What my mama gave me (besides the straight eyelashes)

Earlier this month, my mom and I went to a bridal shower together. We were one of several pairs of Mother & Daughter, but it was the first time I’ve ever attended an event with my mother and not felt like she was only present because I was or the other way around. She wasn’t there to be my chaperone. I wasn’t there because she didn’t have time to drop me off at home first. We received two separate invitations at our two separate homes and brought two separate gifts accompanied by two separate poems (the poems were Mom’s idea).

I’ve heard my mother called by her own name by other adults my whole life, but it totally threw me off to hear us introduced as “Emily” and “Elizabeth” and not “Emily and Elizabeth” or “Elizabeth and Emily.” The other guests kept talking to us like we were two separate entities, two separate people. Was it not clear that we were together? Maybe I should have pointed out that we arrived in the same car.

It was a bridal shower game that outed us as “Emily and Elizabeth,” unmistakably Mother and Daughter. Each guest dumped out her purse and tallied up its contents according to a list that gave a score for each item. Stamps, pens, mints, pain killers, lipstick, sunglasses, the keys to someone else’s house, and the like were all worth 5-25 points to the person hauling them around.

After taking inventory, we started scoring with a show of hands: “Who has 10 points? Who has 20? 30?” Hands started to drop as the total climbed past 70 points. Only four or five women had 100 points-worth of stuff in their bags. The last three standing were the bride’s grandmother, my mom, and me.

“Who has 130?” Grandmother-of-the-Bride lowered her fingers. A knowing groan rolled through the room as my mom and I stared each other down.

“Anybody have more than 140 points?” Mom couldn’t hack it. She dropped her arm as I raised my other one in victory, waving my winning item like a trophy.

My eyelash curler was worth 50 points and it was the only one at the party.

“You carry that with you everywhere?” Not even my own mother could believe it.

When we got in the car to go home—together!—my mom said, “I don’t know why I bothered to dump out my whole purse. I knew exactly what was in there.” I think I could have guessed the contents of my mother’s bag, myself. That’s where I get all my stamps.