Riya came to me this week with a problem from school. She’s old enough now that I don’t feel comfortable discussing the details all over the internet. Something struck me as we talked, though: it’s not really all that much easier to be the mom of the kid going through a tough time than it is to be that kid. Especially when I, the adult, still struggle with some of the very same questions.
I’ve had three relationships disintegrate or fade away over the last few months. The three people involved are completely unrelated; if the timing hadn’t been so close together I would possibly not have noticed any kind of trend in this at all.
In the case of the first two, I just … stopped. An unanswered email is its own kind of answer, I figured. With the third, I tried to hold on, tried to force the issue, and it blew up, painfully, spectacularly, in my face.
I’ve wondered since, what could I have done differently? Was there something I said or did that made these friendships go sour in the first place? If I’d made more of an effort in the first two cases, backed off in the third, said things differently or better or not at all, would it have changed the way things turned out?
It’s not a thing I’m brooding over; it’s not ruining my life the way it would’ve in elementary school. It just pops up every now and then, especially when my daughter comes to me, frustrated and sad. Because the answer to all those questions in the last paragraph is, quite simply, “I don’t know.”
But because I’m her mom, I have to give some kind of answer, and even while I was speaking I realized the truth of it for myself, too:
“You cannot control what other people will think or do. All you can do is be yourself, and you will find friends who like you for who you are.”