My favorite people to be around to bring up my spirits has always been my sisters (well, Mom, too, of course). We never get together without a lot of laughter, and it's the best kind of shared laughter, where you know what the other is thinking, know where their joke is going, understand the code their talking, if you know what I mean. As my nieces got older each of them has been added to this club. They each can hold their own when it comes to "witty repartee" when they're with us girls, and my own daughter has now risen to those ranks as well. I don't know why but the boys just don't quite get our humor sometimes, and none of them is slow by any means. It's a girl thing, a sister thing, a woman thing, I guess.
It occurred to me a couple days ago that Eler Beth has truly become one of my best friends. And that's all right because we still, believe me, have the mother/daughter dynamic in our relationship. She's always going to love and hate me the way she will love or hate no other. I tell her things no one else can or will because I know her as no one else can or will, at least until she finds her soul mate and has been married for a few years. And even then I'll know her in ways her mate never will. She can say things to me that she'd never say to anyone else she loves because she knows it is safe to do so. We can share secrets and dreams that perhaps we'd never speak of to anyone else. She is right there beside me almost every day, and she is right "in step" with me, figuratively speaking, wherever I go.
Once a few weeks ago I took advantage of going shopping for myself without her while she was spending the day with a friend. I don't like to shop as a rule, but when I have to shop for myself, particularly if it's clothing, I prefer doing it alone. I have never been one who liked to have a friend with me shopping. I like to go in, find what I want, and then get out. Well the whole time I was shopping -- actually even in the car on the way there -- I was missing my daughter. I realized that I actually enjoyed shopping with her. She makes it fun. She always discovers something new and interesting when we're out together and we always end up laughing our heads off over something or other.
I have always been in love with both my children. They are special in different ways, and I have a different relationship with each of them, to a certain extent at least, and not just because of their different genders. As alike as they can at times be, they are still both very different individuals. But now that Eler Beth is becoming more mature I find that our relationship has moved to a different level. And because she is my only daughter, this is a level I hadn't yet experienced and hadn't even foreseen. I think of my own Mother and her six daughters. We are all very alike in many ways, but we are also very different. I have different things in common with my five sisters. We have different shared histories and memories because the age range is so wide. And I know that Mom knows us each better than anyone else can or ever will. She always said when asked how you raise seven kids, that you treat them each as individuals. I have heard her say this, and she always has. She never lumped us together or expected something from one just because she expected it of another.
Eler Beth and I can exchange looks and know what the other is thinking. Yes, she has arrived. She's part of that club now. Yesterday she told me something that she thought I should know. She said, "I thought I'd better give you a heads up in case you didn't already know. Because you know," she said, half teasing, "I'll always have your back."
And she will.