Twilight Moms craze over popular vampire story

Sarah-Grace Sweeney

It is a little off-putting to most people at first, the idea of moms obsessing over a teenage romance novel. But with Edward Cullen’s golden eyes and chivalrous gestures, he can be irresistible even to the strictest of mothers.

The Twilight Saga,” by Stephenie Meyer, is a four-part series about a forbidden romance. The hero of the story, Edward Cullen, just so happens to be a devastatingly handsome vampire in love with an average human girl named Bella Swan. While he constantly wants to drink her blood and is actually forbidden to tell her his true identity, their love overcomes all. The four novels tell of their struggles and journey together.

The best-selling books have since been adapted into films and the latest, “Breaking Dawn Part I,” opened today at midnight. While the novels and movies are marketed to a teen girl audience, the appeal has spread to include their mothers.

“Being older, we had real life experiences to relate to the feelings we had about the book,” said Austin Twilight Moms member Candace Wheeler. “I read ‘Twilight’ in one day, a Monday. I felt like I had to know what’s next. It was a need.”

Fan club Austin Twilight Moms met through the website after realizing there was a large group of mother “Twilight” fans in Central Texas. They now host premiere parties for the movies, DVD release parties and other lunch and dinner dates for occasions such as Bella’s Birthday. The group has also started raising money for charities such as Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which benefits childhood cancer research.

“I know people roll their eyes and snicker about those creepy Twilight Moms,” Wheeler said. “But have you helped a soldier today or raised money for a children’s cancer research group? And taken three kids to school.”

The moms are aware of the stereotypes out there, but it does not seem to bother them all that much. The moms are of all ages, from 20s to 50s, and their professions range from teacher to nurse or doctor. Some of the members are not even mothers, just older than the typical teenage “Twilight” fan.

“Most people think Twilight Moms are middle-aged women who are stay-at-home moms trying to relive the past or recapture their youth,” said April Cleaver. “People think we tend to be pretty aggressive, at least when it comes to the stars of the movies and there are some of those.”

Cleaver is one of the members of the group who is not a mom, but “just a grown up.” She works as a controller at The Blood Center in Austin and began reading “Twilight” after her boss encouraged her to do so. She became “infected” after just three chapters of the first book, she said.

“Bella is the every girl, so she reminded me a lot of me when I was that age,” Cleaver said. “And it reminded me of when I first got married and I’ve been married 27 years. It brought back all of that new love, which was fun.”

Jillian Cooper, a project manager at Cisco, has been a member of the group since 2009. She read the books after the second “Twilight” movie, “New Moon,” sparked her curiosity. The love story of Edward and Bella captured her attention and also brought a new dynamic to her own relationship.

“It led to me seeing our relationship differently, what I expected and what I wanted out of things,” Cooper said. “My husband and I both understood that protective nature [of Edward] and the need to do anything for the other person.”

The Twilight Moms group has even helped some mothers rediscover their sense of self, that they are someone beyond just a ride to dance practice or Boy Scouts.

“It’s helped my to see the importance in developing myself as a person,” Wheeler said. “I didn’t pay attention to music, movies or have hobbies or girlfriends. I didn’t do things for me and it made me happy to do something again.”

Printed on Friday, November 18, 2011 as: 'Twilight' saga inspires local moms