There are few people in my life that mean as much to me as do my college girl friends do- in particular the three woman that I shared a house with senior year. There’s MP, who remains one of the most driven and hardworking people I know (maybe second only to her husband) and who is completing a GI fellowship in the Harvard Medical system (where she also attended medical school, received an MPH, and completed her residency), and MK, who has a degree in social work (and has worked with some of the most under-served populations over the years) and worked (more than) full time the last several years while her husband went to law school, and is now enjoying the fruits of her labor working as Mom to her first born, and finally LV, who does some pretty impressive things as well (and which she has requested I not discuss here).
These women also make the time to cultivate outside hobbies and interests. They read real books (not just hard-backed picture books with a maximum of five words/page like me , although I look forward to that changing soon) and talk about current events, politics, the economy, and pop culture from the perspective of someone who has actually spent some time educating themselves about the issue (not just listening to the 5 minute NPR sound-bite on the way to daycare like I do). They have close relationships with each other, their families, and their husbands. They are strong, curious, ambitious, thoughtful, respectful, good-humored, light-hearted, honest, and deeply loving women.
When we learned Eleanor was a girl I was a little nervous. Tim’s first comment after the news didn’t help assuage those fears- “You know, she’s going to look to you to what it means to be a woman”- but then I thought about these women (that I turn to for advice) and felt that I could handle it. Even if she ended up hating me (don’t all girls, at some point, completely reject their mother and all that she stands for, thinking that she is, without a doubt, the lamest person on the face of the planet?), surely she would see the other women in my life and glean something of value from them, see them as real role models, and use them as a resource to help her identify what it means to be a woman.
When Eleanor was several months old MK called to tell me that she, too, was having a little girl. How cool, I thought, another girl to join our growing circle. LV and MP are both pregnant now too, due just about a month apart, and get this…they are both having girls. I can’t get over it. And I can’t imagine anything more fitting: the circle (part of it, anyway, because there are others who don’t yet have kids) of women that I turn to for advice about how to be an active, engaged, and honest woman are all going to be raising little women themselves.
I like imagining them (our daughters) as college students and long-time friends, sitting around the same house their mothers’ lived in as college seniors, huddled under wool blankets because the house is so poorly insulated and electric heat so expensive and they didn’t get home in time to make a hot enough fire in the wood stove to properly heat the house in the dead of a Maine winter, talking about boys, or classes, or politics, or sports, or how cool their mothers are while we (their mothers) sit around a blazing fire, a glass of red wine in hand, discussing the same things. Sure, it’s completely unrealistic, but I do like that image.