BY ALBERT M. LEWIS
---- — When our daughters were young girls, they seemed to be one another’s worst enemy.
On evenings when we thought we were on our way to a nice family dinner at a local restaurant, they would bicker about where we were going and who was going to sit on which seat in the car. Either Shirley or I would have to assign seating in the car and hope the arrival at the restaurant and the experience there would be much less dramatic.Once food was ordered and the process of eating had begun, a sense of normalcy seemed to return. That’s not to say there weren’t caustic words or occasional pinches on the way home.
By the time they reached the late teen years, our girls had formed a bond, usually around how to get what they most wanted from their parents, or to cover for one another if we had questions about where they had been and with whom. By the time they completed college they had become each other’s best friends; and as they had children of their own, they could offer one another incredible support and unconditional love. Our daughters, like so many sons and daughters, realized they had great strength, insight and love to give one another…and that the issues of early childhood could be laid to rest.
A few days ago, they arranged to spend time together while their children were in camp or away with their fathers. They came to visit us for dinner on one of those days and shared their laughter and experiences with us. Within a few moments we, too, were laughing … and realizing we were having an enjoyable dinner at home with enemies who had become best friends, children who had become parents to their own children — and who were now checking up on us.
There was laughter, piano music, singing and conversation about what was happening in each life around the table. We were sitting with adults with adult concerns and capabilities.
Writer Ritu Ghatourey has commented: “A daughter is like a little girl that grows up to be a friend.” As we share about our lives and our daughters do so with us, we do realize they are still our daughters, but also our trusted friends. We need one another in our lives and in different ways than earlier. We have learned to listen more carefully to what each of us has to say and to make suggestions if asked to do so. And, rather than any of us saying, “This is what you should do,” we are more likely to ask: “Would you like my thoughts about this … or prefer that I listen and appreciate what you are sharing?”
As the father of two incredible daughters, I still want to protect them; and I am appreciating that they want to protect their mother and me, too.
I love my daughter-friends.
Dr. Albert M. Lewis is rabbi emeritus of Congregation Beth El in Traverse City. He is a public speaker and author of “Soul Sounds: Reflections on Life,” available at www.soulsoundsbook.com. Contact him through the Record-Eagle, 120 W. Front, Traverse City, MI 49684.