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Article originally written for Seattle Pacific Student newspaper, The Falcon. Story available at the falcon.online

“Mommy.” Most likely the first word out of my mouth to my mother’s liking. A typical best friend usually stems from work or school, and definitely not someone you’re related to. However, for me it's my mom. These two categories are not as mutually exclusive as I once thought. 

I hope we are all past the days of being embarrassed by our moms dropping us off at school. It's 2021 and I openly admit my mom is one of my best friends. 

Growing up, I can remember my mom grabbing the phone to call my grandma almost everyday and every time I was annoyed at their constant jabbing about nonsense. Ten years later and I think I’ve taken on that very habit. I won’t try to hide it. We look alike, we talk alike, and we love our daily updates. 

I had always noticed that my relationship with my mom was different from my friends’. In the movies, daughters and mothers were always in conflict through their formative years and, in turn, by the time college came around, it was settled and civil. I had met people who were not as open with their moms, had strict curfews, and didn’t pursue a relationship with their moms at all. 

Is this type of relationship so common? Did I luck out with a bestie who I share half my DNA with? 

Our outings are interpreted as friends hanging out - which is a slight embarrassment for me and a huge compliment to my mom. Some days I almost feel guilty and weird for bragging about my relationship with my mom, feeling like I’mbeing judged for bringing her up at every chance I get.

Unlike that typical mother daughter relationship dynamic,  my mom and I have broken the stereotype. No longer is there a separation between best friend and mom, together it's the best of both worlds.

But this may not be the case for everyone, some relationships are destined to stay in one of the categories, and I’ve learned from my friends that it is okay and normal. Interpersonal relationships all have their benefits and flaws. For some, a mother doesn’t have to be a best friend, or even a mom at all. 

Some relationships weren’t destined to be best friends. And that’s fine. I’ve learned a great deal having my mom so close, but so has sophomore Taylor Schmidt who sees her mom as just that, a mom. 

“My mom, who I do not always “get along with,” has taught me what it is to have grace and how important that is,” said Schmidt. “Though we have genuinely struggled with our relationship, I see her as someone with past hurts who needs grace as much as me, even if that reveals itself in hurtful ways to me. My mom is not my best friend, and I want that to be normalized.” 

Although her relationship with her mom may not be the best friend dynamic, there are certain skills and lessons she's learned from her mother. These formative relationships, regardless of the dynamic, have the power to teach us important things about interpersonal relations. 

But maybe a “mom” doesn’t really have to be a mom. It could be a mentor, a sister, a grandma, a pastor, or even your best friend's mom. And maybe a mother doesn’t have to be a best friend.

Schmidt recalls her relationship with her high school youth leader resembling a mother daughter relationship - one not connected by DNA.

“She has seen me fall in and out of love twice and talked me through the heartbreak. She has shared her family with me and showed me what it looks like to be a gracious and loving parent,” said Schmidt. 

Whether a mother figure is your biological mother, an aunt, or personal leader - there’s something special about the relationships that form and the lessons one can learn. 

After years of seeing my mom work day in and day out, she has taught me determination to follow my dreams regardless of monetary success. She’s taught me how to be a good friend. She has shown me the type of love and support that deep bonds require. She has shown me what it means to be a strong independent woman. 

Wherever your relationship falls on the spectrum with your mom, I hope we can agree on one thing - we wouldn’t be here without them. 

To my BFM (best friend mom) and mom’s around the world, May 9th is dedicated to you for all the accomplishments, love, and care that you have shown to the world.

Tori McArthur is a Journalism and Sociology major at Seattle Pacific University. She loves to travel and lives by Indy Blue's mantra of "creating the life you want." You can probably find her at a thrift store in Seattle with a coffee in hand.
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