Cool Mom

I was the cool mom. Now I’m the old mom, slower than her; she sees it. I notice her stare at my aging and quickly pretend I don’t notice; I don’t say anything. I have an only daughter (an Occupational Therapist) who is knitted inside me. I feel the chain stitch that holds us, the pain of it, when I move—when she moves. I thought I would unravel when she drank in high school, had the accidents, had run-ins, had horrible confrontations, hated her, loved her, forgave her. We have always through all of it, communicated. Mostly, the last umpteen years of our lives, our way of speaking, and almost 100 % of the fights, the admonishments, the anger (both sides), food ordering, silliness, asking for advice, have been through texts.

Yes. Texts. Smilie with sunglasses.

That form has been and still is, saving us. I don’t care how lame it seems. I don’t care how stupid her dad thinks it is, tells us that, tells us to stop since I’m two rooms away from her. That’s how we do it. That’s why it doesn’t work with him. He likes to make noise from his mouth (gasp!)

We started this mostly texting relationship earlier than most of my friends, her friends, all our relatives, and their kids. It all began when she was a kid when I followed her on the internet. She was about 12 and I discovered how good I was tracking her digital footprints. We all traveled to a website called Myspace. Mhm…some kid’s mom, like landing a lunar module on a foreign planet: Myspace. Not stalking. Just making sure she was safe. Was this a dating site? I didn’t get it. Why are they making profiles? Personal info. Pictures. What are they doing on here? Chats. Blogs. Bulletins. Forums. It was a huge prairie in the wild-wild-west and I had to get to the bottom of it. I became Westworld mom and rode around the landscape. I created a profile too and became one of them. You could make things up. I could be younger. This wasn’t so bad after all.

She tolerated me. She let me enter her world. She, as well as friends I met from all over the world, taught me cool things and soon I began learning HTML. I had had some programming experience at work, so this was fun. Apparently, the new frontier website had some holes, had some flaws, had some glitches. The owners mostly tolerated our shenanigans, after all there was a page in the profile section where code could be altered, hidden in plain sight; one could tinker. When it was learned by users that profiles could be embellished, our new universe expanded. Geekiness was celebrated. We added ranches and saloons. Signs appeared: Come to our town.

Suddenly each person on the internet could break free from randomness. You could decorate your room with CSS. And if anyone has seen a 14-year-old’s room, you soon learned that some coding can break. Some coding would make your eyes hurt by gaudy banners. Certain coding was halted by the site owners eventually, but some of it they let run rampant. When that happened, we were exhilarated, we found new ways to paint and wallpaper, spending hour upon hour, becoming hooked. What an adventure. By the time it was over I had 200 + blogs and tons of subscribers. Most of my adult “real life” friends never knew I was part of this—there has never been any online experience like it since. Facebook? Nope.

Bonus! There was money to be made. Kids started up sites selling custom profiles, decorative comments, signatures, and gifs. There wasn’t enough digital glitter in the universe to decorate this website. I ended up becoming someone who coder kids came to for help via the forums. My daughter flipped from (thinking) why is she here to, Hey, your profile is neat, how do I?…

When (old version) Myspace eventually ended, texting amped up. Chat messengers. They finally died. Smart Phones. Small screen texting. Icons. Emojis. Present day.

So, my daughter is a professional adult now. We text daily. It’s part of our (exhausting) culture. If texting with her stops for half a day, I feel empty or anxious. I worry if she’s not online very long.

“Have you heard from her?” her dad will ask.

“Naah…not yet.” Right—he’s on board with this now. But he won’t text her himself.

She and I, this is our language—our use of correct grammar has shifted. Punctuation. Sometimes nonexistent. What has happened to the world? I guess I shouldn’t worry; amidst the ever-evolving use of words, all that is good and bad about being so nonverbal, I am still glad, always relieved, when I hear her special text sound on my phone—the one that is assigned only to her, my way of knowing, hearing she is immediately present and speaking, as a triangle melodically sings, a heart shape is copied, and then pasted. 

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