My oldest daughter’s college roommate is a mommy, and has been for six months. I got to meet her baby this weekend. In fact, my whole family met the baby girl, and we made complete fools of ourselves. Now, she’ll never have to wonder what it’s like to be pursued by the paparazzi. All our phones were pointed at her constantly, vacillating between stills and videos. Although we’re all late risers, we got up at the crack of dawn just to try to beat each other to the baby. Then we passed her around like a delicate football, while the rest of us cooed, sang, tickled and prodded her, and spoke to her in some weird soprano sing-song voice. I made excuses, “We haven’t been around a baby since the early days of this century.” But, her mom just looked at us and laughed. In fact, she did her best to help amuse the baby so that we could take awesome photos.
My daughter, Claire, met the baby’s mom when they were freshmen at TCU in Fort Worth. They were among a group of several girls who, undoubtedly, will be friends for life. In fact, they’re more like sisters than friends. They see each other only a couple of times per year, but always pick up right where they left off, as if they’d just come back from class to their shared dorm rooms. As a bonus of their close friendships, I got new friends, too; those girls’ moms. We enjoyed each other during four years of Parents’ Weekends and sorority philanthropic events. We exchanged exasperated glances at one another when carrying load after load of luggage up the sorority house stairs, where they all lived on the same floor. And, when they were seniors, we helped furnish and decorate the little cottage they shared just a few blocks from TCU. (One mom in particular was a rockstar when it came to decorating, and you know who you are, Nancy!) Claire and I laughed when the traditional “WELCOME” mat we purchased from Target was moved to the back door to be replaced by something trendier. No offense taken, it was the right move. We parents became friends because of the extraordinary friendship that our girls shared, and the mutual terror that we felt, as inexperienced parents of college freshmen. Our daughters were either the oldest, or the only, girls in their families. We parents were scared to death when we dropped them off at college and were unsure what to expect. But, a few weeks into their first semester, we began hearing about this small pack of girls who’d managed to find each other amongst 10,000 students or so. They’d pledged the same sorority in the first few days of school and enjoyed pajama parties in each other’s rooms, Thursday college nights at Billy Bob’s, and the Horned Frog football games. We all met each other during TCU Parents’ Weekend in October of freshman year. For the next four years, we were extended family. Not only did the girls enjoy their time together at school, but they often spent their vacations, holidays, and spring breaks at their various families’ homes. I was thrilled the first time the girls came to our house in San Antonio for Fiesta, and enjoyed watching them try on Mexican dresses and flower wreaths and head out to the Fiesta Flambeau parade.
College graduation was a bittersweet time for the parental units, as we knew that the occasions we’d all be together, sharing in our daughters’ trials and triumphs, would be few and far between. We were teary and happy at the same time, as were our daughters. Somehow we knew things wouldn’t ever be the same. There were times, however, when we’d all gather again. Soon after graduation, my daughter’s roommate lost her mother to ovarian cancer. A few months after that, she married her high school sweetheart, also a TCU alum. Since then, three of the other housemates have married, and my daughter has been a loyal attendant to all four.
Last Friday night, my daughter’s close friend and college roommate drove up to our house with her baby in a car seat in the back. I was anxiously awaiting her arrival when I saw her car turn into the driveway. I ran outside, jumping up and down and waving my arms. “Shhh, she’s asleep,” said the little mama. I watched her extract the baby from the car seat and walked quietly with her into the house. When she placed that precious bundle in my arms for the first time, the emotions were overwhelming. “Mom, are you crying?” asked my youngest. I couldn’t deny it. This cuddly, tiny creature with big, inquisitive eyes and a bow-smile to melt your heart was looking right at me. “Hi sweetie,” was all I could muster, as the memories of our girls bonding at school came flooding back. The next night we had a Fiesta graduation party for my nephew. The baby, her mama, and her mama’s old roommate wore Mexican dresses and floral wreaths, while I looked on and smiled.