Years ago I was complaining to my Montana friend Kathy about the expectations placed upon women of our age (at the time we were in our late fifties). We had to stay slim, show off our arm muscles and flat abs, wear cute clothes, color our hair, blah, blah, blah.
Our grandmothers, I explained, had it easy. They let their hair go gray, wore it in permed curls, covered their expanding (and expected) girth in comfy house dresses, wore stockings up to their knees, comfy shoes and sat with their knees apart.
What was our generation doing wrong? I wailed. Why couldn’t we let ourselves go and not be judged? Our grandmothers had been so smart!!!
I didn’t know my Kathy had absorbed this particular venting of mine until four years ago, when my daughter-in-law was pregnant with my first grandchild. Kathy presented me with a gorgeous gift bag filled with…a house dress and knee-high stockings.
She admitted she bought herself one, too (at Walmart, where they are still sold) so nothing would do except to have a party and wear them.
Which we did, along with my Montana Kathi (not the same person as Montana Kathy) and my lifelong friend Ellen. Kathi, easily the most stylish of our group, found a vintage house dress in an antique shop, but wasn’t quite sure if she wanted to be photographed in the darn thing.
We drank a lot of wine on the dock that afternoon. We munched on gourmet appetizers, swam, laughed, told stories about our grandmothers. And we sat with our knees apart, because our grandmothers did.
The following year we did it again, only this time we talked my friend Janou into wearing her aunt’s antique French house dress. We even wore our grandmothers’ jewelry and brought old photos of them to share.
We drank a lot of margaritas on the dock. And yes, there was gourmet food, swimming, stories and laughter. We toasted the generations before us and ate dinner from my mother-in-law’s china. And we sat with our knees apart.
The five of us are meeting for lunch here at the lake (where I am getting a head start on summer, having fled New England's nonexistent Spring) next Monday. We will have lovely gourmet appetizers, drink wine, eat chocolate and tell stories about our grandmothers and our grandchildren. It's a bit too chilly for house dresses, so we'll save that party for a hot August afternoon.
Happy Mother's Day to you! What would you like your children and your grandchildren to remember about you? And what were your best parties with your girlfriends?