There is so much estrogen in this house that I think my husband may commit suicide or at the very least move out. I have done a headcount and in the past week there have been 12 girls at my apartment. 12 mighty girls… Not a wallflower in the bunch. My poor husband has been a witness this week to every range of female emotion and expression… Joy, laughter, tears, little bit of rage, moodiness, hysteria, disappointment, excitement, insecurities, confidence, bravado and fear coupled with a few “I love yous” and a few “I hate yous.”
While all of my adult girlfriends expressed these same emotions, it was our daughters that were really fucking masterpieces this week. What is it about being a mother that you can simultaneously love your daughters and want to sing their praises yet in the same breath also want to lock them in closets and not let them out until they learn how to say something nice. You have never seen so much eye rolling, huffing and puffing, guffawing, footstomping and turned backs. It was like Mean Girls 2: Paris Style.
Let me start with the cast of characters…
Gracie, my daughter, 19 years old. Nice to everyone except me. Shy and acerbic.
Sarah, Susan’s daughter, 19 years old. 19 going on 40. Doesn’t have time for idiots.
Kelsey, Debbie’s daughter, 17 years old. Master manipulator. Secretly working on ruling the world… One fashion show at a time.
Chloe, Sally’s daughter, 23 years old. Golden child. Future President of France.
The week started off with Gracie telling me that she wanted to go to New York… “because she was hungry.” She told me that she was sick of French food and just wanted “regular food” like Shake Shack and Trader Joe’s. My response, “Gracie, we had a deal, you cannot leave Paris and college until you speak French fluently and a cheeseburger is no reason to move to New York.” Her response, “You can’t tell me what to do. I have more college than you do under my belt so technically I’m smarter than you.” Yes, I wanted to kill her and start over with a new baby. Two days later Gracie was hired to assist a fashion stylist on a photo shoot for a British pop singer. Suddenly, Gracie liked Paris again. The day before she told me to never ever, under any circumstances, call her before 10 AM or after 10 PM. Suddenly, Gracie had time to talk on the telephone and tell me all about her wonderful job. Tuesday evening Gracie graced us with her presence at my apartment under the guise of spending quality time with me but I knew the truth… It was because I had chili and Fritos. I served my daughter a piping hot bowl of homemade chili with her favorite cheddar cheese and crème fraîche topped with imported Fritos and before she could take her first bite she looked at the chili and screamed at me, “YOU KNOW I DON’T LIKE ONIONS!”
Nothing I do with Gracie, towards Gracie, for Gracie is correct in her eyes. According to Gracie I am too loud, too talkative, too open, too rude, too happy, too pushy, too short, don’t do my makeup correctly, too bossy, have too many “acquaintances”, use the words “networking” and “journey” too much, butcher the French language, and overall just a total loser. I could win the Nobel peace prize and Gracie would most likely roll her eyes and say to me, “I’m pretty sure there must be some mistake.” If Gracie ever had to describe me I am confident the words “bipolar, unstable, embarrassing and lame” would come up.
Gracie only reserves this remarkable behavior for me… With everyone else she is an angel. With other people she smiles, with me she growls. With other people she is complementary, with me she is the New York Times fashion critic. With other people she will go out of her way, with me she does the bare minimum. With other people Gracie is impressed, with me Gracie has an overall feeling of disdain.
Words that came out of Gracie’s mouth this week…
“Do you realize you are too old to blog and Instagram?”
“One of your eyes is smaller than the other.”
“Can I have your Valentino handbag because it’s not like you can use it.”
“I thought you were supposed to lose weight with ALS.”
Gracie was in good company this week because her friend Sarah arrived. Sarah is my friend Susan’s daughter whom we have known since 2002. They are like family to us. Sarah is a tall, thin, drop dead gorgeous 19-year-old with bee sting lips, porcelain skin and bright eyes. Sarah has led a privileged life of private planes, mansions, exotic travel and private tutors however, she doesn’t give a shit. Sarah is “the cool girl.” Sarah is busy building her empire and thus came to Paris this week “for work.” She’s 19. When she is not doing some side work as a model, Sarah is launching her company. While most 19-year-old’s are at college sitting in History 101 class and experimenting with beer bongs at house parties, Sarah is at the European fabric show in Paris procuring new vendors for her lingerie line. When Sarah and Gracie were little girls, one day I took both of them to the Aspen library to check out some books. Gracie was knee-deep in Amelia Bedelia when Sarah said to me, “Don’t let Grace follow me because I’m going to go to the grown-up section of the library to read books about s-e-x.” Sarah was born an adult. Now that she is an official adult at age 19, her mother has now morphed into “the help.”
Words that came out of Sarah’s mouth this week…
“Mom, could you please call me an Uber.”
“Mom, could you please find my computer because I think I left it at the airport.”
“Mom, you’re asking too many questions.”
“Mom, could you please pack my bags because I need to get back to Los Angeles.”
And then there was Kelsey. Kelsey is my friend Debbie’s 17-year-old supermodel daughter. Kelsey was in Paris this week “on hold” for a major fashion campaign. Witnessing what Kelsey has had to go through this past week has caused me posttraumatic stress disorder. Kelsey is not the typical editorial model, she is a runway model. Yes, these are the girls that are expected to weigh less than a pencil. I think I saw Kelsey eat a total of three bowls of Special K cereal for the entire week. She was hungry, grumpy and moody to no one… Except her mother. Kelsey’s mother Debbie did not stand a chance this week.… She was the designated punching bag. At one point during the week, Kelsey’s career took a left turn (for the better) and she was forced to decide whether to return to school for her second semester of senior year or focus solely on her modeling career. There were a lot of tears and no matter what Debbie said to guide Kelsey or comfort Kelsey, it was all unsolicited advice according to Kelsey.
Words that came out of Kelsey’s mouth this week…
“Mom! This isn’t your career.”
“Mom, I’ll call my agent when I want to.”
“Mom, I’ll eat next week!”
“Mom, you’re acting like Kris Kardashian.”
The only saving grace of the week was Chloe. Chloe is the daughter of my uber chic friend Sally. Just when I thought we had all failed as mothers, Chloe arrived. Chloe is the great white hope for mothers. 23-year-old Chloe is poised, well spoken, polite, endearing, educated, elegant and believe it or not… Nice to her mother. I don’t want to say that I wish Gracie were like Chloe but I wish Gracie were like Chloe. Chloe isn’t searching for her identity and is not at war with her mother. She already passed that phase and has come back around the block a civilized person… Unlike the three Tasmanian devils at my house. Just when you think your daughter might fantasize about your violent death, they come back around. They reach a certain age, experience enough of life, learn from their mistakes and realize that their mothers weren’t so bad after all. I am still waiting for this experience…
But don’t think that Susan, Debbie nor I are without our weapons. Trust me, we are experienced warriors. Our daughters will not win. Okay, maybe they will halfway win, but they will not totally win. My weapon is the use of guilt. I am like a professional Jewish mother in the guilt department. I can do it with a look, with my words or a quick email. Without fail, it gets the job done. Gracie usually snaps out of her shithead daughter mode for a solid 24 hours.
Debbie’s weapon is humor. After a tearful hour of Kelsey going back and forth about her decision to quit her regular school and to continue with online school while modeling full-time, finally a decision was made. This decision did not come easy and no matter what advice Debbie had for Kelsey, Kelsey was not listening. Debbie could not have been more supportive towards Kelsey’s decision telling Kelsey, “Kelsey, you can finish your second semester 12th grade online without anyone judging you. You have been given an opportunity that you cannot pass up.” After the tears dried up and Kelsey felt confident about her decision to quit school, Debbie stood up and looked at Kelsey and said, “C’mon dropout, let’s go celebrate with a half of a grape.”
Susan’s weapon is subtlety. Passive aggressive subtlety. Susan can put Sarah into her place with three quick words… Loaded three quick words. All Susan has to say to Sarah when Sarah is being a bit righteous is, “Ohhhh, okay Sarah.” Somehow the tables are turned and Susan is in the lead.
If you have teenage daughters, don’t pretend like this isn’t happening to you as well. No mother is immune to this behavior from their daughters. If your teenage daughter is actually nice to you, it is all a farce and she is probably “sexting” and doing crystal meth. I guarantee it. No matter how horrid our daughters can be, there is no one we would rather spend time with. I eat sleep and breathe Gracie and my friends do the same with their daughters. Gracie spent the night with me while David was out of town a couple of weeks ago and I spent the wee hours of the night just watching Gracie sleep. Gracie rolled over, woke up, looked at me and said, “Stop breathing on me, weirdo.” Be still my heart.
Things we said to our daughters this week in Paris…
“Stand up straight, you look like a hunchback.”
“Call me from inside the taxi on speakerphone so the driver will know that you have a mother who is expecting you so he will not kidnap you.”
“If you are purposely trying to look like a slob in that outfit… Mission accomplished.”
“You look pale, drink this green juice, I don’t care if you think it’s gross.”
“Excuse me, missy, are you hung-over?”
“Did you send a thank you letter?”
“What rhymes with witch.”
“Text me when you get back to your apartment so I have proof of life.”
“Do you need a therapist?”
“Your Uber has arrived.”
“Let’s go over the rules again of how to spot a terrorist.”
“No, you cannot borrow that and yes, I will know if it’s missing.”
“Really? You don’t like lasagna this week but you did last week?”
“No, your agent does not know what is best for you… I do, because I am your goddamn mother.”
“No, green beans are not fattening.”
So that, my friends, is my household this week… Amongst other things that we will get into tomorrow.