a friend-in-need has paid off.

Over my weekend away from my family, I pondered the time I have left at home with my youngest daughter in a new light.  I have surely grasped that time is short….. to stand on the sidelines, help with homework, navigate her next steps,  laugh together and do “girly” things and more.

However, possibly the most important part of this juncture is that it is my last chance to model important life lessons. Once children leave for college, they begin to shape their own lives.  More importantly, I hadn’t considered that what is really different is that they aren’t watching their parents as closely and certainly those times to interject just don’t happen as naturally.

Once a friend (and a family therapist) comforted me by saying ” don’t worry that your kids aren’t  listening to you….they are watching you every minute and absorbing the way you live.” This was a huge support to me during those adolescent years when a grunt was the regular feedback of the day.

I posed this question to my group of girlfriends: What is the most critical thing to communicate, by word and deed, during the days when my daughter still lives at home?  The serious and comic conversation ranged from wishing they had taught their child more old-fashioned manners to others who worried about what they forgot to teach their last child because they were tired and forgetful.  In the end, I frame this question to other empty nesters.

What last lessons should I focus on in during our car conversations ….with the driver’s license date  looming in the near future ?

On a side note, as I was about to send a photo of the group of girlfriends to my husband and kids, thanking them for the time away, my oldest daughter beat me to it. A year out of college, she was away on her own “girls weekend” with eight of her high school buddies…..

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  1. says

    What a wonderful post to read. Very refreshing. I think, no, I know you are doing a beautiful job. May you have many more meaningful moments with your children.

    • Gabby McCree says

      Thanks for your encouraging words….yes meaningful moments is the focus these days!

  2. says

    Love this post! It couldn’t be more true that even when our children don’t listen they are watching our every move. We really are teaching by example and some days that’s easier than others.

    • Gabby McCree says

      Yes this is thought provoking….Your comment makes me think that the little day-to-day decisions about how I live my life does impact my children…..even the grown ones.

  3. says

    This is a lovely post, thank you so much for sharing it.

    Asking the question about what lessons a parent might forget to impart reminded me of my dad, the former French teacher, realizing with horror one afternoon when looking at his three grown children that none of us spoke French. I’ll never forget the shocked look on his face when it dawned on him that somehow all that time had slipped by and he’d missed his chance! (My poor dad!)

    • Gabby McCree says

      Those of us with busy lives miss chances all the time. It sounds like your dad taught you other lessons, being a teacher who cared for others in the world.

  4. happy outlook says

    Gabby, such a thoughtful post – so many great messages about friendship. I can tell you first hand that you have modeled well since your son has been a great friend to mine.

    • Gabby McCree says

      Thank You! Interesting to think about the parents of their friends and that my kids were watching them too. They have all learned much from their interactions with these parents and definitely this factored in to their own friendships.

  5. says

    As moms we know the best way to teach our children is through our own actions. Isn’t it wonderful that our friendships – that bring such pleasure in our own lives- can provide such a beautiful example to our kids? Win-Win!!

    • Gabby McCree says

      Yes friendship brings pleasure and so many other dimensions to our lives.

  6. Mary says

    Thank you for your post. In my case when my children seem to have flown so very far away, it’s my friends that sustain me, hold me up and nourish me.
    Last lesson I would teach your daughter is that love is the most important thing. You model that beautifully and I am blessed to have you showing me love in my life.

    • Gabby McCree says

      yes and you are a model to me!

  7. Emily says

    Friendships have always been extremely important to me and I think my boys “see it” especially over the past two weeks as my friends have supported and comforted me after the loss of my mom. My boys have watched my friends bring food, flowers, dinners, send cards, take me for manicures, coffee, etc and now I think they understand how to be loyal and help a friend through a hard time.

    • Gabby McCree says

      I am glad you have the friends to support you. I lost my mother over 30 years ago…when I was a young woman and I miss her in expanding ways as my life unfolds….but also as I mature as a mother I feel her guidance in surprising ways.

  8. Carpool Goddess says

    Lovely post. With every year that passes my girlfriends mean more to me. My life is enriched because of them.

    • Gabby McCree says

      You seem to be a person who is good at counting her blessings.

  9. says

    I am incredibly blessed to be a Mom, but I find Mother’s Day to be a bittersweet day. I think of women who couldn’t or can’t have children, moms who have lost children, and children who have lost mothers. I’m in the last category. While my Mom was 82, and had a very good life, she passed away a week after Mother’s Day three years ago, and so this is always a time when I, along with my sisters, brother and Dad, recall that difficult time. Yet while there’s a void that is never filled by someone other than one’s mother, I have become closer to my siblings and my Dad in her absence. I am also so grateful for the friends who have become sisters to me, a benefit of long term relationships that now include not only the friends I met in high school and college, but the women who have now become lifelong friends since I met them as a young mom and am now an old(er) mom (as the “children” are ages 22 and 25). One of the upsides of getting old(er) is having old friends who truly know me and love me unconditionally.

    • Gabby McCree says

      And your good friends and your siblings who know you best do become sisters and a lifeline in this phase of life.

  10. says

    beautiful post. it is remarkable and surprising when we see lessons we never knew we taught them come to the surface in our young adult children.

    • Gabby McCree says

      I wish someone had encouraged me early on to believe this could happen!

    • Gabby McCree says

      I have been blessed in my life with special friends.

  11. says

    I love that your daughter was inquiring about your trip. That’s sweet that she was interested. Growing up with 3 sisters I didnt have many girlfriends until recently. I would have the prominent best girl friend but mist friends after high school were males. I very much value all the relationships I have with females now. Before it was too much. None of the same interests. But now as a grown woman I recognize the importance of diversifying my friends because it helps with growth. Great post!

    • Meg says

      Gabby, this is a very unique and beautiful post but not surprising because i am just so blessed to have found a friend in you and with your family and i could just picture the kids taking after their mom…you are indeed doing a great job both by words and action and i am very proud of you as a friend. Today, when i think back and see how much my mom imparted on me even though she died very young(49 yrs. old) and about 19 years ago when i needed her most, i simply live each day by her legacy, and i am very happy to have watched and listened. When i lost my mom, i thought i have lost it all-my best friend but i am glad to have a good friend like you to share my life with…you are a friend indeed. Thank you for your great example and love.