Shelley and David are a couple of almost-empty-nesters preparing to embark on the next stage of their life. They've just ordered white furniture and are planning the vacation they've waited their entire lives to take.
Their lives are catapulted in a completely different direction when Alexandra, seventeen and pregnant, shows up on their doorstep and announces that she's the daughter they never knew they had! Their life becomes filled with dilemmas as they add not only another child, but also a baby to a household that was just about to become serene.
Shelley feels like she no longer fits in anywhere and to top it off, having two teenaged girls suddenly plunged into being sisters and school mates is not exactly warm and fuzzy. When Alexandra's behavior becomes erratic, the couple is faced with even tougher decisions to make.
Hold on for an emotional yet witty ride as you join this family of characters in a story of love, loyalty, heartbreak, and humor that will stay with you long after you turn the last page!
Later that morning, Shelley looked at herself in the mirror while blow-drying her hair, recalling the first time she found out that she was a “cougar” and not a “MILF.” She and David were out for cocktails together at an upscale lounge and they were chatting with a bunch of people about various places to go. Telling David about a new wine lounge that just opened, a man had said, “You and your wife would probably fit right in.” He winked. “There are lots of hot cougars; the view is great!”
She recalled feeling shocked that he referred to her as a cougar, which in her mind always held the negative connotation of an older woman pathetically trying to hold on to her youth, attempting to hook young men.
This was quite different than years earlier when someone had jokingly referred to her as a MILF. She didn’t even know what it meant, so she’d looked it up on Urban Dictionary when she got home and found, MILF: Acronym for Mom I’d Like to Fuck. Slightly offensive, but in her mind also an indirect compliment, as it implied that even though she was a mom, she was still desirable—a status that can be hard to maintain when in the throes of mommy-hood.
Back then, she’d gone through a time when she recognized that she’d become so overrun by her responsibilities to her family that she’d completely forgotten about her Self. She even gave it an official definition:
Momnesia (mahm-nee-zhuh) -noun-
Loss of the memory of who you used to be.
Caused by pregnancy, play dates, and trying to keep the house cleaner than the Joneses.
After “diagnosing” herself as a bonafide momnesiac, she’d taken active steps to find balance between “momminess” and “sexiness,” striving to find a way to be a supermom and an actual person with her own interests at the same time. And she’d done a pretty decent job of it.
Now, years later, it seemed that she was going through another version of Momnesia, although at a different stage of her life:
Gramnesia (gram-nee-zhuh) -noun-
In which a woman is so busy trying to be all things to all people, she doesn’t fit into any particular category; She may be a grandmother, mother, wife, and friend, but doesn’t truly belong anywhere.
Now that she was immersed in being Patrick’s grandmother and full-time caretaker, she felt like she was in a category all her own. A one-person category in a world full of groups.
She didn’t fit in with the grandmothers whose homes were nice and tidy, who attended their knitting clubs during the day and visited their grandchildren on weekends, with the pleasure of being able to spoil them and then go home. She didn’t have that luxury, as not only did Patrick and all of his accoutrements live at her house, but as his full-time caretaker, she couldn’t very well go around spoiling him and leaving disciplinary issues to someone else, the way a regular grandmother could. Plus, at forty-six, she wasn’t ready for the knitting club anyway.
She also didn’t fit in with the young moms in their twenties and thirties who were experiencing parenthood and marriage for the first time and were making the mistakes they all made during that time in their lives. She just didn’t have the patience for it. Or the energy. Been there, done that.
Likewise, she no longer fit in with the moms of older kids—her former friends who she used to spend time with, all of their children older and mostly self-sufficient. They would work together on booster club fundraisers, Rotary events, and see one another at the occasional high school theater or dance performance. They all had time to take care of themselves, having abandoned the young mom uniform of stained tee-shirts, jeans, and a ponytail in favor of tailored slacks, nice blouses, and professional manicures. None of them had babies and their cars were no longer filled with car seats, phonics CDs, or Cheerio crumbs.
Now that she had Patrick (although she didn’t actually have Patrick, did she?), there was nowhere she truly felt right. When they were out and about, she wasn’t comfortable dressing in the playground attire she’d abandoned years earlier, yet she also found it decidedly uncomfortable to go to the playground dressed in her “adult mom” clothes. She had no time for manicures, hadn’t had a professional haircut in months, and was so exhausted all the time that her idea of a fun weekend brought visions of napping and being caught up on laundry.
Patrick himself created so many mixed feelings that it was a dilemma all its own. A sweet, adorable baby, she couldn’t help loving him, just the way she’d loved her own kids when they were little. His chubby little arms reaching for her, the amazement of watching him soak up the world and learn about each little thing, whether the rustle of a leaf or the way dry sand doesn’t hold its shape the same as wet sand does. She wanted the best for him and made sure that his life was as safe, enriching, and loving as he—an innocent baby with his whole life ahead of him—deserved it to be.
On the other hand, there was the undeniable truth that she felt resentful about the entire situation. The fact was, she and David had taken definitive steps to ensure that they wouldn’t have another baby. They had each enjoyed their babies back when they had them and they’d never felt the need to do it again. She’d dedicated the last nineteen years of her life to raising her two children, and did her best with all four after combining their families. She’d put in her time, so to speak, and had been ready to move on to the next phase of life: The phase in which she and David had time to travel, to be adults. To make love in a room other than their bedroom. To have nice things that didn’t get destroyed within a week of entering their home.
Maybe it would have been different if Alexandra took more of an interest in Patrick. If Shelley felt like she were helping her, as opposed to the reality that everything involving the baby was her job with Alexandra helping on occasion. When she was forced to.
Her head and heart spun constantly: How much should I help her? And how could I not? Should I try to leave Patrick’s caretaking up to her with the expectation that she will do it? Maybe if I don’t do it, she will. But he’s just an innocent baby and the fact is, she doesn’t do the things he needs! Can I sit by and watch as she neglects to bathe him and change his diaper? Wait until he gets a rash and the doctor has to tell her what to do? No! Or yes! I know that as long as I keep doing it, she’ll never do it. Would it be fair to Patrick for me to step aside and have him go through whatever trials and tribulations he’s sure to experience with an eighteen-year-old, uninterested mother? On the other hand, would it be fair for me not to “train her,” so to speak, so that she continues to be unprepared to take care of him? And what if she’s a drug addict? What will we do then?
Practically frothing at the mouth from the stress of these spinning thoughts, she’d eventually screech to a halt with the big question: What will happen if Alexandra never matures into a mother than can give Patrick a proper life? Are David and I prepared to raise him ourselves forever?
The thought of this was so mind-boggling, she’d have to stop there, unable to think any further.
At times like these, the thought of being “a cougar whose presence makes the view very pleasant,” would start seeming like not such a bad thing. If only she had the energy. Rowl.
Lori Verni-Fogarsi has been an author, speaker, and
small business consultant since 1995. She has been
featured in major media including Lifetime Women’s
Network, the My Carolina Today Show, and Boston
Globe Forums Live.
Her public speaking has occurred at many
prestigious venues including North Carolina State
University, Nassau Community College, and many
She has received two awards for her novel,
Momnesia, and her nonfiction, Everything You Need to
Know About House Training Puppies and Adult Dogs,
continues to be one of the most highly recommended in
its genre since 2005.
Lori is a happy married mom of two, step mom of
two more, and has two cats, both rotten. Originally a
native New Yorker, she now divides her time between
Raleigh, NC, and Lake Gaston, VA.
She is very excited about the release of
Unexpecting, and looks forward to her book tour,
interviews, launch parties, and other festivities!
Connect with Lori!
• Lori’s Website: http://www.LoriTheAuthor.com
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