The Me Party continued with a chick flick tonight. I watched Mean Girls. This had been on my “to watch” list for a while, but I realized that I had no idea exactly when it came out. As the previews rolled and announced their availability on DVD and VHS, it became clear that it was a while ago. But with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, how did I not even hear about it when it was in the theaters? I mean, I love them. Well, I suppose that my love has been a slow burn, ever-growing more recently with their awesome and hilarious election year skits, and later Tina Fey’s book and her Prayer for Her Daughter and Amy Poehler’s “Smart Girls at the Party.” But come on! Even accounting for slightly less ardor for the ladies of SNL, how could there have been a time when I wasn’t dying to see little Claudia Salinger from Party of Five all grown up? I loved Party of Five!
So I checked when the movie came out. 2004.
What the heck was I doing in 2004?
I was chasing toddler M around while manufacturing J from scratch.
This made me start to wonder. I did a search for the top 10 pop songs of 2004. I listened to clips, and only 4 of them were even vaguely familiar to me. I checked out the Academy Awards for 2004, and I’ve only seen 2 of the nominees for best picture. Of The New York Times list of 100 notable books of the year, I only remember hearing about 10 or 11 of them, and of those, I only managed to read one and attempt, but set aside, another.
The point is, I pretty much missed 2004.
In so many ways, I was still adjusting to being a mom. Little M was often fun but also willful and exhausting. I wasn’t sleeping enough. Even when I did get a decent night’s sleep, it didn’t feel like enough. I was still in survival mode, and every ounce of energy I had was put into those two little girls.
I’d lost myself. Which is okay, I guess. I know that everyone tells you that you have to take care of yourself and plan time for you and all of that, but I still don’t understand how anyone does that when they have babies and toddlers. There are women out there who can do it, who can still function at a high level at their jobs or who can transform nap-time into bookdeal-making opportunities for fabulous creativity, but I just wasn’t one of those mamas. Whether it was my daughters’ high needs or my own inadequacies, I spent the first three years of motherhood just barely surviving.
So this is for those of you who are in new-mama survival mode: it will pass. I won’t tell you to take time for yourself, because somebody’s already told you to do that, and I know that you will if you can. I’ll just remind you that you’ll come out on the other side of survival mode and you’ll find yourself again. And you’ll be a better person. You’ll know yourself better, and you’ll probably be wiser about pretty much everything. And you’ll appreciate the simple pleasures of a good night sleep or an uninterrupted conversation like you never, ever could when you were in your early twenties. And you’ll look back at those pictures and you’ll almost forget that your feet were hurting and that maternity bra strap kept sliding off your shoulder. Instead you’ll marvel at the compact little toddler body with the cherub cheeks and golden bangs and long-ago romper that the next baby has long outgrown, too.
It was about when this picture was taken that I started writing the newsletter for my Moms’ group. It feels, now, like that began the gestation period for this blog and all the other writing that I have done since. So remember: as you begin to come back up for air after drowning in mamahood, pay attention to whatever it is that inspires you even when you are overtired, the stuff that satisfies you. If you’re searching for yourself again, try swimming in that direction.
Enough schmaltz! I’ve got to go put Million Dollar Baby on my Netflix queue.