Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Team Edward's Cougar Den: The movie version of New Moon will have moms purring

New Moon opens on Friday! The following essay, which I wrote as a walk-up to the movie's release, was featured at on Monday. (Here's the link to that fun website.) BettyConfidential titled the article "Confessions of a Mom who loves Twilight." I'm fine with that, even though the piece isn't just about me. Really, I have company in this addiction.

If all goes as planned, I will have seen the film version of New Moon, the second book in Stephenie Meyer’s teenage-vampire romance series, twice by 3 p.m. on the movie’s November 20 opening day. After attending the midnight premiere with hoards of screaming teenage girls and young women, and several of my friends (mostly 40-something mothers), I’ll join another pal at the first daytime show, which, since we’re both underemployed and job hunting, we’ll attend while our children and most teens are at school. Like other Twilight devote├ęs, I bought my tickets weeks in advance.

In the 12 months since I was clued into the Twilight phenomenon (yes, I was a latecomer), I’ve determined that Twilight’s older readers call ‘em the 30-plus crowd fall into two camps beyond the typical Team Edward and Team Jacob divisions.

In the first camp are the women who are not just smitten, but consumed by Edward and Bella’s romance. (And they likely have a deep crush on Edward Cullen, especially as depicted by actor Robert Pattinson, 23, which they can justify as being non-creepy because the forever 17-year-old Edward is actually more than 100 years old.) These “pumas” and “cougars” read all four books in a matter of days. They’ve seen Twilight, the first movie, multiple times. They’ve downloaded the PDF of Midnight Sun, Meyer’s partial manuscript of Twilight from Edward’s point of view, and they’re likely furious about the author’s decision to not finish the book because her artistic integrity was violated when someone she trusted leaked the draft. (Oh, pu-leeze, Stephenie, get over it already. Finish Midnight Sun and then retell the three other books in Edward’s voice. He’s so much more interesting than Bella!)

Once all official Twilight paths have been traveled, these seemingly mature women join Twilight chat rooms, watch Twilight trailers and fan-made films on YouTube, and search the Internet for articles like this one about mothers who are obsessed with all things Twilight.

In the other camp are the women who, even though they read at least the first book or saw the first movie, remain unmoved by the stories and are actually getting on with their lives.

Teenagers and other young women who have crushes on Edward (or Jacob, or the actors who play them) are enthralled by the fantasy, and the possibility of themselves finding true love. Their enthusiasm isn’t hard to understand. But my mom-friend Darlene has a theory about why some grown women are, as Bella declares about herself, “unconditionally and irrevocably in love with” Edward Cullen, and why others don’t succumb to his charms.

“The women who love Edward and Twilight are the ones who had a passionate love affair when they were younger,” explains Darlene. According to her theory, Twilight takes them back to those feelings — of wanting someone so badly and being wanted by him, of feeling desired, cared for, protected. Women who never had those passionate feelings can’t relate in the same way to Edward and Bella’s love story. “They don’t miss what they never had,” she says. “We miss what we had.”

That last part is the rub — “what we had.” I was 19 when I met my husband, he was 20. So much of Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn reminds me of our shared moments: the initial infatuation and hesitancy to get involved, the push-and-pull to change or not change the other person, the private moments and celebrations, the struggles and battles of will, the forced separations and the reunions. In the course of daily, grown-up life, it becomes hard for couples to remember life before babies and bosses, bills and to-do lists, beer bellies and drooping boobs.

(Okay, yuck, sorry about that last unpleasant image. Quick, get it out of your head by looking at this picture of Edward / Rob Pattinson!)

As for the other part of Darlene’s theory that the Twilight-immune are passion deprived — I’ve since found myself wondering about the past and present love lives of those who can resist. In some cases, I think Darlene might be right.

I know that seeing the New Moon movie will reignite the addiction I shook only a few months ago, but I won’t be alone. I’ve made friends — both through the Internet and in person — with dozens of women who can’t quit Edward. And I enjoy the multi-generational commonality among the Twilight obsessed. I can talk minutia about the books and films and soundtracks with everyone from my friends’ tween and teen daughters to the college-age girls I work with at my part-time job. Seeing my enthusiasm, my mature-beyond-her-seven-years Bella-lookalike daughter (really!) is interested in the characters and my recitation of the stories.

I also take great comfort in the kind words of my 17-year-old neighbor, Lexi, who, when I mocked my fascination with the books, especially since they were written for teenage girls, said, “Oh, no, the books are for you. Stephenie Meyer is a mom and she wrote the stories for herself as much as she did for people my age.”

Yes, Lexi, she did. (And you go right on thinking that the 35-year-old Stephenie Meyer and I are the same age.)

P..S. Check out the Twilight: New Moon opening weekend chat fest at

Monday, November 16, 2009

Upcoming Book: "Courageous Parenting"

I am honored to have been selected to write a chapter for Amy Tiemann's upcoming anthology Courageous Parents, Confident Kids, which will be published in April by Spark Press. Amy, who is the author of Mojo Mom: Nurturing Yourself While Raising a Family (that's her website logo, at left), has welcomed me into an awesome line-up of smart, mom-oriented parenting writers that includes Joanne Bamberger, author of, Joan Blades and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, founders of and Emily McKhann and Cooper Munroe, creators of

I'll post more about Courageous Parents, Confident Kids as we get closer to its release. In the meantime, please check out Amy's podcast interviews with the book's contributors. Here's the link to her interview with me about my chapter, Having the Courage to Become Your Own Parenting "Expert."


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