For the better part of 2017 and early 2018, my 11 year old daughter, Casey suffered from migraine headaches. They caused her to vomit profusely. Even on herself in her classroom, on one occasion. The anxiety that accompanied that incident made getting to school very difficult, for awhile. There were days when she had to physically force herself, through tears, to simply get through the door. And I know on those days, her good friend, Anna, would walk beside her silently, an arm draped around her shoulders. Ensuring Casey knew she didn’t make that walk alone. The significance of that small gesture is not lost on me. Sometimes the very best thing a friend can do is simply show up and walk beside you. No words are necessary. Their presence speaks volumes. I know this, first hand, and seeing my daughter share that bond with her friends was the motivation behind this shoot. These young women are Casey’s tribe. Her ride or die. Her core. And I love them all like my own.
Writing about this subject and these young women has had my mind all over the place. I have so many thoughts on it because I can’t think of them without thinking of my own girlfriends. My sisters, really. I don’t have a biological sister. I’ve never felt I needed one because that role has been filled by so many wonderful women over the years.
As I’ve grown older and been through more life experiences, both good and challenging, many things have happened in my friendships. My relationships with some have deepened, while others have run their course. And that’s ok. I’ve got cores from all aspects of my life. Sometimes it seems like a lot to keep up with. But they’re all there for a reason and I wouldn’t trade any of them. There’s grade school/high school (yep, I said grade school). There’s college and there’s my adult life. And in what I believe to be a unique situation, pretty much all of them have met one another and some have become friends, as well.
The importance of these women is coming full circle as I’ve watched Casey grow relationships with the young women in these photos. Their parents are friends of ours, so they met as infants. Went to different schools, then the same school and then different schools, again. But nothing about their bond has changed. If you follow me on social media, you may have seen my post about Casey’s birthday. Every year, she wants nothing more than these three girls. And after their time together, she wants their families to join in, as well. She’s never needed the big hoopla party. She just wants time with her girls.
It was cute when they were little and they would play dress up (they still do sometimes) and make videos (still doing that too) under the watchful eyes of us parents. We’re still paying close attention, but as they are getting older, their freedom is expanding, and I know they are enjoying that. However, what also comes with getting older is a hell of a lot of changes. Relationships get more complicated, hormones kick in and the body reacts, schoolwork gets a little harder, drama is around every corner and no longer will everyone always make the team. In seeing all of this happen, I’ve really appreciated bearing witness to the solidity of this foursome.
What became glaringly obvious to me with the migraine situation is that these young friendships aren’t just giggles and dressing up anymore. They are morphing into strength and support when Mom and Dad can’t be there to provide it. When they have to be turned loose to handle tough situations without us, these friends will have each other. For that, I am so grateful and it is such a blessing to be able to watch, even if it has to be from afar.
But it also scares the hell out of me as it’s all happening so fast. Hence wanting to capture it in time, as best I know how. They’re still silly as hell. The eye rolling is at a minimum, for now. But, it’s coming. Henny and I just discussed with one of the girls parents last night, that soon, high school will come and we won’t see them from morning until evening, when after school practices are over. Then it’ll be dinner and homework. So all of what we get to witness now, will be happening where and when we can’t always see it. It frightens me and I often wonder who I will be when “all day mothering” isn’t as necessary. But that’s a subject for a completely different post.
For now, I wanted so badly to capture what I see as the purest form of beauty in these growing female friendships. Ride or die. Casey has some solid ladies in her life and I hope she always will. Try not to smile when looking through these photos. I dare you.