Today’s guest blogger, Alexandra Stoddard, is the author of more than 25 books including Things I Want My Daughters to Know, an acclaimed interior designer, and philosopher of contemporary living. In her latest book, The Shared Wisdom of Mothers and Daughters: The Timelessness of Simple Truths (on sale now) Stoddard reflects on lessons learned from raising her two daughters, time spent with her grandchildren, and quotes from a few of her favorite philosophers. Today she describes how she finds grace in day-to-day experiences with her family.
Since I wrote Things I Want My Daughters to Know back in 2004 there has been enormous change in the lives of my two daughters—Alexandra and Brooke. Both of them are now loving, nurturing mothers, teaching their own children, my grandchildren, all the things they want them to know, much the same way I tried to teach my girls when they were young.
The Shared Wisdom of Mothers and Daughters is a sort of homage to their growth and the profoundly positive evolution of our relationship. The mutual respect and deep appreciation that has developed as they’ve matured into their full adult selves is inspiring.
Recently my husband Peter and I were visiting Alexandra on a weekend when she’d planned to attend a party. So that Saturday night, Peter and I offered to watch our precious grandchildren—Anna, Nicholas, and Lily—and have our own celebration.
When their parents went upstairs to bathe and dress for their dinner party, Anna ordered us all Chinese takeout, then she and Lily set a beautiful table, using their favorite pink-and-green placemats and matching napkins. When the food arrived, Nicholas helped me unpack the containers and serve everyone. We ate with chopsticks and there was laughter all around as we struggled to keep hold of some of the more slippery items. At that moment, Peter and I knew we were in the best possible company.
After our happy meal together, the kids helped us with the dishes and set the table for breakfast. I was amazed. They were all so well trained! Then, after several more hours of fun, at 9:30 pm sharp, they kissed us goodnight and went to bed. And I thought to myself: is this a dream?
Then I realized that not only are my daughters thriving, but so are all of our grandchildren, for just the night before we had been in New York City visiting my other daughter, Brooke, and her daughter, Cooper. I remember feeling a poignant sense of appreciation in that moment, grateful in the knowledge that things are not just working out well—our family is living beautifully and everyone is thriving. What more can a mother hope for than to have her children and their children live full lives and have a lot of fun in the process?
As mothers, we all know nothing is automatic or guaranteed. No matter how hard we try, things can and do go wrong in these seminal relationships. But when things work out, it’s cause for great celebration. These simple but profound moments of rightness are the inspiration for The Shared Wisdom of Mothers and Daughters.