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"Living with teenage daughters is like living with the Taliban."

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.

A toute!


  1. Gracie reminds me of a comment my horrible at home but perfect at school nine year old son made a few years ago. When we asked him why he wasn't as good at home as he was at school, he replied, "I've only got so much good in me. Where do you want me to use it, at home or school?" We chose school.

    1. I laughed so hard at your son's comment -- hysterical!!
      Sabrina in Port Townsend

    2. Me too!! Your kid is smart and don't you forget it!

      Wonderful post Ellie - I haven't commented before but LOVE your blog.

      xo Marianne

  2. This was so wonderful Ellie! Hopefully Gracie reads (and re-reads) this post!

    1. Surprisingly, Gracie did read this post and she promptly emailed me a formal cease-and-desist letter for "unlawfully using an unauthorized photo of her."

    2. Uh oh!! I smell a law suit!! Ummm ya, by the way...Kelsey's pissed because she said she does too eat!!! Pizza, apple tart...I lost focus on apple tart. However, she wants me to clarify for the world that she's careful about what she eats however she does eat!!

  3. Oh Ellie.. This has to be your best post ever! I couldn't agree more. Every line rings true! My daughter called today from her boarding school and we have limited talk time. In that we were discussing your post! I told her about it and she's asked me to send a print out( no they're not allowed access to the net) my daughter is my life but she can be really mean like when she was 6 , she came into my room , saw me doing my makeup and with her hand on her waist and said," do you think you're v pretty.? Or even recently a couple of months back when she said " I think you deliberately do better makeup for yourself than for me!" I swear I wanted to disown her then. But then she'll fight for me if she thinks I've been wronged , write poems for me on my birthday, make me cards for no reason and tell me that she'd not know what to do without me. And she'll say thankyou each time I do something for her! I'm relieved when she's like that. As she grows older she's becoming more understanding and less unreasonable. And yes..she too asks me why I have to keep staring at her.
    Today's post was like I was watching a movie..worth all the wait! Come back soon Ellie.

  4. I swear to you my reaction to the girls this entire week was....

    " LAWD JESUS!!!!!!!!!!"

    I must add that watching the other girls was waaaaaaay funnier than dealing with my own. All of these girls are off the charts PERFECT!!!! The challenge is that they are clones of the one's that birthed them!!!

    PS Love all the girls and their Mommy's xoxo

    1. *insert edit* MOMMIES not mommy's

      You're welcome Ellie, I know that was driving you crazy. Yes, I need to start proofreading. It's on my "to do" list.

  5. Teenage girls are MONSTERS, plain and simple. I was stepmother to two otherwise lovely and intelligent girls. They were nice to me up until I married their father. They felt entitled to their nastiness, after all I was the evil stepmom, so the normal horribleness of the teen years was magnified. Whenever I complained to my own mother about their behavior, she wouldn't say a word, but just sit and quietly chuckle, sometimes not so quietly. I don't remember being that mean to her, but it was her idea of karma.
    Loved this post - you perfectly captured the creature that is the teen girl!

  6. You nailed it on the teenage daughter thing. It is such a complicated relationship during those years. My girls are in their 20's and I couldn't be happier. Altho, I do have to say that they suffer flashback behavior every once in awhile! Ellie, thanks for making me laugh today! Have a great weekend!!

  7. Ellie,
    Everyone in your world is so absolutely beautiful.
    Do you have ANY plain, normal-looking friends or family?

  8. Debbie's comment "C'mon dropout let's go celebrate with half a grape " Howling here in SB !!!
    Got to give David some hibernation time , but Haley and I are next ! Love you , A

    1. Would love to see you and Haley! And Leon! You all have an open invitation. XOXO

  9. Daughters are so vicious to their mothers! I see it allllll the time in the salon. but I think everyone is an asshole at 19. As long as Gracie isn't getting arrested in a Christmas dickie and metallic go-go shorts, as *some of us* did, I think she's doing pretty well! I wish I had been in a coma 19-21. The world would have been better for it. Oh and my poor mother. I don't think she slept for like a year. Glad Gracie has such a good head on her shoulders.
    1. Where did poor David hide during all this? I hope he took a muscle relaxer and went to the market.
    2. How did Jen's date go?

    1. Stephen, I would pay money to have seen you being arrested in metallic gogo shorts. I have to Google what a Christmas Dickie is. I have not slept well since the day Gracie was born. Poor David just hid at work work this week and then when he got home he screamed at all of us and called us all psychotic, then he made us an apple tart everyday. He also secretly pretended that he did not like the Frito pie but he fucking loved it. Jen's date went really well and then the next day they had plans to meet again and then he sent her a text and said that he could not meet for their date because his girlfriend was over! And on top of that, he was only 30 years! Good Lord. What are you cooking this week? Anything delicious that we should know about? XOXO your blog was great today, FYI.

    2. In case you haven't found dickies yet, they are essentially bibs that look like sweaters around the neck. I think maybe they were made so one could have the look of layering without the bulk. They're awful. The embroidered Christmas dickie was my answer to an ugly Christmas sweater. hmmm I'm cooking a little bit of everything this week. Tonight I'm making pizzas with prosciutto, tarragon, goat cheese, and olives. Then for some reason I decided to host a Super Bowl "party" on Sunday so I'm making chili and cornbread and wings. I'm worried that I'll accidentally summon Guy Fieri with such a menu. So if I post a photo next week wearing white Oakleys and have yellow hair, know that it's too late for me.

  10. Loved reading this- moms have to tell these tales, so we can stand in solidarity and prop each other up when we get bowled over by the mean words. My daughter is 22, living in NYC (I'm in CA) and for the most part is a sweetheart now. A few years ago, different story. I kept wondering how can I say the wrong thing ALL the time? I think once they're more sure of themselves and out in the world they just see you as a nice friend who is unfortunately lame.

  11. Oh, I remember those days. My daughter is 28 now. She still shows some of those teenage moods. She was here today with her 3 year old daughter, my grandaughter. And, the cycle continues.
    a new reader, Maggie

  12. Thank GOD I didn't bring Sabena to Paris with me. She would have outdone everyone...

    1. I wish you had brought her!! We needed more hysteria. Can't wait to meet her!!

  13. Your posts are the BEST!
    Boys aren't that much different for your information :)

  14. Thank you Ellie , I will look into it and chat with you on email . Your answer to Sheila is priceless ! Love , A

  15. This is so spot on! Unfortunately, now hold your breath, they continue this behavior into adult hood. Thank God not often but the bitch returns for a short while and then retreats to the cave.
    Need to forward this to a friend so she can see "they" are more prevalent than we'd like.

  16. Ellie,Welcome back! Sounds like a good time was had by all,with the exception of David!

  17. Ellie,

    Another winner. No one does it better. You make us all feel normal about the abnormal yuck in our lives.
    Xo, Charlotte

  18. Ha ha ha ha, so funny, I didn't hear of the girls running to their room and slamming their doors...
    cursing their mothers out under their breath in their bedrooms behind closed doors and how
    their mom gets on their nerves and she just doesn't get it !

    Hilarious, but daughters do take a turn after these times and come right back to the foundation
    they know, their mom's...and then, they typically are there for life...I acted pretty
    rough, NO I acted HORRIBLE, "how my mother made it, I have no idea".....
    what patience she had, and yet again, another lesson to me today as I look back
    and remember all my mother is to me..and taught me.....I evolved to: I could not live without her.....

    I remember telling my mom Rules when to call me as Gracie, but I broke my own rule
    and called her ANY HOUR, how she handled 2, 3 o"clock panic calls I have no idea....
    she always answered the phone and NEVER scolded me....

    this is not to say she did not point out the time in the morning....HA HA...
    to my 'imagined major meltdown crisis".... LOL...XO

  19. LOVE this post!!! Once again, it's hysterical and a perfect description of teenage girls! The mothers, I have to say, are really holding their own.
    My Stepdaughter went into this phase at 12, then magically, thankfully morphed into a beautiful, kind young woman at 16 after a month spent in Thailand with her school...complete transformation...we were so grateful!!! I hope you and your friends are blessed with that experience very, very soon.
    Love and Hugs,
    Sabrina in Port Townsend

  20. I just left my monster 1000 km from me for her studies.She's even nice on the phone !
    I can't belive it.

  21. LOVE this post! I swear my 13 year old son is so much moodier than I ever was, it always helps to know it's not just our household! But now I'm worried that this is just the beginning....23 is a long way from 13. sigh. xx

  22. A truly delightful and relatable post, loved it all xxx

  23. Hahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaa !!!!!

    Love, Regan

  24. Heeheehee. Oh my, I would have given anything to have seen the look on Gracie's face when she saw which photo you used to illustrate her, along side the professional photos of the other (also beautiful girls)...Score one for Ellie! What I get out of this the most is how much you were loving the whole show (and ps. Special Mention must be given to Debbie's brilllliant ig tag that all of this took place at the "Decret-cray House"). And I am certain that David was could he not as he was surrounded by beautiful women? It is better than any reality program, I imagine...In the comments section as well...

    It must feel really, really quiet there now, non? I think that we need to convince Stephen to come over with a double-wide of pinot grigio and I will train up so that we can get the party (re)started... :)

    Much Love to you, Ellie.

  25. Perfection. I remember those years as if they were etched across my forehead. She's now matured into a fantastically capable and gorgeous woman. Insisted on doing it her way always!! These are 4 beautiful girls---the entitlement thing will pass once they experience life on their own (fall flat on their faces a couple of times). xoxo Mary

  26. Ohhhh... Missy ...that's the kiss of death around my house.

  27. BUSY WEEK.......................HAPPY TO SEE YOU ARE BACK!

  28. It was my son that treated me badly. I once said why are you so mean to me. You don't speak to your dad like that. He answered, I have always been closer to you and so have to push away harder in order to become independent of you. Is that a compliment???

  29. Best. Post. Ever. We moms with daughters know exactly what you're talking about - oh do we!! When my daughters act up/out, I smile and say, "My only comfort is the not unlikely chance that you'll have kids one day. Karma sucks."

  30. Funny dialogue!! Everyone’s channeling their inner “we are not amused” Royalty. Royal pains-in-the-asses?

    First, I’m glad you’re back and you survived to talk about it. Secondly, I’m glad David baked apple tarts – phew! I knew it’d be the litmus test of his survival. I don’t have a daughter but my son may very well be the male version of Gracie. He once told me I was happy enough for the both of us (in response to his bad mood).

    Lastly, I've been busy too...busy practicing The Healing Codes - Thank you very much! There’s definitely something to be said about destructive cellular memories and unhealthy beliefs. I’m seeing some quiet transformations going on around here, so thank you for the recommendation. xox

  31. I use to have teenagers but they all grew up. When they were being mean, I used guilt. I would say, "I can't believe you would talk to me like that. I'm your mom and I'm the one who loves you."
    It use to work quite well.

  32. When my daughter was very young and still nice to me, an old friend, a man with teenage daughters offered some great advice. He said that you have to treat teenage daughters like you would a drunk friend. "Yeah, yeah, I know you hate me, yeah yeah...etc." It's not really personal, they're drunk and don't have a clue what they are saying or doing. It works surprisingly well.
    Nice to have you back.

  33. Oh, this was amazing! I have three daughters - they are now 23, 25 and 30. I laughed so much, and read it again with my 23 y.o. We relived those days through your post! She has lived part time right outside of Paris for the past two years and will be moving there in October. After spending months there at a time, she totally related to Gracie's craving for NYC especially Trader Joe's! She has offered to bring her anything from Trader Joe's on her next trip, so let us know!

  34. This post has been better than therapy! Mothers unite now and stop the undivided attention immediately!

  35. This made my day. Have you ever heard, "No one gets realer than parents. They compliment you behind your back but talk shit to your face"? More power to mothers. You are my hero:)

  36. Leslie in Portland, OregonJanuary 30, 2015 at 3:09 PM

    This is why it was a very good idea for me to be an exchange student abroad during my junior year in high school and to go to college far away from my home. I had a great mother and loved her dearly, which was probably why I had to put some distance between us in order to "separate" from her into my own personhood. She died suddenly when I was 37 years old, and I would give just about anything to have five more minutes with her.

  37. I heard this saying.... God gave us teenagers so when they grow up and move out we won't miss them.


  38. When I was 17, I stood in the middle of the Pizza Hut parking lot in our little town (1 hour and 1/2 from Spfld, MO) and screamed at my parents and siblings (and whomever else cared to listen) that I was "sure that I had been switched at birth at the Monett, MO hospital and I SHOULD be living with some wealthy family somewhere in the Hamptons or somewhere else fabulous and with a family who were treating me in a decent manner and instead I was stuck with this group!" Amazingly my mother, who detested scenes and confrontation, stood there in her Butte Knit dress from work and her purse and yelled back, "I'm sure you were switched also, Jean, and now unfortunately, we're stuck with you! Now get in the car!" That shut me up for the evening!! I have two sons, good sons, but we have had our moments and when we do, my mother just gives me that look that says one thing; KARMA!!
    When you do finish your book, I hope you're prepared, because if it's as good as this blog, someone is going to want to do a movie from it! I've read a lot of blogs, and for a long time, but I find myself each morning looking for yours first to see if you've written anything new. And thank you for the referral to Manger. So good and so beautiful! Isn't it amazing the world I'm able to see and the people we're able to get to know in a way from this medium? I'm grateful. And to think that just because I happened to find this blog one day, (now I don't even remember how I came across your site?) I'm praying daily for a woman in Paris whom I've never even met to be healed, and my sons and I ate the most incredible pot roast we've ever had so far in our lives!!!! Have a great weekend!!

    1. I have probably been to that Pizza Hut outside of Springfield. Somehow your story reminded me of the movie, Terms of Endearment, when Debra Winger was screaming at her son in the parking lot to "get in the car!" So funny. Thank you so much for all of your prayers. XOXO

  39. I am a high school art teacher. Girls give me the stink eye and attitude It is HILARIOUS. I had one girl who was so mad at me she refused to speak to me for 4 years. Yet, she continued to take my class. Why was she mad at me? Because I told her she wasn't wearing pants and sent her to the office. Not to digress people but leggings are not pants! No to the Camel Toe.

  40. Boy I must have lucked out, (or been really really good in a past life), because I have a 22 yr old Chloe, (who actually is named Chloe), who never went thru this horrid stage and has always been a Chloe. Maybe it's because I'm half Czech, half British and she was raised all over Europe as well as Canada, but boy I can't imagine living with a non-Chloe. I have a Jonathan though, who is the most beautiful, loving, nightmare in the world. I used to say that if he is still alive by the time he gets to be 30, I will have won. Well, at 30 he got himself into the middle of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan...and survived. Wonder if that was his grand finale nightmare, but somehow I think there's more to come. That's the thing about children, it never gets any better, it just gets...more.