There is a sense that one’s family has been extended, at least for a while, and anyone’s mom becomes everyone’s mom. I saw this as a teacher many times, and while some kids were bold enough to state their thanks to such parents, many showed it in subtler ways. But you knew they were filled with something that let them be, if nothing else, kids for a while, well fed and safe.
As a parent, I have felt the status of Everymom occasionally, although not with food. It has come more often when I arrive at school with information, able to tell my daughter’s friend that her own mother might be running late. Not to worry, I’ll stay here until she comes. My Everymom powers never felt stronger than they did a few weeks ago when I walked into a room after school and had three girls—none my own—come to me in a flash, expecting an update on their rides. I was, for the moment, home base.
Kids run from base to base sometimes at school but also out of it. And perhaps my friends and I did so even more without the structure of playdates or official carpools. How many times did we end up at our friend’s house, staying for dinner and getting an impromptu ride home?
Many a mom looked the other way when we raided her pantry to invent a cookie recipe. Rides here and there, dinners that turned into sleepover parties; so much of what we thought was freedom was facilitated by the parents of our friends who opened their homes and, in their effort to raise their own kids, by extension raised us, too.
I am feeling sentimental about this today, a few hours after hearing that one of the mothers of such a friend died last week. When we’re kids we may say “thank you” for the food or for the rides. But we often forget. And as parents, we are aware of our roles, both to our children and to their friends, and hope that by extending our reach, the circle around our own family is made larger and stronger.
But as a parent who remembers being younger, in this case, a teenager, I can’t help but think that the sentiment is not shared enough. Thank you to the Everymoms. Kids, especially teens, need more than their own parents at times; other families to connect with or to learn from or catch a meal.
In my case, my friend’s mother became my Facebook buddy, commenting from a distance, always supportive, never judgmental. She was, as before, simply extending the net of friendship and comfort that the Everymom always does.