This I Believe

Mary McNamee - Evansville, Indiana
Entered on July 22, 2008

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s book It Takes A Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us, which focused on the impact groups and individuals outside the family have on the well-being of a child, prompted me to examine the relationships in my own life and how they have influenced my two daughters, ages 18 and 22. Borrowing Mrs. Clinton’s phrasing, I believe it takes a book club to raise a teenage girl.

There are ten women in my book club. And between us, we’re raising 17 girls. Only one of those seventeen is still in grade school. The others are being nurtured through those wondrous, treacherous, ever-changing teenage years into young adulthood. Two will head back to finish high school this fall; nine are college-bound; three will begin graduate school; and two have completed their first year in their chosen professions. Each one is a bright, beautiful, successful young woman following her own dreams and ambitions.

The book club formed when the oldest girl was still in high school. Every month, following a spirited discussion of the current book selection, our conversations inevitably turn to the topic of mothers and daughters. We celebrate achievements; seek advice on problems; commiserate over anxieties; and, most often, offer reassurances.

The book club met for a garden party earlier this summer. We admired the additions to our hostess’s shade garden and her newly finished flagstone pathway. But our call to gather was to see her double-decker birdhouse. In the “top floor� was a mother robin and chicks. Residing in the “bottom floor� was a little wren-like bird ably assisting her upstairs neighbor in the care and feeding of the hatchlings.

We marveled how the mother robin could overcome her protective instincts to allow another bird to interact with her brood. Amazing, too, was the constant attention of the surrogate who guarded the nest as the mother robin left to search for food. They worked together to provide for the growing birds.

Each month I look forward to seeing my book club friends. This remarkable group of independent, kind, and loving women has taught me much about motherhood. As our youngest daughter begins college this fall and our home becomes as quiet as an empty nest, I am filled with gratitude for their wise counsel and shared belief that our friendship and experiences do indeed benefit all of our daughters.