mothering the mother

i am the child of many mothers.  women of the neighborhood.  my mom’s best friends. the recipe clubs. the book swaps.  the mustard  yellow kitchen phones with stretched out cords.

i speak to them now as an equal. somewhere along the way, we crossed a threshold, i was unknowingly indoctrinated into their club. we are all mothers.  i have my own circle now.  and with each day that passes i find myself fluctuating between being someone’s child and being mother to my own son.

it’s a constantly shifting floor.
one that is tricky to walk on.

any letter that begins with “My Little Meredith…” is going to wreck me. i know this now. it’s going to fill my heart with love and truth and empty it with honesty and reality.

“You were always like a mother to me, ” i tell her, “i’m not sure if you knew that.” of course she knew that. she was there in the late 70’s with the shag carpet, the atari, the tuna casseroles and dorothy hamill haircuts.

she knows more than i know. she knows my mother from the inside of parenting. just as i know my friends now. i wish i could be the grown-up version of me back then, i wish i could sit in on their circles not at their feet as i often was, but at their side and know them as the women they were. 

i wish… i wish…

“You were always special to me,” she says. and years of sleepovers, backyard swingsets, and clotheslines by the creek zip past my mind.

she was not much older than i am now.


a friend of mine told me recently that she was thinking of this the other night. this role i’ve stepped into. the go-between for my mother’s friends. she thought of this while looking at her own daughter. she thought of this while thinking of our own circle of cell phones, emails, book clubs, and blessingways.

it wrenches your heart with sadness to think of this, our possible future. our own children calling those who helped raise them. crossing time and roles to embrace what has past and what is yet to come.

today and always, i know this:
life cannot be lived without hope.