At 4 years old, the young girl dreams of princesses, fairy tales and Barbie dolls. For the past week, she has been excitedly talking about her upcoming trip to a “princess party” with her (favorite) aunt.
As she walks in the doors of Albany’s SOWEGA Council on Aging, an evil queen from “Alice in Wonderland” greets her.
“I don’t like your hair,” the child says, as her aunt quickly shushes her. Fortunately, the queen is wearing a red, curly wig, so at least the insult is directed toward a costume piece.
“That’s okay — I’m evil, so it’s all good,” the queen replies.
Wearing their Sunday best, as is befitting Derby day, the two pals continue their trek inside to the ballroom, where ladies from all around the area are enjoying “Tea at Two.”
In an event that beckoned the days of yesteryear, when ladies took time to linger over good conversation, food, and hot tea, women of all ages enjoyed recreating the tradition, happily mingling and sampling appetizers at festively-decorated tables loaded with fine china and quaint teapots.
Through the eyes of a child, this was a delightful way to spend the afternoon. I watched as my niece, Caroline, developed a fascination with using the special tongs to pick up sugar cubes and watch them dissolve in her drink. She talked with other “princesses” her age and pretended to prance down the runway like those she saw modeling the latest looks from “Sweet Potatoes” and “The Royal Collection” during a fashion show.
But the absolute highlight was the appearance of two of her biggest heroes: Dora the Explorer and Doc McStuffins. In fact, Caroline kept me walking in my high heels as she flitted from one celeb to the other, tugging their pigtails, taking pictures, and following them into the bathroom so she could give them one last hug.
“Sorry, sorry,” I murmured to Dora, as I tried to gently pry my niece away. Doc McStuffins was secure in the stall, probably hiding from us so as not to cause trauma when she re-emerged as a real person, holding Doc’s head in her arms.
In the end, it doesn’t matter that Caroline spilled pink lemonade on her white dress almost as soon as we got there, or that she turned into a paparazzo stalker with her idols. What matters is the memories that we made together.
I try to take my niece on as many adventures as possible, and I enjoy them as much as she does. Since I have no children of my own, she’s “my baby,” and I love teaching her the ways of the world.
For me, Mother’s Day is about honoring the women in my life who are special to me — in a variety of ways. At the top of the list is my own mother, whom I can’t imagine going through life without. But there are others as well.
Like my sister, whose child feels like my own in so many ways. Or my great aunt, who has no daughters of her own. She does have one son, so she won’t be forgotten, but we women have to stick together.
Then there’s my Granny, whom I love to share days of cooking and canning with, and her first cousin, whom I adore.
I also have a slew of friends with their own children. As a young adult, I’m definitely in that stage of life where most of my friends are married and having babies of their own. So, why not honor those mothers today? After all, these are my dearest friends, and I’m going to watch their children grow up. I’m going to be that person who, in 20 years, says to the kids, “Oh, I can’t believe how much you’ve grown!” as they smile politely and uncomfortably laugh, just like I once did.
For now, I’m content in my role of wishing my friends well and assisting them on their parenting journeys.
With that being said, I have to admit that sometimes I tire of most conversations revolving around bearing, birthing, and raising babies. Since I’m currently the only one of my core group of friends that is single and childless, I’m clearly outnumbered on this front, so I’ll keep my mouth shut — probably. However, when my time comes, I feel like I’m already well-educated in the art of raising children.
I’m sure mothers everywhere are laughing at me as they read this.
To all the ladies out there: Whatever part you play on this day, whether it’s the title role or that of a supporting player, you deserve a day of celebration. Happy Mother's Day.
Email Laura Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.