When our first daughter married and went off to live with someone else, I panicked! My mind was full of questions. Had I taught her about how important Motherhood was? Did she know that she was about to embark on a whole new life and that all she carried into the marriage would also be transferred to her children? She was moving away so how often would I see her to even talk about it?
So I began our journey with the women in our family with “the glue that holds our family together,” namely an annual retreat for the Mothers and Future Mothers of Eyrealm, fondly known as MFME. Since then we have added four daughters-in-law to our four daughters, and we have met together each year for one-, two- or three-day retreats, depending on schedules and mostly on how many grandkids have to be attended to while we rejoice together and how many nursing babies are going to be coming along.
We started by gathering in Washington, D.C., where we lived at the time.
Here we are before grandchildren at an Alvin Ailey Dance Performance at the Kennedy Center. Our youngest daughter is taking the picture.
We combined arts activities that all the girls loved with a book that we had all read about motherhood as well as a questionnaire that they filled out. We refer to that original questionnaire about every four years to see how ideas and opinions change as children enter the picture. It’s pretty entertaining!
We saw a window of time one year after our first grandchild was born when we just happened to have collected enough frequent flyer miles to get all four girls and myself to Europe. We rented a car in Italy and had the experience of a lifetime flying from one city to the next for a whole week. We stayed in cheap hotels and shared meals. We laughed, talked, mused, argued and were beguiled by the wonders that we saw together. Here we are at the colosseum in Rome. What in the world were we thinking, even though it was “the style” in America that it would be cool to wear overalls in Europe? I think it was my idea. Sheesh!
The real world hit as more and more grandchildren joined our family. We went from Rome one year to a 24 hour dash a few years later to Lava Hot Springs in Idaho just after our family reunion while the dads and the grandtather watched the kids on the beach at Bear Lake where we held our reunion. At least we got to soak in some hot mineral springs for a few minutes!
Years went by and more daughters-in-law and more and more grandchildren joined us (#20 arriving in March). It became more and more complicated to get everyone away from their families but we tried to have these events where someone lived to spare expenses and somehow we managed to continue. Here we are just after Saren, our oldest, had twins. She also had an almost five year old, a three and half year old and a two year old (that makes five kids in five years). We met at her house in San Jose brought the twins with us and jumped for joy at the Museum of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Saren is taking the picture with a twin attached to each hip!
At our retreat in St. George when two of our group lived there we loved hiking and eating and talking about our best and worst events of the year, our favorite books and movies and reviewing our “questionnaires”. Everyone was at a different place than they had been when they had filled out the questionnaire and it was fun and stimulating to compare notes and update ideas. One thing we wanted to do for sure was to remember that we were still crazy after all these years!
Last summer we hosted an overnight MFME Conference in Park City. It’s fun to see the parade of babies change, but there is always a baby or two, sometimes three!
This week we rejoiced in being together in Orange County where our son and daughter-in-law have just moved!
We loved talking about the new book, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (mentioned in the last post) and what that meant in our own experiences. We had also read the great classic,The Good Earth by Pearl Buck and loved what we learned about love and loyalty, poverty and riches and true character.
And I got to live my dream of being at the Getty Museum with the women I love most!
One mom was on her way to the elevator with our newest baby…Poem….which is what it’s all about!
I have to express thanks to these wonderful women as they teach me so much. How grateful I am to them for their inspiring ideas and amazing lives. I must add that for years I saved money all year to make this happen but last year we sold my mom and dad’s little farm house in Montpelier, Idaho and my share of the money is going to the MFME fund (and fun). I’m sure they’re smiling down from heaven!