Snowflakes in France

Reflections of a 20-something woman in publishing

Category: Family

Coffee shop mommies

I open the door and squeeze in between strollers, the smell of coffee and friendly chatter replacing the rumble of buses and cars on the street. My eyes wander across the strollers with wispy blond hair escaping from underneath blankets and hats, mothers greeting each other and other women wearing expensive looking sweatpants.

How my morning coffee spot has become the Mommy Coffee place rather than the more typical Morning Suit Coffee locale, I’m really not sure. But I’m definitely the only one wearing a pencil skirt and tights.

I nod to the owner, indicating that I’d like the usual. Coffee with milk, no sugar. And while it’s true that this is my favorite coffee in town, I’m not sure I would come here at 9 a.m. every morning if I wasn’t on my way to work.

Saturdays, vacation days, even sick days for me are an opportunity to sleep in, spend more time at home with the dog, read my Kindle on the sunny third floor. Why is it that these women leave the house? It’s cold outside, the coffee shop is packed, and while it does allow dogs and has free wi-fi, none of these women are taking advantage of those two features.

Maybe, like me, they just like good coffee. But I can’t help but wonder if it’s something that happens when women have children — that they just need to get out of the house for some adult company? Or do they want to show off their fancy strollers and the luxury of being able to wear sweatpants at 9 a.m. on a weekday, of being clearly well provided for without having to work.

The shop owner and I exchange coffee for a handful of quarters and I step back out onto the street with the suits.

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Bosom Buddies

“A bosom friend–an intimate friend, you know–a really
kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul.  I’ve
dreamed of meeting her all my life.  I never really supposed
I would, but so many of my loveliest dreams have come true
all at once that perhaps this one will, too.  Do you think
it’s possible?”

-Anne of Green Gables

Jennifer and I traded secrets in the plastic playhouse in her backyard when we were seven years old, banning our younger sisters as we drank imaginary tea and pinky swore that we would be bridesmaids at each others’ weddings.

Giggling back and forth between our houses on Davis Street, we watched as our moms both grew pregnant in 1993, we looked pretty together in our little white communion dresses, I wept when her dog died and we hugged tightly when she moved across town to a new house. I had had friends before her, but she was my first best friend.

And then I moved to Kentucky, about 7 hours away.

It’s easy to make new friends, and I did. But each of them always had an older friend, a friend who had been there years before me. That friend knew her when her parents were together, cut her bangs behind the house with scissors and cried when her first dog died. That friend had always been her best friend, she couldn’t be replaced.

Jenn just got married this year. I’ve looked at the wedding photos on Facebook and wonder if we still would have been friends. I think of the girls I’ve known in Kentucky, and how many of us have grown apart in just five or six years. Would Jenn and I have possibly survived 17?

But then again, my sisters and I have survived that long. Jenn’s bridesmaids were her two sisters and three other girls. A mirror of my own bridal party in April. I’ve trusted my secrets to my two sisters for their entire lives; they are my oldest friends. They’ll be standing up there with me, just as Jenn’s sisters were, just as Jenn and I promised that we would have if we were still friends.

Sisters

Giving Thanks

When Thanksgiving practically throws a topic into my lap to blog about, I guess I should come out of hiding and get writing. I’ve been drafting a Christmas list of things that I want, so to balance it out, here’s the list of things I already have that I’m thankful for:

1. Jon, for being everything I always wished for in a man: Smart and funny with soft eyes, a sense of financial responsibility, impressive social skills, a kind heart and dashing good looks; and for being there for me.

2. A Practical Wedding, which is so much more than a wedding blog, for providing a meeting spot for supportive women to gather, a modern Red Tent if you will.

3. My family, who have graciously accepted and encouraged my life choices, even though it has meant that I am now 1,000 miles away and marrying a man they hardly know.

4. Books, in their many formats, for giving me knowledge, entertainment, some cozy home decor, and a job. Seriously, what would I do without them?

5. Friends — far-flung, back home and down the block — for their advice, for laughs, for listening and for the small moments they’ve shared with me.

Cheers and apple pie! (Oooh, did I mention that I’m also thankful for food and holiday cocktails?)

On dresses

From Alabama Chanin

That dress. It looks like peace and simplicity. And please click through here and take a closer look at those details. Awe. My dress designer (a gal who basically grew up as a sister to me) pointed me in this direction and asked if I liked the aesthetic of Alabama Chanin. Ummm…yes.

So that’s the beginning of the inspiration for my dress. The feeling it gives off in its simplicity.

Meanwhile, I need to say something about Mother-of-the-Bride dresses. Do people actually buy those? Do they love their mothers?

The Rose Dress, featured on TheKnot.com

All of these designers came out of the woodworks and started making cute, fun, wearable dresses for bridesmaids: LulaKate, The Dessy Group, J Crew, Simple Silhouettes; and they forgot about the mothers!

At least they got it off to a good start with the bridesmaids. I tried on some of LulaKate’s collection over the weekend and love it! This dress fit beautifully and should be a winner:

The Important Details

I’ve read a lot about the Wedding Industrial Complex (WIC) and how its expectations make weddings expensive and difficult, and make happy, reasonable couples turn into bride/groom zillas. So I knew from the beginning to try to avoid those snares.

But the truth is, with or without the WIC, weddings are just hard, and they will present challenges to the happy couple.

We want a big wedding. Not big as in fancy, over-the-top, designer big. I just want a lot of people there. All 113 people on my mother’s guest wish-list are very near and dear to me. My fiance’s mother has 9 brothers and sisters, so his family list is about the same if not longer. I went them there, I want our friends around us, and I want children to attend (what’s a wedding without kids swirling on the dance floor?).

I want it to be a Catholic wedding. (We’re both Catholic, but I think I feel more strongly about this than he does.)

And we’d like to be married next Spring.

That’s about it. Bring on the paper plates, mis-matched decor and a friend-made wedding dress. It’s the people who make the party.

But my expenses just to make this thing Catholic already add up to an unbudgeted $700 with a lot of strings attached. Including: the wedding must be at least a year after the engagement. What?! So we found a venue that had an opening during one weekend next May. They were booked for June, booked for July. We sure squeezed that proposal in on time.

Then I find out that my sister’s high school graduation is on the very same weekend. She’s a maid-of-honor. And she’s my sister! Not to mention that my mom’s family had a baby boom in 1993, so I have three cousins who might also have graduation that weekend.

Expensive? You betcha. Challenging? Umm…yes. But it’s challenges like this that force us to think about what is important. High school graduation. Important. My sister’s presence at my wedding. Super Important. Following the year preparation requirement, even if it means we might have to wait until August/September 2011? Suddenly a Catholic wedding is not so important to me. (Maybe a Thanksgiving wedding this year would be nice, hehe!)

Here’s to tough wedding planning that helps us grow, that makes us choose, that bridges the gap into adulthood. And although I’m a sucker for staitionary designs and cute bridesmaid dresses, here’s to realizing and focusing on what’s important to us, and just not every little detail that the WIC throws at us.