Mom's Got Her Thing Tonight

I’m lucky to know a variety of excellent women. It’s why I started MILK Podcast, for a chance to converse with and champion some of the passionate and fabulous ladies I come across.

Some of my most treasured women friends are ones I don’t see all that often: my gal pals from college, and they are a special little coven. We get together every few years for an unofficial reunion, and it is always the most replenishing and hilarious time. We drink wine, laugh constantly, tell stories about our kids and jobs, and of course, reminisce about who we were and what we wore while students at The University of Vermont. I always leave these weekends so inspired, so vibrant, with my heart so full. I remember things I had forgotten about younger versions of myself, and I’m moved by them, as if reconnecting with an old friend, and that friend is me.

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These women: Heather, Whitney, Aimee, Danielle, Lisa and Cressida, are unconditional supports. We live in different locations (urban/suburban/country/east coast/west coast), and aren’t all in touch on the daily, but our choices and values overlap. We share honestly and vividly about our fears and accomplishments. In one breath we feel 19, and like we live on the same dorm hall getting ready to go see Phish play in our student center cafeteria (which we did). In the next we are aware of the responsibilities that challenge the free spirits we all once were (how many types of insurance can one person/family have, just for example).

I came upon this piece on “The New Mid Life Crisis, Why and How It’s Hitting Gen X Women,” while researching an interview that I’m recording tomorrow with it's author Ada Calhoun. She also wrote a crisp and entertaining book of essays called  “Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give,” which I loved and highly recommend. This essay, however, is a bit bleak, -- full of research both scientific and anecdotal about why women in their forties, like me and my UVM girls, would or could be struggling physically and psychically in this mid life place. It is very much worth reading and discussing. 

Coming off of this weekend, however, where Whitney hosted us one night in her cozy home, and planned our meals and thought of everything, I felt so loved and tended to. The second night we stayed in a hotel and met up some other college friends, and it was pure silliness and reconnecting with that fun time freedom we all took for granted in our college days. Meanwhile back at the ranch, our awesome partners tended to our kids. 

friends MILK podcast Mallory Kasdan

Thinking back on our reunion and considering this piece today, I do not feel in crisis. Perhaps this is because I am privileged to have a partner who will watch my kids, and friends with the means to host a lovely dinner and split hotel rooms for a night. That is my pure luck in this life to be able to afford these luxuries.

But I wonder also if I am feeling less mid life crisis-y and more optimistic lately despite the constant drum of bad news and our dire seeming, violent world, because I’m feeling free to be myself, finally, at this mid life crisis prone age. Being with these old friends allows access to the previous selves inside of me that I’ve been able to embody or else retire. Conjuring them up is intense, but feels like a release when I can let them go.

“Self-care” is a phrase that annoys me for no good reason, but letting laughter and love wash over me, and spending face to face time with people dear to me, really felt that way. As moms, women, humans --  our many selves need care, and we deserve it.

happy + sappy = saphappy

Last week something unexpected occurred. I woke up every morning in a perfectly calibrated emotional state: energized, calm, grateful, and content. The realization of which led to something I’d describe as elation.

WTF is that about?

It took me by surprise. My go-to mindset since having Miles 19 months ago has been one of desperate tiredness and constant overwhelmdoom. Of course I’ve had laughing jags and felt pride and joy and love for my family and friends during that time, but mostly I’ve been blindsided by the exponential difficulty of upping the family ante from one to two children. It took a good long while to feel like I wasn’t freaking out ALL the TIME, and I certainly haven’t felt “relaxed” or “content” in a while. We’re talking like 18.5 months.

Last week Evan kept saying, “I can’t believe how pleasant you’re being,” which of course made me feel awful about what a Crabby Crabstein I must have been for the last bit.

Mostly, I credit this new excellent mind state to a good few weeks of getting enough sleep. It’s so ridiculously simple how much this can help a parent’s sanity that it’s trite and boring just to write that sentence. I mean obviously, humans need to sleep without getting woken up every few fucking hours for months on end. I was starting to get pissy at everyone in my path as the sleeplessness folded into itself night after night – bleeding into day after day. Because how could I be angry at sweet little Miles for torturing me at night for this long? It was easier to be irritated with Evan for breathing, my daughter for stomping her feet in all of her five year old-ness, my babysitter for being unclear, work for being slow, myself for not eating well, drinking more than one glass of wine at night and not going to sleep early.

Through the tiredness, I’d been working on the concepts of being grateful and present and feeling blessed for as long as I can remember – trying to calm myself and not stoking my own anxiety and ramping up the internal drama. I knew theoretically how lucky I was to have this family and this good life but somehow knowing wasn’t enough. I wasn’t feeling it, and trying to feel and believe it has been work for sure. Wrestling, trying, chewy, workity work. And then, something (nothing?) clicked into place last week and it was like all the therapy and the yoga and the analyzing were finally working. WORKING!

The same week, something else major was peaking. My friend David is enjoying massive career success right now, and last week the television show he made aired on MTV. The lead up to it has made me insanely proud and excited for him. I believe my people call it “kvelling.”

A few years ago, Dave decided to switch careers from advertising to writing. Not an easy thing to do, especially because he was already successful in advertising – he had made many hilarious commercials and was highly regarded as a writer and creative director. But he went for it – he sat down, wrote a funny book about finding yourself in your twenties, and then worked like crazy to have it optioned into a television show. I wouldn’t say he made it look easy exactly – there were lots of ups and downs throughout the process of the book being made into a TV show now on MTV (called “I Just Want My Pants Back”). But I never doubted that it would happen. He’s just that kind of person with that type of drive and talent. Smart, funny and lucky, with an amazingly supportive wife and people around him who wished him well, because he’s a good, menschy funny person who can find the absurdities of life and distill them down to good jokes in like two seconds. It’s just so cool that this is happening to him and his family. I am just seriously jacked up about this.

So on top of feeling good finally personally inside my brain and body, even if it's just about being well rested enough to appreciate it, and even if it's temporary, having such a pure kind of happiness for my friend on top of it really feels fantastic.

Sometimes it’s easy to be happy. Hopefully, it won’t make me tedious.