It's Spring Break! And you know what that means - yes, this week marks exactly one year since I became obsessed with all things Twilight. (You thought I was going to mention the beach, vacation, that type of thing, didn't you? Yes, we are going to the beach, and yes, it's nice to have the kids off school, but let's get our priorities straight, shall we?)
Resistant at first, I quickly fell under Stephenie Meyer's spell. It was Nina who first tried to recruit me for Team Edward. I'm not going to lie to you; I thought the entire concept was stupid. I'm not a teenaged girl; I'm not into vampires. No, I told her for weeks, I'm not reading a book that was a Teen People "Hot List" pick. And I've read enough of her "must-read" Nicholas Sparks books to know that we may be best friends but we do NOT share the same interest in books. (Before the Sparks fans get upset with me: he's a good story teller, I'll give you that, but his writing is repetitive, formulaic, and predictable.) But after weeks of daily phone calls, she finally wore me down. I bought the first book, Twilight, fully expecting to roll my eyes and make fun of her. I mean, really - teen girl falls in love with teen vampire. Whatever.
And then I read the entire series in eight days. The entire series. All four books. All 1,690 pages. In e-i-g-h-t days.
Once I started, it was un-put-down-able. My kids were fed and clothed and (relatively) clean, but I was completely obsessed. I read while I ironed, while waiting in the carpool line, while my kids and husband watched TV; I stayed up hours past my bedtime every night. I devoured each and every word, bought the next book well before I finished the previous one, and rented the movie version of Twilight - which I'd refused to see when it first came out. Compelling, mesmerizing, captivating storytelling, along with good writing, good dialogue, good imagery.
Yes, they're vampires. Yes, it's teen love. But it's so much more than that. I think what draws women, adult women, to this story, is the fact that against all odds, against all common sense, against the rules of society and science and nature, two people feel so strongly for each other that they are compelled to be together. What speaks to women, the young and the middle-aged alike, is the idea of a love so destined, so magnetic, that nothing can keep them apart. Not the fact that she's the police chief's daughter and that he's a danger to society; not the disapproval of their families and friends. They would rather die than be without each other. They would do anything to protect each other. Despite the odds against them, despite the challenges they face, they are compelled to be together, drawn by a love so deep it feels out of their control. Nothing can keep them apart. It's more than passion, or attraction, or mere lust - no, Bella and Edward are meant for each other, destined to be together, regardless of what happens around them, to them, because of them.
What woman wouldn't want a man to feel that way about her?
But though I love the books, and am currently on my fourth reading (hey, the movie version of Eclipse is coming out soon and I need to be prepared), I can separate fact from fiction. I may be fairly obsessed and have an old-lady crush on Edward, but I also know that real-life love, married love, takes time, effort, work. The books may be marketed at teen girls, but I doubt any teenager can truly understand a love so deep. All of us have experienced crushes, first love, puppy love - but what Bella and Edward share is so much deeper than that. And hopefully, what we have with our husbands is much deeper than that, too. It's mature love, a love born out of shared experiences, a love that comes from facing trials and troubles together. It's the kind of love that holds your hand in the delivery room when you are certainly not looking your best; the kind of love that gets a man up in the middle of the night with a scared child so you can sleep a little longer; the kind of love that lets us know this man would literally lay down his life for his children and wife. It's grown-up love.
A marriage is a give-and-take, an ongoing compromise, between two people who have committed themselves for life. Sometimes things are good; sometimes things are less good. Sometimes things are just, well, dull and staid and boring. But that's real life. Real life isn't always exciting, invigorating. Paying bills, driving carpool, making dinner - this is not the stuff of romance. But it's the stuff of life, of family life; it's what bonds us together. Yes, it's important to have those "grand gestures" in a marriage. But it's the small things, the little daily gestures, that speak to a deep, meaningful life together. As my friend Janet (whose husband introduced me to mine) says, "Attraction is important, but that initial passion will fade. You have to work to keep it alive. And in the end, I'd rather have a man who will wipe the baby puke out of my hair than one who'd buy me diamonds but sleep through the stomach flu." Well-said. Me, too.
Slacker Mom Says...real life is not a movie or a book. Real life isn't always exciting. A marriage is what we make it, after all. I may be obsessed with Edward and Bella's love story, but I still make time for MY love story. I'm not sure I believe in destiny and fate, but I do believe in forever, and in my husband, and in our love for each other. We'll keep working at it, keep challenging each other, keep loving each other. He's no vampire, and I'm not a teenaged girl, but we belong together.
And besides, when I'm in full Twilight obsession mode, he reaps the full benefits of my Edward-induced, romance-fueled attitude. When I read or watch anything Twilight-related - well, think about it. I'm just sayin'.