I enjoy the company of my children’s friends so much… I try not to outstay my welcome… stay up too late with them… offer too many opinions… hang on their every word… I hope not. But I do have to tell you that they are such fun, so vibrant and full of a joie de vivre that is not only infectious but also completely enthralling. The good times we spend with our grown up children and their friends is different to the moments spent with our peers… being with my children’s friends is like being an observer in another world… it is familiar, yet I am not really a part of it… It is more a look, listen and learn kind of engagement whereas with my own friends of similar age I can be myself, be in the circle rather than looking in.
Last weekend my eldest daughter had a birthday party and invited a mix of school, university and work friends… all girls… it was a fabulous success. These 10 girls are all outstanding in their own ways… charming, gorgeous, highly intelligent and extremely successful. I was bowled over by their collective achievements and their phenomenal lives at such early ages… most were 27… and really going places… A trainee barrister, a group of bankers, an independent PR consultant, a social media expert, a commercial designer, a lawyer, a fashion consultant…and my clever baby about to start an MBA at London Business School… Quietly I was impressed with these down to earth young women who had ventured out into a tough global environment and were forging their way. I was reflecting on my own life at 27 and while I never thought I was a total slouch… it was a different world that I grew up in.
Why am I telling you all this? During the weekend so many of the girls were intrigued by how ‘I did things’… So many questions… about cooking, about flower arranging, about creating a home… about such simple things that I take completely for granted. They adored being in a home environment, in the country, away from the city and their hectic lives. Many of them had been to our farm over the years, yet each time they tell me that they love it more and more… They were like sponges, soaking up the atmosphere and the surroundings… trying to remember the parts in order to create a whole when their time as homemakers came. They were worried that they had spent so much time studying and working their way up the career ladder that they had never listened and learned from their mothers… ‘But how do you know how to do this’… The problem I had in answering their questions was that I had no easy answer. My homemaking is intuitive; a desire to create is in my genes and I learned from the best, a mother who was also a homemaker.
I lapped up their interest, as mothers I think we are so happy to accept the scraps of attention that our children and their friends bestow upon us… it’s not that we are needy, it is just that we love them so…and besides, I was delighted to chat about this subject. The girls have spent so much time studying and working… in many cases living away from home… that the skills that my generation take for granted have passed them by. They don’t know how to cook… they all want to learn… for them, preparing food and entertaining is ordering a platter of sushi from the local take away. Their clothes are repaired at the dry cleaners… a needle and thread would not exist in any of their flats… and flowers are an over the internet order delivered by courier. As much as I was enamoured with their brilliance, they were enchanted with the way they were entertained. My response was that it didn’t matter at all… that they would know all these little things over time… that the skills they had managed to learn and implement were far more difficult than setting a pretty table… I was envious of their polish as performers in our changing world and in truth was dumbfounded by their concerns over more domestic matters… They were not so quick to agree… and I adored them for that… the value that they placed on the wisdom and talent of mothers was like nectar to me.
I could see that as successful as they all were, deep down, they were still little girls with old fashioned hopes and dreams… all of them are moving towards that time in their lives where marriage and family will confuse their professional paths… their lives will become a juggle and choices will have to be made. I believe that they they have listened to their mothers more than they know… As mothers we may often feel taken for granted and dismissed on occasion… our opinions left fluttering in the wind… but deep down, I know that our children pay serious attention and rely on our guidance to build the foundations upon which they build their lives. Are there things you wish your mother had told you?