To be honest, I was never exactly Carrie Bradshaw.
My shoe closet was just never THAT good! But I was single, had a fairly glamorous job, and a pretty exciting social life. I wore expensive, sexy suits with high heels to work everyday. I ran around the city hailing cabs, shopping at fabulous boutiques, getting my nails done, going for facials and dining at great restaurants. Weekend evenings were at bars and clubs filled with new, interesting and extremely unique people drinking expensive drinks and dancing to the hottest, latest music. Whether hanging out with work associates or getting together with college friends, life felt fast paced and everyday was a new adventure.
Then I got married. Things changed. Didn’t go out as much. Ate in more. Spent less time at clubs and more time at the movies. Less time with our single friends (unless we were trying to fix them up) and more time with other couples. It was an adjustment but it felt right. Like the next logical stage in maturation and human evolution.
Then we moved to the suburbs. Couldn’t even get a slice of pizza after 10pm on a Friday night. We both still worked in the city so other than the commute, things didn’t change that much. We continued to socialize with friends and work associates and simply hopped on the train when we were done.
Then I got pregnant. And EVERYTHING changed. EVERYTHING. Nothing was the same. NOTHING!! But of course, I was pregnant, euphoric, delirious, clueless and scared out of my mind. There were some books that helped me through and everyone I met on the street seemingly had advice for me. There were baby showers, baby registries, Lamaze classes, maternity clothes, shopping, and getting ready for “the baby.”
Then I gave birth. Everything changed again. And this time, there was no end in sight. After interviewing 50 or so nannies, I decided to quit my job and stay home with my infant son. It had never occurred to me that I would make that choice or be in that situation but there I was. All alone with my beautiful, demanding infant!
I was in exile. My life as I had known it and lived it seemed gone forever. We didn’t know anyone and hadn’t really made any friends in the neighborhood. Our family and friends all lived in the city. My husband still got to put on his suit and head off to the bright lights of the big city. I was alone. And scared. And overwhelmed. And stupid. And insecure. For the first time, no one seemed to have any advice for me. No one seemed to understand. No one had warned me!!
One day I took the carriage and went for a walk. I wandered into the library and found what would prove to be my salvation. A mommy and me reading group. This group of moms and babies met at the library every week for a pseudo “book group.” At first, I was nervous because these people seemed so different from me. So different than who I was. Or at least who I thought I was. But slowly this group became my social circle. We got together almost everyday at parks, met for lunch, had playdates, went on day trips together. Everyone and everything seemed so foreign to me but slowly I discovered so many commonalities. We shared funny stories, advice, tips, recipes, and even some very private feelings and emotions. We finished each other’s sentences and at times, I laughed harder than I had ever laughed in my life.
These people understood me. They knew exactly what I was going through.
I don’t know how I would have gotten through that first year without that group. Although I have lost touch with many of them, I will never ever forget those angels – the women, babies and books that saved me.
Since then, there have been so many different stages and cycles. New schools, new classes, new activities, new teams, etc. But the lesson stays the same. Be open to new people and new ideas. Finding people in your life stage that can help you, who understand what you are going through, who have been there or are headed there, is absolutely critical in life. Being able to commiserate, laugh, learn and grow with others is the key to happiness.
The key to staying sane.
The feeling that you are not in this alone.
They might not be from the old neighborhood. They might not have gone to the same school. They might not have worked in the same industry. But there is a connection. An important connection that can help you get through the tough times and allow you to be connected to who you are and what you want to be.