Decade N° 5: A Not-so-Average Blog on Middle Age
I’ve discovered a second generation of sisterhood among the daughters of women I hold dear.
By Carrie McConkey
In my early forties, I let go of my ambivalence toward having kids. The questions had slowed regarding when John and I were going to start a family, and he and I fully embraced the child-free life. Every now and then, however, the thought of whether we could have had a daughter gives me pause.
I’m very close to my mother, who taught me how to sew, how to write thank-you-notes, and how to smile when answering the phone. Always providing simple yet powerful advice, she tempers my driven, Type-A personality when I’m grappling with a decision about a project that makes sense on paper but doesn’t bring me joy. “Honey,” she’ll say kindly, “Remember when you did that type of thing last year? You really didn’t like it. Why would you want to do it again?”
So, I’ve often wondered what having a daughter could have been like, and what I would have meant to her. And, as He often does, God responded to my musings about that special bond. My closest Carson-Newman College girlfriends, with whom I studied, broke bread, and analyzed all details regarding encounters with boys, have grown up to raise their own beautiful families. And all have been blessed with at least one daughter — now the same age (or nearly so) as when we were attending our Alma Mater.
Being “Aunt Carrie” is wonderful — but it feels like so much more. These are the daughters of women alongside whom I shared four years of my life. There were no secrets. We knew one another’s sleeping habits, who made what grade in English class, and who was wearing raggedy underwear on a particular day.
I always marveled at the natural beauty of my C-N sisters. They had a light about them — a wholesomeness and purity, but also a clever sense of humor and a sharp wit. These Godly women seemed ready for anything, diverse in talent and adventurous in spirit. Now, their daughters possessed a mind-boggling mix of the same looks, interests, and mannerisms of their mothers, keeping me in awe of the miracle of parenthood, and flooding my mind with flashbacks of their mothers and me in a much younger time.
The daughters of my friends hover near me when I visit, and I enjoy getting, and giving, lots of attention. I’ve helped Sadie, the budding fashion designer, decipher a vintage reproduction clothing pattern when making her one-of-a-kind prom dress. Upon spotting her older sister Chloe working diligently at her first job at Chick-fil-A, I caused a loud but happy scene when pulling up to the drive-through window. Julianne, with her mother’s almond-shaped eyes, is quick to give hugs. I’ve provided career advice to Katie, an outgoing co-ed who is steadily marching toward graduation and a future that I know is bright, but to her, still uncertain. I’ve had the mature-for-her-age middle schooler Adelaide firmly planted by my side, serving as my capable “assistant” as I helped her mother with a home decorating project.
I feel a kinship with my best friends’ girls, with a built-in sense of peace and trust. I know that I will know them as women, perhaps even forging my own friendships with them. I believe they feel the same about me. Is it due to having the same DNA and chemistry that drew their mothers and me together to become sisters for life? What causes a friendship to bloom, anyway, and is it hereditary?
I may never know, but I will enjoy every moment of my unique bonds with these special young ladies even as my relationships with their mothers continue to grow and deepen.
I’m grateful to my Carson-Newman companions for sharing their daughters with me. I’ve witnessed the magic of motherhood, viewing through a different lens my own mother-daughter journey and reliving the best parts. I feel a parental sense of pride as these not-quite-but-almost carbon copies of my friends conquer each school year, discover their strengths, and overcome their fears. Watching them sparks tender memories of the special times I shared with my cherished college chums, and these new, old friends provide a living link to the next generation, and to happy times ahead.
I can’t wait to see how I’ll feel — and they, and their moms — if they someday have daughters of their own.