Friday, February 15, 2008

Sex and the Mommy

Whenever I watch Sex and the City reruns, I get the urge to move back to New York, lose 20 ( okay, 30) pounds, start smoking again (hence the lost pounds), and most of all, be free to sit in my impossibly nice apartment on a rainy urban day, pondering life and relationships, and writing my short, well-paid column.

I told my husband this. He didn't say, "Mee TOOooo!" like my girlfriends would have. But I wonder if he has always suspected this about me and SATC, and that's why he has never liked it. On the other hand, that is, of course, why women love the show. We fantasize about life as a single woman: the freedom, the fun, the sex.

I was once a single New Yorker, making decent money and having fun. What I do now is so far from who I was 20 years ago, I feel like a character in an imposter movie, where a lookalike steps in and starts living a new life in the same body (or a larger, lumpier version).

I'm doing okay in my assumed life; in some areas (like motherhood) I'm actually quite proud of my performance. I seem happy and productive. People, I suspect, are buying it. And me? Well, I can no longer figure out which is the real me. I mean, many times I wonder when I agreed to stop being what I thought I was (informed, energetic, optimistic and cheerful, sometimes sexy, passionate, passionately loved), and be the new me (oblivious, grumpy, frumpy, and tired waaaayy too often).

I sound cynical and a little bit sad, I realize. And probably I am. But that's not all I am. I am also okay with being a bit oblivious (I'm still tracking what's important to me, like what Josie's favorite color of crayon is this week), I can often fight my way back to optimism, and I'm blessed with a healthy and loving and smart and interesting family of origin, two assertive, affectionate and beguiling daughters, a good and loving man who tries his hardest to be what everyone needs of him and who is a fantastic father, and a small passel of great friends. I am also, as of this year, making real money as a writer, because I asked the universe for it and prepared for it.

So yeah, I'd like more cosmos and some strappy sandals in my life. But if it meant I'd have to trade in my new life, I'd just as soon pass, and watch it on TV in my sweats instead.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Mama Adventure #2: Reviving Your Style

We Mamas have so many things to be thankful for as we reflect on last year and turn our energies toward the new. Kids, partners, projects, friends, family, each other - all those people and things in our lives that renew us and keep us engaged.

One thing we tend to miss, though, is our own sweet selves. I'm not saying we neglect ourselves entirely - there's too much zeitgeist these days around mamas taking care of ourselves to claim that the world expects us to just sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice. But we do still spend less time on ourselves than anything or anyone else.

What suffers? Among many other things, our sense of style. From the days of wearing maternity clothes long after we've given birth (come on, you know we all do it)to an absolute lack of time in those infant/toddler months for anything like styling our hair or getting pedicures, to the sag in our once perky bosoms and bellies, it's a struggle to be a mom and a woman of style.

Claim it back!
So, my challenge to you mamas is to get back in touch with your style - whatever it may be. Spend a few minutes pondering your style, what it used to be, what it is now, and whether you've let yours disappear behind your Mama facade. Some things to consider:
  • How long has it been since you felt really good about the "you" that you present to the world?
  • Has it changed since you've become a Mama? Do you do less for yourself? More? Do you care less? (That's not necessarily a bad thing, of course!)
  • What makes you ...alive? ...energized? ...unstoppable? Is it when you've taken the time to blow-dry your hair? When you've set aside 30 minutes to meditate, do yoga or be outside? Or...?
  • Think about a time, or an outfit, in which you felt the way you'd like to feel most of the time. What was it about that shirt, or that night, that made you feel that way? Can you identify a "persona" that you'd like to "wear" more often?
  • How can you use all of this information to get your style on?
How? By putting it on your to-do list.
Once you've identified some things you can do to revive your style, take another five minutes right now and put three of those things on your calendar. Seriously - right now, schedule time for those things into your day. Ask your husband to get the kids ready for school once a week while you work out. Arrange an old-fashioned girls' night where you do each others' nails and home facials. Buy one new accessory that makes you feel great. Or just go window shopping so you feel more stylistically with it.

You? I'd like you to!
The boost you get from feeling more alive, more stylish, more sexy and less schlumpy will make the loss of whatever you had to sacrifice (sleep, TV time, getting all the laundry done, the cost of a week's worth of lattes) well worth it. You'll be amazed at how some small changes to your regular routine, that remind you to honor how you like to look and feel, will change your daily mood, outlook, sense of confidence.

I offer this suggestion not as a resolution, but as a way to be thankful for your single greatest gift in life - yourself.