Sunday, February 3, 2013

A new book club

About a month ago E and I received an invitation to join a newly-forming mother-daughter book club. We met for the first time today, seven first-grade girls, giggly friends, a sea of pink and purple; and their moms: jeans and yoga pants, a little more reserve, a little more school gossip.

The invitation posited a long-term goal of fostering a love of reading in our daughters. That part: done. But the side benefits? Socialization in unfamiliar houses? Fostering friendships? Facing some social anxieties? These are good goals (for both mama and daughter).

A woman we know told E and I about a friend of hers who was in a mother-daughter book club, that just like ours, began in the first grade. Her friend's club just disbanded this past year as all the daughters left for college. They read together all those years, meeting in living rooms, fostering reading, fostering conversation, fostering, I can only assume, deep friendships, both down and across the generation lines in those living rooms.

I sat quiet, watching my girl. She was shy and skittish during the activities but when it came time to discuss the book she raised her hand eagerly. Ever the student. I sat quiet, listening to the women. I feel young, novitiate. The other six moms all have kids older than our first graders, too. They know the school better, they have stories. Without putting too much interpretation on the potential of book club, I sat there wondering if I'll be the one with the most to gain from participation.

I felt humbled today. The book we read was about a first-grader who was nervous about the start of school. It was a great first selection and the girls engaged in relateable conversation. But I kept thinking about how while I can concoct grand schemes for myself or our family, I'm not one to start a project like this, with other people. It doesn't occur to me. But here someone has done just that, and invited us in, and I felt very grateful for women who build community, who take initiative, who open their homes to open-ended ideas and people they barely know on an inkling that camaraderie will grow itself between them, just like a love of reading among first grade girls reading about first grade girls.

Having kids has brought us some of our very favorite friends, people we wouldn't otherwise know as the childless couple we were. It was a wonder to sit on the steps in someone's kitchen and look around at my biggest girl, her giggliest crew and the mamas that brought them and imagine off into the future.

We took a photograph today, seven girls holding seven identical books, and then set the timer for another photograph. Fourteen faces at the beginning of something, and none of us know how big that something is but we recognize its capacity for greatness.

Or maybe it'll fizzle after a year, and that will be okay because my girl, at least, is already a lover of books. But look at all these moments where we're standing on the brink of something - and we almost never know it.

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