Rise and Shine Breakfast celebrates 'a strong community of women' and daughters
The first year of Caroline Ford’s life was unique.
“I think it is safe to say that Caroline is the only one who spent the first year of her life on the chapter room floor of the Chi Omega sorority house being watched by a rotating cast of Chi Omegas,” said her mother, Mary Cady Bolin, the keynote speaker at Harpeth Hall’s Rise and Shine breakfast.
As a single mom raising a daughter and finishing her senior year at Vanderbilt University, Mrs. Bolin learned a very important lesson that she would carry with her throughout motherhood: “Mother daughter relationships need community. We weren’t meant to navigate this relationship just on our own. I believe we are meant to do it in the company of other women.”
On Nov. 7, upper school students gathered along with their mothers and other special women in their lives in the Athletics and Wellness Center for the Rise and Shine Breakfast. Students recited poetry, performed orchestral and choral music, and paid tribute to the moms in the audience. This room of women represented the power of community championed by Mrs. Bolin.
Reflecting on her years raising Caroline as a single mother, Ms. Bolin found moments of brightness during difficult times. From eating Lean Cuisine dinners together in a shark-shaped tent set up in their too-small hallway to adopting a betta fish named Swimmy Tiger Scooby Doo in lieu of a dog, Ms. Bolin found comfort in the pure, spontaneous joy and creativity of her daughter. Likewise, Caroline found inspiration in the strength of her mother.
“Throughout my life, my mother has been courageous. She never saw any challenges that came her way as a roadblock. She has always managed to provide the best she could for me,” said Caroline, now a senior at Harpeth Hall. “I cannot imagine where I would be today without my mother. I am incredibly thankful for all she has done.”
“Sometimes when people hear Caroline’s and my’s story, they’ll say ‘Wow, you were so alone when she was younger,’” Mrs. Bolin
said. “What they don’t know is that we were never, ever, ever alone.”
She had Caroline and she had her community.
“Sometimes this community looks like camaraderie. ... Sometimes it looks like support. Sometimes it looks like friendship,” said Mrs. Bolin, who is also the mother to 6th grade student Harper Bolin.
At Harpeth Hall, these three tenets characterizing community can be seen in the relationships between students and their friends, the bonds they create with their teachers, and in the welcoming environment created across grades. From the first day a Harpeth Hall girl walks on campus, she is forming the ties that will allow her to grow, to lead, to learn, and to support others throughout her life.
Senior Gracie Sloan has built her own support system with her mother over the years. This year, her senior year at Harpeth Hall, is the last year she and her mom, Academic Technology Specialist Karre Sloan, will spend their days in the same place. Since elementary school, Mrs. Sloan has always worked at Gracie's school.
Together, Mrs. Sloan and Gracie have shared their respective career and academic journeys and watched each other grow, succeed, and accomplish goals. For Gracie, this special experience allowed her to see her mom not only as a role model for herself, but also for others. As she looks towards the future, to what is to come after graduation, Gracie is grateful for her mother and the guidance she has provided to her and her peers.
“At a time when we have so many doors open,” Gracie said. “We have these special women helping us find the right door to walk through.”
Gracie and her mother exemplify Ms. Bolin’s belief that daughters are some of the few people who truly see who their mothers are.
“We have all had times when we felt tired and inadequate and scared. We’ve looked into the eyes of our mothers and daughters because they know us better than nearly anyone. They have not seen what we felt at the moment, but instead they have seen who we really are,” Mrs. Bolin said. “Where I felt weak, Caroline saw the strength of a mom who was doing it all herself. Where I felt scattered, Caroline saw a mom who got her where she needed to be on time. Where I felt overworked, Caroline saw a mom who made time for dance parties and ‘Berenstain Bears’ books. ... Mothers and daughters have to have a strong community of women who build each other up and remind each other what we are so capable of achieving.
“There comes a time when our daughters hear what we are saying but they look around to have it affirmed by their peers and others. That is where the community of Harpeth Hall has become so sacred for us.”
Reasons Why I Love You by Wesley Cook ‘23
Your unnecessary use of emojis,
the way you braid my hair,
your magical hands that aid me when I'm sick,
the smell of your perfume that immediately calms me,
your laugh that infectiously travels to everyone in the room,
the way you can make the worst situations become fun memories,
the extra steps you take just to make me smile,
your creative attempts to persuade me to do things I don't want to do,
the way a lost item will take me hours to find but only a couple of seconds for you,
your smile that always makes me feel loved,
your bubbly personality that everyone remembers,
for being my mom.