As a mom you probably already know that certain people in your life are invaluable. From a loving and supportive partner to a best friend who’s always on your side, you cherish these relationships because they’re more than just essential to your sanity, they make every day just that much better.
But when it comes to seeking wisdom, where do you turn? For those of us still lucky enough to have her, we turn to our mom. And while mother-daughter relationships are often as cherished as they are complicated, there’s another powerful relationship we too often overlook – that of a senior friend.
My met my best senior friend 15 years ago. She hired me at the tender age of 22 to perform a job I had no idea how to do. In the 13 years I worked under her supervision, she trained me, counseled me, supported me, and became like a work mother to me. Through marriage and two children, she held my hand through silly arguments with my husband, the pressures of working mom guilt, epic deadline meltdowns, and ultimately, the decision to leave my job.
Through it all our friendship has become one of the greatest treasures of my life because thanks to her, I see life in a way that takes most of us, well, a lifetime to understand. I guess in a lot of ways, she’s been my shortcut to understanding.
As mothers we regularly give the best of ourselves to our children, partners, parents, and a select group of like-experienced friends. But if we broaden our scope just a little, we find that there is so much to be gained from friendships with folks far more seasoned and experienced.
Besties 1 of 8
Take a look at 7 of the countless ways my senior friend has changed my thinking about life, love, and parenting.
Laughing through pain 2 of 8
"If you don't laugh you cry," she says every time she produces a hysterical joke amidst a tearful exchange. My friend has lived a lot of life in her 70 years and despite her deepest challenges, she continues to smile and recognize the good in people, life, and all there is to look forward to.
Youth is a state of mind 3 of 8
"I'm spending my kids' inheritance!" she jokes as she places a 5 spot in the slot machine. I hit up Vegas with this little lady who literally ran circles around me. Always up for a good time, she made sure we hit up two shows, shopped our fannies off, gambled and explored until I finally collapsed. Her love of life and thirst for new experiences is as awe-inspiring as it is contagious. "I want to do it all!" she exclaims and you know what, she makes me want to, too.
Motherhood is forever 4 of 8
On particularly difficult parenting days, I find myself secretly wishing my children were older, for no other reason than a moment of reprieve from constant bittersweetness. Upon admitting as much, my friend (and mother of 5 adult children) reminded me that the worry forever remains. Witnessing her care for her children with the same level of attention and pride as I do proves that this journey is one of our hearts. "Mothers are mothers for life." Amen to that.
Friends are family 5 of 8
"My friends are my family," she says as she picks up yet another treat for yet another friend. Always thinking of others, she generously gives of herself and her time going above and beyond for friends in her daily life. Carefully selected and obviously cherished, her friendships are among her greatest accomplishments in life. Isn't that just so amazing? Measuring your life's success through people rather than things has made me reevaluate my priorities on numerous occasions. "It's about the memories you leave behind," she says. And how.
You do what you have to do 6 of 8
She raised very young children as a widowed mother and worked her way up the corporate ladder in a highly competitive industry - all from a modest beginning. "I did what I had to," she'll say without so much as a second thought. "When you don't have anyone to rely on, you learn real quick to rely on yourself. You have to." And did she ever. Cheers to that.
The check’s in the mail and I love you 7 of 8
My friend will tell you words are cheap. "Yeah, yeah, the check's in the mail and I love you," she says whenever she's certain she's being fed a load a bull. I'll just tell you there's something wildly entertaining about watching her call out total bullcrap. "My mama didn't raise a fool," she says. No ma'am, she did not!
Don’t reinvent the wheel 8 of 8
As a supervisor, my friend was always looking for smarter ways to get things done. "Don't reinvent the wheel, Lori," she used to always say. Because of her, I'm forever looking for ways to draw upon existing resources to compile and repurpose information in new, better, and more efficient ways.