For years, people would tell my mom and I how much we remind them of Lorelei and Rory Gilmore of Gilmore Girls fame.
We would always smile and nod along, but shrug our shoulders and admit we had actually never watched the show, aside from catching the occasional five minutes of it here or there in reruns on ABC Family. “What?” people would always cry out. “But you’re just like them! You’re mother-daughter best friends!”
It’s true my mom and I are incredibly close. But, there are some key differences between us and the more famous pair, of course. My parents are happily married, and my dad had always been an active and loving part of my life, unlike Rory’s flighty dad Christopher. And we have an additional decade, give or take, between us.
But, the similarities in our dynamic were one we couldn’t deny: The slightly kooky mom and the brainy daughter, the allegiance to pop culture and culinary vices, the intimacy and closeness.
Finally, one year when I was in high school, I bought my mom the box set of Gilmore Girls season one for Mother’s Day. We decided we would watch every episode of the series together, beginning with that first season. We had a bit of a slow start, squeezing in time with our alter-egos here and there. But once the series was added to Netflix, our expansive binge-watch propelled forward with more focused urgency.
After years of watching every single episode together, my mom and I finally reached our final moments in Star Hollow a few months ago. Now that we’ve finished, I realize I’ve learned a few things.
1. Nobody can eat like a Gilmore. And nobody should. But you can eat like you.
Sure, my mom and I are big snackers, but I don’t think anyone can match Lorelai and Rory. Pop Tarts every day? Take-out from six different restaurants all at once? No thanks. But of course, we’ve always had our own go-to feel-good foods. Just as the Gilmores would devour Chinese from Al’s Pancake House, my mom and I would eat our favorite salmon-avocado rolls and chocolate-covered everythings from Trader Joe’s. Everyone has their own guilty pleasure, and it’s good to indulge in the ways that make you, and your mom, happy.
2. Moms before schlongs.
I’ve already talked at length about the importance of female friendship, and friendships with moms most definitely fall into this category. I struggle, though, with referring to my mom as a ho, so I’m going with my new phrase “moms before schlongs.” It’s certainly not elegant, but it gets the point across.
Whenever Rory has boy trouble, Lorelai is there to hold her as she cries. Watching Gilmore Girls as a teenager and young adult in her early 20s gave me plenty of moments to draw parallels between Rory’s love life and mine; my soft spot for Logan can most definitely be attributed to the similarities I saw between him and the guy I was seeing during his juiciest story arcs. I also saw my mom in Lorelai, remembering that her unwavering love and support is so truly important to me.
3. Mother-daughter relationships are not perfect.
Lorelai and Rory fight. And, oh boy, do my mom and I fight. It’s a side effect of the close relationship. We get all the good things about each other, but we also get the bad. So, some sparks inevitably fly when push comes to shove. It happens, and it’s ok. Sometimes Rory needs some time living in Richard and Emily’s pool house. My mom and I have our version of the pool house. And it’s ok, because after we take some space, I always end up coming back home.
4. Life sometimes gets in the way.
Lorelai and Rory seem to have all the time in the world to take off from work or school to lounge together. But, we don’t all go to school just a half-hour from home, and we don’t have all the free time in the world to watch movies (or early 2000s dramedy series). It took my mom and I years to finish the series, squeezing in time together over holiday breaks between dinners with my friends and weekend trips and other TV to watch.
I graduated from college and moved to another state, all while still being tied to finishing Gilmore Girls with my mom. But, through all the changes over the years, both the series was always there, a warm reminder that even more so my mom was always there. And no matter what life has thrown in the way, the time we set aside for us was so meaningful.
So, after finishing the series, what’s the verdict? Are my mom and I just like Lorelai and Rory? Well, there are definitely some mother-daughter pearls of wisdom to be gleaned from the show, some universal truths that resonate deeply. But we definitely don’t talk as fast as they do, and we don’t eat as many Pop Tarts, and we talk way more about our feelings. I guess there’s a little bit of Lorelai and Rory in us. But, we’re not characters—we’re Renee and Sarah, and that’s even better.