Monday, April 26, 2010

Second Mothers

I am still thinking about the delightful time I had at Mendham Books in Mendham, New Jersey. First, it is always wonderful to actually meet with the people who buy your book. We were fortunate that day to have My First Best Friend sell so well. One person, whom I didn't get to meet, bought 25 books. Another had me sign 13 books she wanted to give to a group of 40-year-old friends celebrating 27 years together. Being part of of such a fun time made me very happy.

One of the gentleman who came with his wife and both their families reminded me again of how important mothers are in our lives--and not just our very own. His mother's first best friend was also his, he said. He could often talk to her about things that maybe he wouldn't bring up with his own mom. It was a special secret society. Another friend recently told me the same thing about his mom's FBF. "I'd stop by and see her often," he said. "And we talked about so many things."

My sister and I had a family friend, Julie, who was our "very own" keeper of secrets. Julie never had children of her own, so she "adopted" us. She was a part of our lives for a time. I used to walk our little Scottie dog to her house and sit in her immaculate white kitchen while she made wee mince pies. I got one right out of the oven. There always seemed to be some wonderment in that almost magic cottage.

A bonus in doing the research for My First Best Friend was hearing the heart-warming stories of love and attention from "second mothers." The "mom next door" was often an endearing presence, contributing in quiet and unseen ways. Just ask JoAnn, (page 92) who credits her FBF Bernadette's mother with being her role model for mothering her own three daughters. "She never raised her voice," JoAnn remembers. But it is far more than that; a little girl remembered of her little friend's mom--it was the open heart beyond the open door.

With Mother's Day approaching, share your stories of that second mother whose love enriched your life. I'm sure they will enrich us, too.


  1. Nancy, what a lovely post. I had a string of 2nd Moms; the first being the magical woman next door, Verona Roberts! With a name like that, how could she be anything BUT magical! She was sophisticated, an artist (her rendition of my childhood Cape Codder hangs in my dining room), and loved me--she had only a son, and I think yearned for a daughter. At any rate, she "adopted" me as her little girl. I sat and watched her paint, listened to her stories, and in fact, her dear husband, Adrian (of course!) taught me to sit perfectly still (which is magical indeed) so that his tamed squirrel friends would eat from my outstretched palm. The Roberts' showed me a world my middle-class beloved parents didn't really know--a world of African art, symphony music, amazingly eruidite pasttimes (chess, golf!) that seemed very exotic to one little Maryland lass. When we moved when I was in 3rd grade, I sobbed at the thought of leaving Mrs. Roberts and wonder to this day if she ever thought of the knobby-kneed "daughter" who loved her so much.

  2. Whoops, that's me, Karen Marline, above. Forgot to sign my name!

    Love, Karen Marline

  3. I had a second mother - the mother of my first and only childhood best friend. Paula's mother even called me "my second daughter".

    Without her influence, which was a little bit different than my own mother's, I wouldn't be the woman I am today. I have been sending her a Mother's Day card every year since I left home. So does my sister. We know one day those cards may not make it into Rosemary's lovely hands. Perhaps they will then become Daughter-of-Second-Mom cards.

    Last year my 2nd mother and my best friend came to my home for a summer visit. I had not seen them in 25 years. When the car pulled up, I stepped out onto the porch smiling. My 2nd mother stepped out of the car with her arms opened wide. Our three way embrace caught us off guard as we found ourselves suddenly weeping.

    The Mother's Day card I send to Rosemary each year has one meaning: Thank you for including me in your circle of love....


  4. One of my high school girlfriends mom's was special to me. I hadn't really thought about this for a very long time. Helen hired me to work in her dry cleaners. She was such a support to me and would listen to how my day in school went. She took me to my first movie, even though she knew my mother wouldn't want me to go to movies. Later she helped me with my wedding and was such a dear friend. Thanks for the remembering.

  5. Your posts have a way of forcing me, ever-so-gently, to sit back for a bit and ponder the subject at hand. That would happen to me a great deal when Victoria would arrive. I always, and still, need to think a bit before making a comment. It always "sweetens the pot".

    This post is no different. I read it late last night and thought about it as my head hit the pillow. I really didn't need to think of who my other mom(s) were as they are always with me in my heart and soul and I know them all. I just needed to let them settle a bit in my mind.

    There were many, many women who carried me through my life, and still do. My mom was a wonderful mother and woman, but, like most girls, I often needed someone else to to talk to. My aunt, who lived in the same big ethnic house until I was five, and then lived next door was the woman most like a mom to me. It was sweet bliss when she would say I was like a daughter to her. I could merely run out our back door, across the walk between our houses (I'm talking a sidewalk here - a cement sidewalk) and into her back door and there she always was to hear my problems and plans, how my mom didn't understand me, and then how to buy my parents the first anniversary gift I ever gave them. I brought my $6 over to her and asked if she could help. My mom kept those crystal buffet dishes, the ones with the little spot for cups, for the rest of her life. My aunt, I later learned, supplemented my cache of money to make it happen. Oh, I could go on and on. My aunt was special to me, as were the mothers of friends who made sure I was always welcome to Sunday dinner or to chat over a book or recipe.

    Your post is lovely and what a great thought to share second mothers this coming May and Mother's Day.

  6. This is such a touching post. My Mom always joked that everyone wants to adopt us (my sister and I) but that it was she who did all the mother work! I've had some incredible "mentors" in my life!!!!!!!!!! I love them so dearly and I know that I am fortunate. Actually, I would rather call them "older" (although not necessarily "old" =] ) - "older women who poured into my life". Not a catchy title, I know, but, that's what I call them. I think of Esther, who taught me that keeping a house and being a beautiful woman doesn't automatically happen when we get married. We have to grow into it. Debbie, taught me to just keep praying - even when I feel dry as a bone. I remember Carol, who was transparent with me. Even though she was about to get her Mdiv and "apprenticing" with our college pastor, she said, "I wish that I really knew how to love people." Now, she was one of the most loving and down to earth people I know. I cannot tell you what a revolution of genuineness came out of that statement. Then, there are those counsellors at church and church camp who's words I don't remember but who's anchoring presence I can clearly recall when I think of all the frightening social situations that school and church brought my way - I was so shy! They kind of stepped in as "Moms for the moment".

    Momentary Moms - that's it! Our Mothers cannot or should not be there ALL of the time. I hope there is someone there for my boys when I'm not around and this encourages me in my opportunities. I need to stay on the lookout for those young people who are in that moment when they need a *genuine* and gentle "mother's" touch and encouragement.

    Whoops! Hello! I went so far off into thoughtland that I forgot you were here. Hope you don't mind following my rabbit trail!

    Love, Katy

    Gosh, what a touching and thought provoking post.

    I wonder how many people - out of ALL of the authors in this world - have such "personal" book signings. Well, I guess you wrote a personal book but, still, what a joy and a privilege that must have been. Your heart must feel quite warm. Hooray!

  7. What a delightful title, "My First Best Friend" I am Art A. Mike M. and I met in the second grade back in 1958 in Miss Steel's classroom--but we really met at recess. Racing through the jungle-gym bars with tanbark flying, we were both being chase by Sandy and Kathy. Mike and I would have classes together in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th,6th,7th, 8th and finally we had one class together in our freshman year of high school in ’66. We’d play together, have sleepovers, until it became more grown up to say we hung out with each other our freshman year, and were around one another all the way through finishing high school. As kids were both sometimes gullible, susceptible and impressionable but always faithful, always having fun. From riding bicycles, digging holes in the ground--to make a fort, to catching butterflies, life was full of sunshine and promises. We were each 17 when we graduated from high school—and then I enlisted in the Air Force in ’70. We lost all contact with each other for the next four years but we never lost touch with each other. Then, in 1977 I called him on his birthday, October 1st. I sang “Happy birthday” and we were both teary on the phone. Long story short…. I’ve called Mike, without fail, every October 1st since then to sing Happy Birthday to him and to pray for he and his family. Though we’ve only seen each other, fewer than seven times since 1970, we’ll both be at our 40th High School reunion this July, 2010. He’ll always be my first best friend.
    Where do I find your book? If they’re not too expensive I’d like to get a signed copy for Mike.
    Art A.