Tacked to the mirror while I was growing up was a Rumi quote. It read: Don’t go back to bed. That quote is ironic to me because my mom always went back to bed. So did I. We slept in late, then stayed in bed longer, reading and talking. And when my heart was broken or I was moving the next day or I was lost or depressed, I trudged up to my mom’s bed.
When I see a scene in a show or movie when the daughter crawls in bed with her mother, I basically want to cry slash get on a plane that flies straight into my mother’s bedroom. When I’m home I hardly every sleep in my childhood bed anymore. The room isn’t heated and I like cuddling with my mom. My mom has also slept with me in my Brooklyn tiny twin beds. I remember she would ask me how I possibly slept with boys in those beds and we laughed. My mom took this photo of me waking up in the East Village in New York City, 2005.
We read side by side all the time and when we loved a part, we’d read it aloud. Usually we were reading The Sun magazine. But often we looked like Laurelai and Rory Gilmore in Gilmore Girls:
In the show Parenthood, Amber, (my fave character–played by Mae Whitman) falls in love with a man at her office, and gets caught in a hotel room with him by her Aunt, who got her the job in the first place. Amber really likes this man at the office, in a deep way. She stops going to work. She doesn’t talk to anyone about it. Finally, Amber shows up at her mother’s door to find her mom taking a nap. Amber crawls in bed with her mother (Lauren Graham) who is looking at her expectantly, sooooo expectantly, so Amber finally says: “I just…really don’t want to talk about it, mom.” Her mom nods. The rain pours down and they hold each other and sleep.
And Amber, at least in that moment, sticks to that.
Me, I’m more like Lena Dunham at the end of Tiny Furniture. I often tell my mother every gory detail immediately after I think in my head, well I’m DEFINITELY not telling my mother about THIS. And then I tell her. After some sort of life crisis/bad thing/life-changing event inappropriate for a mom to know my friends will ask me, “Did you tell your mom?” To which I say, “Why would I tell my mom?!” even though yes I probably told my mom.
In the last scene of Tiny Furniture, Lena Dunham and her mom (her mom in the movie is her real life mom, Laurie Simmons) have just had a pretty bad fight–Laurie Simmons’ back is out, and she is sick of Lena Dunham living there without doing shit. LD takes a shower then asks her mom, “Can I get in?” “Mmm-hmm,” her mom says. She rubs her mom back, looks really depressed and says: ”You know that guy you met the other night?”
Laurie Simmons: “”Yeah.”
LD: “I had sex with him.”
LS: “Where? Here?”
LS: “His place?”
LD: “No, he has a girlfriend.”
LS: “…….On the street?”
LS: “What is worse than on the street?”
LD: “A pipe in the street.”
And then, a true mother’s response:
“Didn’t you get cold?”
She goes on to talk about the importance of using condoms. My mom always did this–taking my boyfriends aside and telling them to be careful.
Laurie Simmons asking her daughter if she was cold being fucked in a pipe
My mom called me after she watched the Parenthood episode called “Slipping Away”. She said she couldn’t sleep. She said it haunted her because it hit too close to home. In “Slipping Away” Amber finds out she didn’t get into Berkley. She starts hanging out with some shitty guy and doing drugs. Her self-esteem is low and her heart is broken. So her mom tells Amber that they need to go out for pasta and make a plan. Amber shows up late and is acting totally manic and weird.
“What kind of high are you? I don’t think it’s just pot.”
Then Amber leaves with her boyfriend and she’s talking a mile a minute bitching about her mom and drinking out of a flask passing a joint back and forth. Then, smash, a car hits them head-on.In the next episode, Amber’s grandfather brings her to the lot where the car is. He makes her look at it. Her arm is broken and her face is a mess.
Her Grandfather gives it to her straight: “I know you had some bad breaks. You’re not feeling good about yourself–you didn’t get into Berkley? Well boo-friggin-hoo. You gotta suck it up, girl.” Amber sobs and says imsorryimsorryimsorry.
“I’ll buy you a burger,” says Grandpa.
When I was nineteen, I got into a head-on car accident, leaving me in a sad and shitty place. I asked my mom if she would give me something to protect me. I felt scared. stripped. Naked. Weak. She was kind of mad at me during those days–we were fighting a lot. But when I was vulnerable and asked her for something to protect me, I remember her being kind of fun about it, walking up the stairs to her room and saying, “Let’s see…” She dug through her jewelry box and found a large gold safety-pin. I wore it on my purses for the next three years, and I drive like a grandmother now.
The movie Thirteen came out in 2003, my mom and I went to see it in the theater. Thirteen is a movie that dares to show the ugliness of teenage girls–drugs, sex, alcohol and self-harm in all it’s under-aged glory. I was a junior in high school at the time. At the end of the movie, they collapse together on the kitchen floor, then get into bed and wake up in bed together. I was shocked by the whole movie and could barely form a sentence afterward when my mom and I walked back into the daylight.
In Thirteen, Parenthood, and Tiny Furniture, the daughters all repeat the same thing again and again: “I’m just trying to figure it out mom, I’m figuring it out mom.”
My friend Erika Kleinman gave me the idea to write this post. We were talking about Parenthood/Girls/TinyFurniture via email and she said: ”Do we all want to just crawl in bed with out moms?” Here’s Erika’s crawling in bed anecdote:
At night my five-year-old is at her most talkative. My husband and I switch off, taking turns putting them to sleep. We know there is probably a better way but we haven’t done a damn thing about changing it. She’s giving me a monologue about Daddy. My five-year-old says she would rather sleep with Daddy because he’s actually her best friend. She says he tells better stories. She says she got used to him, since I always had to be with the baby. She says, “I actually love Daddy more than you.” I slip into a technique I have learned since working with kids all my damn life. It’s called encouraging the behavior. “Oh wow,” I say. “Tell me more. Tell me why you love Daddy more. Let’s make a list!” She is lying on her back, looking up at the ceiling. I am lying on my side, facing her. We are sharing the striped comforter, the soft one from Urban Outfitters that we’ve had for forever, before she was born. “Well,” she says huffily, “first of all, he says yes more than you.” I nod enthusiastically. It’s important to act somewhat wide-eyed and stupid. “Oh wow, so he says yes more, that’s a good reason. Tell me more.” She looks at me. She knows I’m not being normal. “And also, we go to Magnolia Cafe for breakfast and you never come with us.” That’s when she starts to cry. “And I got tired of being without you because you’re so busy with Piper all the time and so I decided to like Daddy more.” I stare at her with my mouth open. I’m in awe of her. I nod, slowly this time. “Oh, I see,” I say. “So really you want more time with me.” She is sobbing. I pull her close and stroke her hair. “You need attention,” I said. “I can do that.” She falls asleep holding my hand.
I emailed my mom that I was writing this and she told me that Atticus almost gets in bed with Scout at the end of To Kill A Mockingbird but doesn’t.
And a contribution from writer Wendy Ortiz:
First thing in the morning, every morning, she climbs into our bed. We often wish aloud that she’ll do this all her life when she’s in our house. I can’t imagine ever not wanting this. Wendy and Octavia Leopoldine:
And last but not least–when the tables are turned. From the book, “I’ll Love Your Forever.”
Did I forget some good ones? Let me know in the comments or email me about your favorite mother/daughter bed scene.