The Invisible Mom

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In the 1980s television series thirtysomething, the character Elliot Weston complains to his best friend and business partner Michael Steadman that they have become “invisible to teenage girls.” That remark really resonated with me as a new mother whose body was now a soft and nurturing landing place for my infant daughter instead of a curvy and sexy one men might find attractive.

That feeling of invisibility has changed over the years as my children have grown and I have experienced a different way of being invisible to teenagers. As a mom, I’m sort of like Mt. Everest – never-changing, solid, and just there. Immersed in their world of Snap Chat and Instagram, my kids seldom really notice me, except when they’re hungry or need money.

I’ve felt that same sense of invisibility in the hallways of the local high school. On the few occasions when I have been there during the school day, I will be walking down the hall and hear all kinds of profanity being shouted between teens who are blissfully unaware of the middle-aged woman in knee-length skirt and sensible shoes. It’s a bit jarring to hear, as is the sight of boys and girls canoodling in corners. This is their world, and I am just a vapor floating through it.

Still, there are some benefits to being invisible to teens. As frequent chauffeur for my kids and their friends, I have the ability to be a fly on the wall, listening to their teasing, gossip, and teenage patois, all while being perfectly unseen. The only way to break that spell of invisibility in the car is to interject my own comments, so I have learned to be the silent specter getting a glimpse into the teenage world.

On my recent visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, puppeteers did a skit depicting the story of a man gifted with a cloak of invisibility. Thus clad, the man was able to escape Death, who roamed the Earth ceaselessly in search of souls. Harry Potter himself uses the cloak to defeat the powers of evil represented by Lord Voldemort.

Invisibility can be both blessing and curse. It can hurt to be ignored by others because everyone wants to feel important, to feel recognized. I sometimes get annoyed or hurt by my kids’ seeming indifference. But invisibility can also be a gift, wherein one can be a spectator in life, observing, noticing, and learning.

I’m keeping my invisibility cloak handy for that next chance to gain insight into the world of my teens and their friends. Who knows what fascinations I may find?

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Mommy, I’m Sick

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I have the flu. Yes, I got the flu shot like everybody else, yet I still got the flu. As I lie here in bed in my quiet house, I realize something that is just not fair.

When my kids are sick, I am there for them. I take their temps, give them medicine and fluids, prop their heads on a couple of pillows and let them watch TV marathons. I am at their beck and call, fetching more tissues, making them soup, and answering each weak croak of “Mom” that I hear coming from the sofa.

But when moms are sick, who takes care of them? This morning I tried getting up to wake the kids up for school. I was dizzy and had to lie down. At that moment, what I wouldn’t have given to have my mom fetch me some water and a couple of Tylenols! Later, as I lay in bed, my entire body aching, I debated how badly I really wanted to get up and fetch myself said pain relievers.

I remember when I was first living on my own and had a terrible bout of stomach flu. I became so weak I had to crawl to the bathroom. Wondering whether I would have to call 911 to scrape my dehydrated carcass off the bathroom floor, I gained a new appreciation for all the times my mother took care of me when I was a kid. As the Paramore song goes, “Ain’t it fun living in the real world?”

To be fair, my husband did help me this morning. He fed and watered my 13-year-old and drove her to school. Then he instructed me to go back to bed and not worry about the sink overflowing with dishes and the Christmas gifts I still haven’t wrapped. I am lucky to have him.

My husband also made some coffee, and after drinking a cup, I feel slightly rejuvenated, at least enough to write this post. But still, when my fever spikes and I am sneezing out of control, all I will think is, “I want my mommy!”