A few months ago I had planned to “link up” to a friend’s blog to answer the question, “What do you do right, as a mother?”
I thought about it. And thought. And thought some more. And then, I kinda gave up.
This is not to say that I feel like I’m a shitty mother. Most days, I think I’m pretty good at my job. (And it is a JOB, people. Make no mistake.) I run on a hamster wheel of meal preparing and school shoe shopping and teeth flossing and bike riding and piano practicing and t-ball cheering and board game playing and homework helping and library frequenting and Girl Scout cookie selling and…you get the drift, because most of you do the exact same thing. I simply decided I didn’t have an answer that I could formulate into specific words. Mothering, at least my mothering, is so overwhelming and all-inclusive and constant, and I couldn’t isolate one individual thing of which I am proud above all else. The question was too vast, too complicated. Plus, then I read this beautiful post, and knew anything I could possibly put together would fall desperately short. And so I chickened out.
But I didn’t stop thinking about Emily’s question.
And now, I may have an answer.
Sunday was the first meeting of my mother-daughter book club, and It. Was. Fantastic. Better than I could have ever imagined. So far, we only have two mother-daughter “couples” (me, Eloise, my friend Jenny, and her girl Lola, who is conveniently Eloise’s best friend), but it was the perfect balance for a first meeting. We discussed The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall.
So we each read the novel, printed out some discussion questions from the internet, and met at La Madeleine French Café for dinner. It was a perfect venue – no one had to cook, and the girls could enjoy gigantic hot chocolates while Jen and I sipped glasses of wine (because what is a book club without wine, for goodness sake? Not something I’m attending, to be sure). We’re planning to meet once a month, each time at a different restaurant, so the girls can experience a new cuisine at each meeting – next month is sushi, for example, and we’re talking about meeting at the Houston MFA when we do From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Perfect, huh?
But here’s why it was so great. First of all, Jen and I each have three kids, so it was amazing to have the opportunity to spend focused time talking (like adults!) with our big girls, without distraction – no diapers, no one falling out of a chair, nobody throwing a tantrum, no one refusing to go to bed or needing a bath or a hug or some goldfish crackers or screen time or I can’t find my other shoe! or WHATEVER. No interruptions. And no interruptions for the girls either, because they got to take a night “off” from the demands of oldest sister-dom: No annoying younger siblings, no strict bedtime, and any dessert they wanted! Plus, it was surprisingly wonderful to see Jen connecting with my girl, while I interacted with hers. I think it must be so validating for young ladies to really be paid attention by an adult who is not her parent. And the talk was remarkably insightful! There was no silliness, no nonsense. Just little girls being celebrated for using their brains to analyze, to consider, to formulate thoughtful responses via the gathering of textual evidence (the scholar in me weeps! Weeps with joy!). What an empowering way to bond with a daughter, and I’m so glad we did it. I’m so proud of them.
Next month is Matilda, and I can’t wait. Who wants to join us?