Lily is elated that both Tia Nedra and Tia Phyllis sent her happy birthday wishes, and says to thank you. She is also happy that we noticed her designer outfit: her classy jeans, and her shoes. Tia Nedra, the shoes are a very popular Brazilian brand called Melissa, and if there are no Melissa stores in Rochester Lily invites you to come to Panama City and she will personally take you to Melissa and help you pick out a pair.
I am delighted at these relationships that come about through the blog. For Lily, the interest of older professional women enlarge her world and add to the unfailing support she gets from her mother, Rufina. Rufina, as I’ve said before, earns my enormous respect for supporting her daughter in a life path that is very different from that of most of her cousins and different from the life Lily would have led had she stayed in the village. I know Rufina wishes she could see her daughter every day, as most mothers in the village do. Rufina rarely goes into the city, and she has time with Lily only when Lily can come home for the weekend — not a given, since her job as chief pharmacist for Arrocha often involves weekend shifts.
But there are large parts of Lily’s life that are inaccessible to Rufina, simply because she hasn’t had the experience. Our support for Lily affirms her choices, celebrates her competence in forging an independent life in the city, and enlarges her sense of what’s possible in the world. Noticing her clothing choices, caring about her birthday, are part of that thing I call “mothering presence” — and in my view, there’s no limit on the value of mothering presence offered and received.