Friends: Sometimes Mothers Know Best

When I arrived at Middlebury College, I knew no one. The college did a reasonably good job of throwing freshmen together on a variety of activities, but friendships must develop at their own pace and in their own time.

The day we moved into the dorm, I was wearing a nice pants suit (double-knit polyester, of course, because it was 1973). I was dressed up because my father and I had flown across the country the day before, and in 1973, people from Good Families still dressed up to fly. My jeans were packed in my suitcase, and I didn’t change clothes until we had moved everything into the dorm room.

Unbeknownst to me, across the hall, a girl from New Jersey—already dressed in jeans—was unpacking her suitcases with her mother. Her mother spotted me all gussied up, and told her daughter, “Now that girl [me] is someone you should get to know. Look at her nice pants suit.”

New Jersey girl scoffed, “I’ll bet she’s stuck up. Why would she move into a dorm in a pants suit?”

S&T Midd 01-76 cropped

My friend and me, January 1976

A few days later, when parents were gone and Freshman Week was well underway, the New Jersey girl and I left the dorm for some event at the same time, both wearing jeans. We walked to the assembly hall together.

And we have been good friends now for over forty years.

Fast forward many years, to when my daughter was a preschooler. We were at a family outing for my husband’s law firm, with kids of various shapes and sizes milling about everywhere.

I tried to get my daughter to mingle with the other children. “Go play with the little H____ girls,” I said. The two little H____ girls had curly blond hair and matching summer dresses with ruffles. “Don’t they look cute?”

My daughter—never a frilly dresses kind of girl—scoffed at me, and refused to leave my side.

A decade later, she and the little H____ girls went to the same high school. My daughter and the older H____ girl were on the same cross-country team, and they became great friends. My daughter still hangs out at the H____ house when she comes home to visit. I’ve tried not to say, “I told you so.”

When has your mother been proven right about one of your friends?

Posted in Family, Philosophy and tagged , , , , , , .


  1. What a great story, Theresa. I really enjoyed it. I love your friends reaction to you moving in a pant suit…too funny. I miss the days where people used to leave their homes looking presentable. I swear I saw someone at the Post Officer recently in their pajamas. 🙁
    My mother is always right about everything, not just my choice of friends. 🙂

  2. Theresa this is written so well and I loved hearing about you in that dorm and the photo is precious. My mum was very wise she never told us who we should hang around because we probably wouldn’t have listened. She did explain why some people can be a bad influence. Having six sisters most of my best friends were family and we sisters would share friends. My longest running friendship is a gal who lived up the street from me, no matter how long its been when we get together it feels like it was yesterday. Such a lovely post thank you. Kath.

    • Kath, your mom was wise not to recommend friends.
      Like you, I have friends I don’t see for years, then it feels like yesterday when we do get together — a wonderful feeling.
      Thanks for the comment,

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