Mary Dell writes: Teenage girls travel in packs, migrating between friends’ houses. Over time, mothers and daughters from each family get to know one another well. When it is our turn to host a Friday night sleepover I am delighted. On Saturday morning, while serving pancakes, I pull up a chair with my daughter and her friends and join them for a chat. Learning how to be welcomed (momentarily) into my daughter’s group, yet heeding the cue to disappear, are lessons I learned from my mother when she was the one wielding the spatula.
I recently asked my oldest girlfriends about their memories of those long ago school days. Here are some of the things they remember:
From H: One of my most vivid memories of your mom was the first time I saw the amazing Christmas decorations she had created in your home. Her explanation of all the things she had chosen and her pride in the final result were inspiring.
I also remember your mom being careful to give us space. She would set up a beautiful spread of food, sit down for a moment to catch up with all of us, then gracefully disappear.
From ML: The first day of 7th grade carpool, she insisted that she take pictures of us opening the car door. We thought it was awful at the time, but I love the pictures now.
She had paintings of ladybugs made for each of us with our names on them as graduation gifts. I still have mine today.
From C: Your mom was always happy to lend her creativity and wisdom to a class election or other school project. I remember her as our “go-to” mom and we all enjoyed her love and attention!
I remember the very first time I spent the night with you, she gave me a little stained glass sun-catcher as a favor and I think I still have it somewhere! She always sent us home with some little gift or favor.
Your mom didn’t seem competitive but delighted in the achievements of all of her little flock of your friends.
As they remember my mother from 40 years ago, my friends are describing a woman who was creative, generous, non-judgemental, caring – qualities she still possesses in abundance today, at 86!
Every mom who has a daughter is the most important role model her daughter will ever have, for better or for worse. She might also be a role model for her daughter’s friends, again, for better or worse.
While I will never be creative and crafty like my mom, nor do I decorate our house with the festive flourishes that thrill her, I am inspired by so many of her lovely qualities.
When I sit at the table on post-sleepover Saturday mornings, nibbling on my own pancake, the cue to depart is very often a well-practiced eye roll. I rise and take my plate to the sink knowing that while rolling her eyes, my daughter is seeing so much more about me as a mom. In fact, every pair of eyes at the table sees much that they carry with them for life.