We look for the mirror to reflect back our best. That is true physically, emotionally, and psychologically. We also expect the mirror to show us our flaws, in the hope that we can make them better.
That is the true nature of friendship: show us the reality of who we are, and at the same time lead us to improvement. Those are the real friends – the people who reflect our best and are willing to see our worst. They not only accept the reality, they share in our joys and sorrows. They help us to grow and become better people.
In our home, when our daughters are here their friends are here too. There is a special kind of energy in the house when they are here together. It is connectedness on a different level, not just for our kids but for our whole family.
We have always felt fortunate that our daughters have excellent friends. They chose to connect with kids who, like them, were involved: in music, academics, sports, church, volunteering, and life. Their friends were more than just playmates. They were sounding boards and competitors. They shared open dialogue and sometimes arguments. They lifted each other up and helped each other through the awkward years.
Our kids always knew that their friends were welcome in our home. They had their alone time together. They had sleepovers and parties. We also shared family time with them. We ate together, played games together, and went places together. At a concert or a sporting event, we applauded and cheered just as loudly for their friends as we did for our own kids. I would sometimes come home from work and find the kitchen a mess after their baking sessions. That still happens.
Having watched these people grow up, we now get to see their next steps and it’s exciting. We stand in awe as they move into young adulthood. They are continuing their educations, or working, or both. They are gracious and caring. They have purpose in their lives. They are committed to things they believe in. They are headed across continents into career paths they may not have fully discovered yet. They are smart and savvy.
We don’t know their new friends very well. We may have been introduced in a dorm or apartment at one time or another. We may have shared an occasional meal during a visit to one of their colleges. We hear their names. But some we have never met, and it is hard to put an unknown face to a name. Never the less, we are certain that our daughters have made great choices in their new friendships. We know that, because the groundwork was laid a long time ago with some extraordinary people.
Now, after their holidays, our daughters and their friends are heading back to their own lives in far flung places.
A mirror is not truly a reflection of who we are. It gives us a glimpse of who we want to be, and sometimes who we didn’t know we were. I hope you always have one by your side, in the form of a real and honest friend.