I used to be this girl. I miss her.
Now that I'm coming out the other side it's a little bit easier to write about.
It got really bad after the house fire. I think it was so bad I didn't really admit it to myself even. I was so terrified by how dejected and hopeless I was feeling that I didn't really want to acknowledge it. Couldn't acknowledge it. Acknowledging would send me over the edge. Like removing a blood soaked towel from a gaping chest wound, it might be the end of me. I just kept trying to sop up the blood and get on with my day.
So I jammed the towel into my wound as hard as I could and kicked into autopilot mode.
And there I stayed until this past trip to New York City. Even just the four hour road trip felt like coming up for air after being underwater so long you feel like you can't make it another second. Every day all day people needing needing needing. Our entire days are an endless gauntlet of responding to our children's needs. It's exhausting.
New York City makes my heart pound with excitement. Even when I lived there a couple years, each excursion anywhere filled me with adrenaline and wonder. But it wasn't just that, the rubbing shoulders with the inherent excitement of New York City. It was visiting a past version of myself I had forgotten about. In tipping my hat to the girl I was at 27 I realized I made a mistake after becoming a mother. I lost myself in motherhood. I dove into the deep end the day Violet was born and I've been treading water ever since, this close to just silently slipping under. I mean, I hadn't been away from my kids for a single night since their birth, for godsakes! And I was proud of that, thinking that my constant, unrelenting presence was somehow a sign of great parenting.
I lost myself.
Serge and I nearly lost our marriage.
I forgot how awesome I am, y'all! Because I am! I'm totally awesome. It's just that life snuck up behind me, tapped me on the shoulder and bitch-slapped me. I got into a street fight with life and life whipped out a switchblade and jabbed me good. But I think I'm back and ready to kick life's ass again. And what I mean by being awesome isn't that I am this fantastic individual. I just mean that I got this. I am aware. I can assess that, quite honestly, I haven't been being very awesome but I know I can fix that. I can work on myself and adjust the things I'm doing wrong and try and make it better. Because yeah, even though he's a total assface a lot I've got to figure that, for Serge, living with me over the past couple months has probably been pretty similar to living with a chick in a constant state of PMS.
All we can do is keep trying. And I want to try. Once you don't want to try anymore, what have you got left? Not much.
If I can impart any single most important bit of advice to a new mom it would be this: Don't forget about yourself! Motherhood is all consuming. Every moment of your day, even if you work full-time, is consumed by thoughts of your child. Guilt, unfortunately, is a mom's best friend. Always has, probably always will be. Guilt over everything. Too much TV. Not enough mom time. Didn't read them any stories today. Didn't brush their teeth. Chicken nuggets for dinner three times in a row. Chocolate milk again. Too many cookies. Yelled at your kid for whining. Ignoring your kid for an hour so you can surf the internet - all guilt-inducing! Basically, every move you make in life now causes you guilt, right? And chances are, you were probably screwed up by your parents so you want so badly to do it right and so you slam the gear into overdrive and just keep on truckin' even when you get a flat tire.
Stop and fix the flat! Recharge yourself! Maintain your interests. Get a trusted babysitter and go out of the house on your own, even if it's just to grab a coffee and browse the book aisle at Barnes & Noble. A couple hours here and there throughout the week is crucial.
I didn't do that, you guys. And I just became this angry, injured, depressed woman who had to claw through a black cloud just to get out of bed in the morning. It wasn't until I walked the streets of my old Brooklyn 'hood that I remembered I used to be someone else before all this happened. I was this sassy little broad who had the world by the tail.
I stood outside that crappy little Brooklyn apartment and searched for the letters I knew were there. They were tough to see. Six years old, a million sneakers, stilettos and boots wearing them away over time. Worn down over time: kind of like me. And then I spotted them:
S + M and Max.
Before this whole parenting thing began. We were there. We're still there. Engraved in our own little chunk of expensive New York real estate. So now, hundreds of miles away in the middle of the Pennsylvania countryside, I need to work to make sure that engraving doesn't become a tombstone. I need to keep that girl alive, need to keep scrapping with life because I have a switchblade too and I will totally cut a bitch.