New Moon, the second installment of the Twilight series, earned a record breaking $72.7 million at the box office on opening day. Were the moviegoers all screaming teenagers there to drool over Taylor Lautner’s new bulging biceps, or swoon over Robert Pattinson’s sexy pallor? Nope. Many of these fans were moms. “Twi-moms,” as they - we - are often called, came out in droves to experience Bella’s love triangle between Edward, her vampire boyfriend and Jacob, her werewolf pal.
What is it about this series that has captivated so many moms? There are hundreds of groups for Twilight Moms on Facebook, Twitter, and parenting message boards. There are stories of moms stealing life-sized cardboard cut outs of Rob and Taylor from Nordstrom’s. There are even tales of moms requesting autographs on their undies, to the horror of their mortified daughters.
The Twilight books aren’t exactly prize-winning literature, yet many moms devoured them like left over Mac n’ Cheese on their child’s plate. When I finished the final book, Breaking Dawn, I went into immediate withdrawal. What do I do now? I thought, as I noticed the unwashed laundry that had piled up while my face was buried in Bella’s life. I nearly cried when I noticed my husband changing a light bulb. Watching him perform this menial task with so little grace and elegance, so un-vampire like, was a depressing reminder that there was no Edward in my life. My husband didn’t float on air, change the bulb at breakneck speed or pounce off into the forest to protect me. Instead, he fumbled and ultimately dropped it on the floor where it shattered. The whole episode sent me into a depression.
I talked to moms who also felt the need for PTSD (Post Twilight Stress Disorder) counseling, and we realized that the dishes, laundry, after school activities and carpools would ultimately forbid us from having enough time to date vampires, or befriend werewolves. We looked at our Blackberry schedulers and, sadly, we found we were just too booked for such frivolity. We are realistic. We may love the books, but we aren’t the bitter women and desperate housewives that many blogs and commentaries make us out to be.
For me, the series is nostalgic. No, I didn’t date the hot vampire at my High School (he was taken). I did have crushes on a few older boys - not 100 years older, they were seniors - and they felt equally unattainable. Like most teens, I was preoccupied with being cool, meeting boys, and my hair, but life was pretty carefree, full of surprises and possibilities, not playdates and errands. The Twilight tale reminds moms of those lost days: first loves, awkward silences and the palpable sexual tension you felt while wondering, is he actually going to kiss me?
A kiss from my husband is simply a kiss; there’s no woozy feeling or butterflies fluttering in my stomach. We don’t get lost in each other’s eyes while discussing our son’s report card or arguing over bills. Anyone who thinks otherwise has never been married. Bella and Edward live each moment in their own private world, with little else to divert their attention, except, of course, for aggressive vampires, werewolves and the Volturi (Ancient vampires who govern their world).
Twi-Moms aren’t just reading about Bella, we are trying to be her. We experienced her shock at the depth of Edward’s love, and her crushing anguish when he left her. Stephenie Meyer captured the longing, the desire and the total devotion that is a faint memory for most married women. I recall tearing through New Moon because Edward was absent for so much of the book that I felt lost without him.
Yes, I admit, it was fantasies of Edward that propelled me through the series. It was so easy to become Bella and to see Edward as my own. I was having an affair with that perfect vampire. Yet I wasn’t cheating, not technically. My husband knew. He was aware that someone else was with me as I read the books each night. In fact he should have thanked that someone for the sudden spike in our sex life.
Whether Twi-moms are drawn to Edward’s stunning beauty, quick wit, and boundless dedication, or Jacob’s shiny disposition, intense confidence, and 8-pack abs; our trysts ended the day we finished the final book. When moms saw the movies, many of us probably fell for the actors, because they were real-life versions of the characters we had fallen for on the page.
So, we may come across as cougars on the prowl, but we’re wise enough to realize the saga is fantasy (vampires and other mythical creatures aside), unlike the starry-eyed teenage groupies across the aisle who are still sure their Edwards and Jacobs await.