We all need moms. Even if you lived with your Grandma or some other relative, you had a woman in your life that filled the maternal category. She might not have been your biological mother, but she nurtured you and cared for you. After eighteen years of having that figure in your life, it’s a hard transition to go off to college and not have that maternal presence in your life anymore. They care for you. They worry about you. They watch out for you. They make you feel safe, even in the worst situations. And they love you in spite of all your flaws.
I missed my mom when I went away to school. I missed having someone in my life constantly caring for me. Maybe this just shows that I am the baby of my family, but whatever. I love to be nurtured—yolo.
For a whole year I ran around like most freshman do. No one could tell me what to do, and those who tried I laughed at. I was nineteen and totally mom free.
Then I met Chelsea. I was a sophomore and she was a senior. The year before I became friends with all of her friends, while she was drunkenly stumbling through Rome for the semester—I mean studying hard while abroad. When she got back everyone called her mom, and to be honest I didn’t get it. She wasn’t my mom. She wasn’t even older than the people calling her that. Why was she dubbed this title? She didn’t seem all that maternal to me.
One Saturday night Chelsea and I were sitting on a faux-leather couch in the dark of our friends’ apartment. She pulled out her lip-gloss and applied it evenly, then made a smacking noise with her lips. Then she looked at me, and without hesitation or warning, she applied it to my lips as well. “This is why they call me mom,” she said so deadpan, in this lazy voice that only comes after too much beer.
After that night I always called her mom, and I suddenly understood why everyone else did too. It wasn’t just the ’97 Nisan Quest that she drove that made her seem like a mom. She wouldn’t put up with our shit. She put us in our place when we needed it. And she loved us in spite of it all. She cared for us in a maternal way, she knew what was best for us before we did, and she never shied away from giving us advice, even if we didn’t ask for it.
I thought when she graduated I would be mom-free at school. I thought that maybe because I was a junior I didn’t need that figure in my life anymore, at least not while I was an undergrad.
I was wrong.
Andy was rightfully dubbed the title of mom by her roommates after she made them do the dishes when they were “in trouble”. She treated them like a mom would treat her kids. She had them do chores. She was honest with them. She had this maternal energy, even when she was mad at you; you knew it was only because she loved you.
But when I first heard her roommates call her mom, I was apprehensive. Chelsea was mom. Andy was a year younger than me; it would feel weird to call her mom. Also she had to earn being called mom, you don’t just get a nickname like that.
But Andy did earn it. She is a master of tough love. She will be brutally honest with us, so we would know the mistakes we were about to make. She would help us get ready before going out, and tell us if our outfits were heinous or on point. She would give advice far beyond her years. She totally earned her role over the past three years.
Maybe everyone doesn’t need a “mom” friend, but I know that I do. It was nice to know I had someone who would fill that void in my life with my own mother so far away. And maybe now that I am out of college I don’t need a “mom” friend, but it’s still nice to have. I think there are a lot of people who play this role for us over the years; we might just not call them mom. But I think it is healthy to have a “mom” friend in your life; it keeps you honest, it reminds you that you’re loved and being cared for, and it keeps you accountable.