When I was in Junior High my Mother went back to working full-time. She arranged her schedule (and also the schedule of the doctor she worked for) to allow her to commute with my Dad and his odd hours. She also recognized she needed some time in the week for herself, and so she had Fridays off.
One of the things my Mom chose to do with those Fridays was get together with other Moms interested in the school district. Mom was very involved, not just with PTA but with the school board, policy making, busing. Politics in my house included campaigning for school board candidates. This was how Friday Club was born.
This group of women would get together for lunch (while the kids were in school) and theoretically hang out until we right before we got home. They were going to solve the problems of the day over coffee. “Ban the Can”, “Computers in the Schools”, “Arts Funding vs Sports Funding” and eventually even school closings were all on the table at one point or another.
The longer Friday Club lasted the more likely it was that they were still sitting around the table sipping coffee when I walked in the door a little after 3pm. I loved these women (we all did). They were all Moms. Some of them worked at least part-time. They all had kids in the school district. They were a range of ages and backgrounds.
They were solid friends. They talked about the problems they were having with their kids, their husbands, aging, working. They had high tea for Princess Di’s wedding and mourned Pope John Paul (the first one). They were there for each other when they turned 40, when they faced cancer, when they got divorced.
Because I was both quiet and well spoken I could be “unobtrusive” enough to listen in on the ends of those conversations. I’d putter in the kitchen, or grab a book and sit in the corner. Every once in a while the topic was something where my opinion was solicited. What an honor to have these women listening to what I thought!
Over time the group disappeared. People moved, got jobs, their kids grew up. Many of those friendships persisted. One of those women has been my Mom’s best long distance friend forever. She died this year. She was in the state last summer, but got sick enough that they couldn’t manage to connect. Mom knew she’d never see her friend again.
I’ve mentioned my women’s group once or twice in this blog (Here’s one). This weekend I had the opportunity to take some of them up to the “North Woods” and then stop in for dinner with my parents. Did I have sense enough to take a photo of my Mom with my GOM Girls? No. But it was a brilliant day.
We all had fun. It was a good road trip, perfect weather. We went to Deep Portage Nature Center and had the place pretty much to ourselves. Mom and Dad went all out for dinner. We had a fancy pasta with brie and cherry tomatoes. Salad with two kinds of homemade dressing. Dad made his bread and also made popovers. There was a clamor for leftovers to take home and sent bars as a treat in the car.
My Mom was exhausted (not a surprise) but also really thrilled. She said, “It’s Friday Club! They’re all so different, but it’s clear they all are supportive.” She got to sit in on the edges of the conversation, and was honored when her opinion was asked for. She got to host the ladies, and she got a little help with clean up as well.
It’s a memory I’ll cherish. It was a fun day for me. For her it was priceless. For me to be able to bring this gift full circle was truly an honor and a privilege.