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Happy 20th Anniversary, ‘Gilmore Girls’ 

Could you use the Lorelei method in real life?

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main characters from Gilmore Girls, Lorelai and Rory, outside in the snow holding coffee by a newsstand
Saeed Adyani/Netflix
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Gilmore Girls (starring Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel) debuted on Oct. 5, 2000. I immediately loved the quick-paced, pop culture-laced banter between mom Lorelei (Graham) and her teenage daughter, Rory (Bledel.) I needed to talk slower my whole life, so these fast talkers were my people.           

Beyond the rapid conversation skills, I also related to the mother-daughter connection. When the show debuted, like Lorelei, I was also a mother in my 30s of two “Rorys” ages 5 and 2.

Watching the show, I found myself hoping that Lorelei and her daughter's relationship was something I could emulate when my girls were teenagers. Like Lorelei, I loved blueberry muffins, canned frosting and pancakes. Imagine how great it would be to indulge in junk food together, without fear of jeopardizing their health or mine? And after hours spent enduring The Wiggles and Barney marathons, I hoped that one day my kids would embrace ’80s classic movies like Diner and The Breakfast Club just like Rory. I didn’t want to be the type of mom that nagged her daughters to eat their vegetables, do their homework or take out the trash. I’d much prefer to spend our evenings laughing and drinking coffee at the local diner.

Would it be possible to use the Lorelei method in real life? Could I raise strong, intelligent, kind women without ever having to be authoritative? Would they brush their teeth, get good grades and, most importantly, be kind people without rules, bedtimes and chore charts? And would they want to hang out with me all the time if I was a “cool mom” like Lorelei?

Of course, the answer was no. Stars Hollow was magical but fictional. There is no “Lorelei Paradox” that allows you to eat toaster strudel and canned frosting daily without causing bloating, zits or cavities. In real life, moms sometimes have to be the bad guy to raise a good person.

In many ways, my relationship with my daughters reminds me of the Gilmore Girls. There have been many days where we laugh together, discuss television shows and indulge Ben & Jerry’s together — and I am reminded of Lorelei and Rory’s easy repartee.

But there have been many other days where we have disagreed; where we have been on opposing sides, argued, screamed — even had to spend some time apart. In these moments, I am reminded of the other mother/daughter dynamic portrayed in the show. The one between Lorelei and her mother, Emily.

When I revisited the show in my late 40s when my kids were in high school, I found myself empathizing with matriarch Emily (Kelly Bishop.) Yes, she was rigid, prickly and a world-class snob. But she was human. The dynamic between Lorelei and Rory is supposed to be an illusion. It’s a blurry, mostly unattainable dream that we can be the exact opposite of our own parent and everything will work out great. But most moms have a bit of Emily in us. I know I do. We make mistakes, we struggle, we expect too much, we regret our choices, and sometimes we are too stubborn to apologize. Yet through all our missteps, we love our daughters (and our granddaughters) fiercely, and there is nothing we wouldn’t do for them.

It’s hard for me to believe it has been 20 years since Gilmore Girls debuted. It’s even harder to believe that my daughters are now adults, ages 25 and 22. And while I would never force a mandatory Friday night dinner like Emily Gilmore, there is nothing better than when they are here and all the seats at the table are filled. I’ve realized that being best friends with your daughter like Lorelei and Rory is overrated. Plenty of people can play that role. Instead, I’m grateful to be their one and only mom.