Monday, June 07, 2010

Letting Go of My Carrie Bradshaw--by Jamie

About a decade ago when HBO’s “Sex and the City” was all the rage, my girlfriends and I used to cozy up on our sofas—often with a drink in hand—to watch the show raptly for 30 minutes every week. Though I was certainly not as glamorous as the ladies on the show, I did identify with many of their dating woes, and also shared their fierce displays of female bonding with a handful of my own close girlfriends. Like the majority of my gal pals at the time, I most closely identified with Carrie Bradshaw; I, too, was a writer, possessed several of her neurotic quirks, and, most notably had my own commitment-phobic “Mr. Big” in my life (or, well, truthfully, a few of them!).

When Charlotte from “Sex and the City” whined “I've been dating since I was 15! I'm exhausted! Where is he?” I felt the same way. But I didn’t feel a strong connection to Charlotte’s character as a whole: She was much more uptight and conservative than I was, and, aside from our shared desire to meet Mr. Right, she seemed to have quite different dreams than I had. All that changed last week.

When I went to see “Sex and the City 2” on opening day, it was like being reunited with old friends. Much of the movie was silly and predictable, but it was still really satisfying to see Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha continuing to watch out for each other, and experiencing many of the issues I’m addressing in my own life. There was one big surprise, however: Although I don’t have her money or her nanny, or even a husband like she does, I saw myself in Charlotte for the first time—and felt a hell of a lot more empathy for her than I did for Carrie. Funny how people change when they grow up—in the movies and in the real world.

For awhile after seeing the movie, I felt quite nostalgic for my “single in the city” days—the freedom I formerly had to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to, the incredible body I possessed from my religious and obsessive daily workouts, and the exciting men I was able to date day and night. And then I remembered all the heartbreak I’d experienced from dating dozens of Mr. Wrongs…and all the lonely weekends I’d spent doing nothing but working out and watching movies. Sure, I did have my share of fun times—with decent guys and without—and I will always cherish many good memories from my single in the city life…but I’d never want to go back. And when I watched Carrie and Big committed to being together forever—but with no children in their futures—I felt sad for Carrie, and, honestly, a bit disappointed in her. On the other hand, my heart went out to Charlotte, who was so overwhelmed by being a mommy, and who so desperately needed a break (but felt guilty for needing one); I understood her now. Some days I am her. And while I couldn’t muster much sympathy for Carrie and her problems with Big, I bawled for Charlotte—and cheered for her in the end. I no longer want a Mr. Big in my life (and certainly don’t have the patience for one!), and while it would be nice to have a Harry sometimes, more importantly, I’m content with just my little Jayda. Being a mom may not be glamorous, and it sure can be frustrating and exhausting, but my life as a whole is a lot more satisfying than it was back in the heyday of “Sex and the City.”

I’m not saying that children are for everyone—and thankfully, many people who would rather not be mothers realize this and don’t try to have kids. But I do think that parenting—with all its challenges and sleepless nights—has helped create a much better life for me, personally. Back in my “I’m Carrie Bradshaw” days, I wouldn’t have dreamed of feeling this way…but I’ve grown and changed a lot. And while, like Carrie, I think my life can always benefit from a little “sparkle,” I know I can get quite a bit of that now from my little gem of a daughter. And if I ever need more, knocking back a Cosmo every now and then with my girlfriends is all I really need to shine.


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