I was going to write about my daughter’s upcoming 14th birthday, an auspicious event that — I hear from many sources — will grant me entry into the “Despicable Mom” club.
Apparently, it happens all over the world. One day these darling little girls want to share information with their moms, try on their fancy dresses and high heels and act like little mommies when playing with dolls.
And then, poof, they wake up one day and hate all things related to motherhood. Especially the women who brought them into the world.
These formerly sweet young things roll their eyes. They sigh with exasperation. They question Mom’s fashion sense: “You aren’t going out wearing THAT, are you?” They embark on secret lives that take place via texts, Instagram posts and Snap Chats. Sneaky lives that depict Mom in a very unflattering light. They slam doors, leave tried-but-failed outfits in heaps on their bedroom floors and lock themselves in bathrooms for hours. At the school lunch table, outside lockers and in bus lines, they gather to discuss how stupid, mean and unreasonable their mothers have suddenly become.
If you don’t know a 14-year-old girl that fits that description, you haven’t looked very hard.
“Girls have to go through it,” my own mother said when I mentioned my dread. “Otherwise they would never move out. And you don’t want that, do you?”
Absolutely not. I love Pea enormously, but I do want her to go to college, launch a career, accomplish her goals and live happily ever after. Somewhere else.
My boys are very independent and the two that have entered college are doing very well…today. So, yes, I’m all about them moving on and out.
However, as it turns out, I may have a little more time with Pea by my side.
On Saturday, when my husband, Pea and our youngest son, Bodie, arrived at an 1830-ish bed and breakfast in Ohio, I looked at the fading woodwork, clouded windows and jagged rooftop and said, “Oooh, I hope it isn’t haunted.”
That was enough to send a certain super-mature, ready-for-makeup, high fashion and high school young lady into tears.
“I am NOT staying here,” she announced, planting herself, and her suitcase, in the middle of the root-rumpled sidewalk.
The rest of us mounted the steps and rang the bell. Pea reluctantly followed.
Our host, Tom, was anxious to tour us through the house and share a bit about its, and his late wife’s ancestors’, history. We learned about the vintage furniture, books and china, the house’s additions and the fact that the large eating area once served as an infirmary for the doctor who lived and worked there. Think Downton Abbey during World War I.
“Think about how many people must have died in this room,” Bodie said to Pea.
Later, Tom told us he had been running the place alone for a decade, ever since his wife had died of a heart attack. In her sleep. In that home.
That was the proverbial last straw. Pea was ready to call a cab and find her own lodging. However, the $8 in her backpack wouldn’t have taken her far.
We climbed the stairs to the third floor, where we had reserved both bedrooms, each with a double bed and a single cot. The knotty pine floors creaked, the rafters had developed cracks, the upholstered chairs sagged and the wallpaper was just starting to peel.
I loved it all.
After we dined with our older son on the college campus, we decided to leave Bodie with him, to attend a party and sleep in his dorm. So, that left Pea with her choice of three beds, after my husband and I grabbed one of the doubles.
“I am NOT sleeping alone,” Pea stated. “After all those people died here, I’m sure their spirits are haunting the house.”
So, the three of us slipped on our jammies, climbed into bed and turned on the TV, which was showing “Modern Family.” Ironic, isn’t it?
It took about 45 seconds for my husband to fall asleep, and, after several minutes of jostling for space, Pea and I followed.
And then, in the middle of a deep slumber, something…or shall I say someone…woke me.
“I woke up thinking it was morning, but it’s only 11:30,” Pea said. “Now I can’t fall back asleep.”
“Well I can, and I will,” I replied.
“No!” Pea hissed. “I don’t want to be the only one up.”
So, a solid hour of tossing and turning ensued. Ain’t jet lag grand?
At some point, I whispered, “It’s too crowded and hot in this bed, and your dad is snoring. I’m moving to the other room.”
“Please, no,” Pea pleaded. “I’ll lie still.” She changed from her sweatpants and brand-new college sweatshirt into a t-shirt and shorts. Then she started poking at her father.
“Roll over. You’re snoring!”
Welcome to my world, Little Miss.
After being nudged one too many times, Dad grunted and moved to the cot. Pea spread into his former spot, and quickly fell back asleep.
I did not.
Soon after, I heard sirens in the distance, and wondered if my too-young-for-college-parties son was okay. I lay awake, waiting for a distress call from one of the boys.
Pea started snoring.
Yes, I’m ready for a little distance, and even a dose of temporary dislike, from the kids.
Linda Williams Rorem, 7 April 2014
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