In junior high, I didn’t quite understand Gilmore Girls. The characters chattering a mile a minute. Mother and daughter bonding over Twinkies, The Donna Reed Show, and sharing tales of boy drama. Now, though I’ve only skipped through reruns on ABC Family (and definitely not chronologically), the television series holds more significance.
No, I’m not an only child living with a single mother. No, my mother and I don’t often pass as sisters (although through high school we did enjoy sharing wardrobes and shoes). No, my mother doesn’t rebel against my grandmother over weekly Friday dinners. Rather, I can better relate to the way that Rory connects with her mom Lorelai—the way she confides in, argues with, and loves her.
My mom and I are Gilmore Girl-close. I can turn to her with the conversations I find hard to hold with even a best friend. She loves getting involved with (I dare say meddling in) my life, like accompanying me to all of my 20+ college campus visits during my senior year of high school. We are both stubborn (you know the expression, “like mother like daughter”), and so arguments sprout from the most inconsequential disagreements. But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Christy Whitman, a motivational speaker and co-founder of the Mother Daughter Empowerment Summit that took place last year, recognizes the importance of the relationship between mother and child as the most important in the child’s life, but even more so for a girl. Girls learn from mom through observation, how she approaches money, beauty, and stress. “Young girls look to their moms to see, ‘Who am I in the world?’ and ‘How do I respond to things in the world?’” she says.
Strengthening this relationship starts with acceptance. “The relationship will be very healthy and successful if both the mother and daughter respect each other,” Whitman explains. To pull from Gilmore Girls, Rory and Lorelai had a strongly positive relationship because they each accepted the other as she was, while Lorelei’s mom was introduced in the series’ beginning as strict and always holding high expectations for her daughter. (The two began to truly mend their relationship in the first season when Emily offered the girls pudding as a dessert, recognizing that her daughter prefers the simple treat to something fancier.)
And with this acceptance comes happiness, Whitman explains. “For a college student coming from a place where she feels good about herself and happy in her own life, her whole entire outer reality is going to bring you positive things,” she says. Happiness will translate into love relationships, success in and out of college, and positive family relationships.
Once you secure this positive relationship, college will make you work to maintain it despite the possible distance from home. For tips on how to love mom from campus, check out what works for the Her Campus staff!
- Add minutes to your phone plan: Take some time to call home, like on your ten-minute commutes between classes. “Now that I am in college, my mom and I talk every single day after I wake up and walk outside headed to my first class, the gym, or somewhere to do work,” Her Campus writer Aylin Erman says. “I update her on everything, let her know I'm alive, and tell her what's coming up.”
Moms love the latest news and notification that you’ve survived final exams, at the very least. If you only have those ten minutes to talk, though, Her Campus writer Rachel Dozier suggests letting mom know when you’re walking and when you’ll need to go. “I love my mom to death, but sometimes I can't get her off the phone,” she says. Rachel also tries to call close to once a day, and not just when her bank account is low.
- Increase face time: Visiting home on breaks and vacations is optional—you could stay at school, go home with a friend, or road trip like it was spring break. But by going home on summer breaks or on a free weekend, you shrink the distance that’s put in place now that you’re out of the house and in college. You’re not seeing her everyday anymore, but visiting may ease the transition, especially in your first couple of years.
For Her Campus writer Cassie Potler, the effort is mutual. “She also tries to come visit when she can,” says Cassie, who lives only about two and a half hours from school. “One time, when I was really sick, she drove here for the day just to take care of me. It was so sweet!”
- Ask for advice: Moms have been through it all before, as mine likes to kindly remind me, and are available to share their wisdom. Cassie, for one, turns to her mom for everything: “She had the answers when I wanted to know where the tooth fairy lived. She had the answers when I got my license and never knew which highway led to where. She has the answers when it comes to boys, friendship, school, and my career.” Asking for advice lets mom know you respect and value her opinion.
- Embrace the e-mail: Communication has improved immensely—imagine sending correspondence home via a messenger on horse! With e-mail, this connection is only a click away. When you don’t have the time for a full conversation to catch up on life, just dropping a line in an e-mail lets mom know you’re thinking of her. “I use technology much more with her than I used to with [my mom]. She has a BlackBerry now, which makes sending the occasional text or email much easier,” Her Campus writer Gennifer Delman says.
“Whenever I get an exciting email from a professor or a job or even Her Campus, I forward it to her so she can stay updated on what's going on in my life!” Cassie says.
Added bonus: it won’t disrupt her sleep when you want to say hello on college hours (anytime past 11 p.m.).
- Return to traditions: Picking up where you left off is an excellent way to keep your relationship with mom—but sometimes it’ll require a bit of tweaking. For example, in my high school days and increasingly during my first summer before college, my mom and I shared weight routines and scheduled strength-training days. Our soundtrack: The Best of the Rolling Stones. (Even my cat Cami knew it was time to stretch when she heard the opening riff to the CD’s first track, “Start Me Up.”) Nearly three hundred miles and five hours of distance between the university and home make it a little more impossible to coordinate our weight sessions anymore, so the relationship has changed. Now during the year when we’re separated, she’ll mail me the latest workout routines clipped from our fitness magazine subscriptions, and we’ll share food logs and recipes to keep each other on track.
- Celebrate moments together: Make the most of the moments you share together, now that they are fewer and farther apart. Take the time to do something you both love! For Her Campus co-founder Windsor Hanger, her bonding time with her mom means pedicures and pretty toes. For Her Campus co-founder Stephanie Kaplan, it’s scouring the bargain sales. “We'll spend hours tearing through the racks at Loehmann's and Filene's Basement,” she says, “and we know each other's tastes so well that we always come up with amazing finds!”
So our traditions have tweaked to accommodate separation, and yes, dynamics have changed as we become adults. But I have learned my mom will always be my mom. I will always be her daughter. And she will always do everything in her power to ease my stress or my pain, meaning I’m never too old for hugs. And Gennifer sums up our Mommy love so perfectly: “Having a strong relationship with a parent is so important. It's clichéd, but true: Friends come and go, but family is forever.”
Christy Whitman, motivational speaker and co-founder of the Mother Daughter Empowerment Summit – www.7essentiallaws.com
Aylin Erman, Her Campus Contributing Writer
Rachel Dozier, Her Campus Contributing Writer
Cassie Potler, Her Campus Contributing Writer
Gennifer Delman, Her Campus Contributing Writer
Windsor Hanger, Her Campus Co-founder
Stephanie Kaplan, Her Campus Co-founder