Dear Stoneslide Corrective,
Yes, it is all too true. [Advice to Expectant Mothers.]
I am uncool and unfashionable as can be, according to my 13-year-old daughter. And even, sometimes, my son.
Thank you, Stoneslide, for clarifying my position.
It was not always like this. There was a time they came running to me when I entered the door, rushing to my arms, their voices trembling with excitement. “Mommy, Mommy!” That stopped a while ago. I got a dog so someone would greet me.
There was a time they told me everything. There was a time I hoped. What did I hope for? For all this to continue, unbearable as it sometimes was to live in those moments.
But things are okay now. They cannot take the car keys yet, but live in that netherworld between childhood and adulthood. The netherhood.
The boy eats too much sugar and bounces off the walls, and the couch, and the dog, and his sister, and his sister’s friends, and makes us crazy. But then he’ll come back and tell me he loves me and give me a huge hug. All is forgiven then. And I mean, all, including his first six months of projectile vomiting and yelling in my ear nonstop for three hours every evening. A hug is everything. Even when I have to get it from the dog, but the dog has no arms and can only endure mine. Of course, my husband is home at night, but I must sustain myself during the day!
The girl, when she emerges from behind her door, I can observe. She does not voluntarily hug me, not under any circumstances. On Wednesdays, the short day at school, she and her friends collect deli sandwiches and Starbucks on their way home and come to our house. They are all lovely girls. They sit around the kitchen table for the rest of the afternoon eating, talking, snapchatting and hashtagging with more friends, doing homework. “Of course I know what a hashtag is!” I say. “And you’re not supposed to use it in real spoken conversation. Jeez!” Of course, I won’t admit it but I don’t really know what they mean when they talk about hashtags.
Last week a couple of the girls showed up in advance of my daughter and I let them in. I was having lunch myself at the table just then. When my daughter arrived with the rest of the group she glared at me (that’s our fun way of communicating). I said I could eat lunch there, too, and suddenly I was conscious of my faded, dog-hair-covered work-out clothes and sneakers, my hair still clipped haphazardly on top of my head from pilates class, and the discomfiting question came to mind: if I were their age at school, would they let me sit with them at lunch?
I got up and busied myself in the kitchen, feeling very domestic after ignoring the dishes the whole first part of the day. “I’m a mom, I’m a mom,” I said over and over in my head, to calm myself. Because I knew the answer.
My mom friends sometimes tell me: “Don’t listen to your kids, you are cool! You’re a fabulous mom and person!” Do they really mean it? But it doesn’t really matter. I am my kids’ mom, and I’m there for them.
“No offense, Mom,” my daughter said, watching me across the kitchen, “but you might want to try skinny jeans. Also,” she continues, “no offense, but your hair is too curly.”
She’s only 13. The car keys are still mine.
-Lisa Meltzer Penn,
Read Lisa Meltzer Penn’s bio.
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