I must be PMSing. That or I'm going through some kind of third-life crisis. Apparently this is what happens when people turn thirty sometimes but I'm already thirty. I don't even care about being thirty. Or thirty-one. Looking ahead has never freaked me out. It's the looking behind that does.

Or maybe it's just some hormonal shit I'm dealing with. The babies are eight months old now which means they've been in the world as long as they were inside me, which in the past served as a reflective time. There's something poetic about the shift, when the time between conception and birth becomes shorter than the months they've been on the outside, growing toward a new kind of sun.
Those are the only reasons I can think of this morning's breakdown on the way to drop-off. An old Pete Yorn song came on and BAM, it was eleven years ago, and I was on a train, somewhere between Paris and London, headphones on, sobbing because I assumed that traveling alone would be this idyllic thing. I assumed that I was a young adult on an adventure! Except. I found, after about six hours, of wandering the streets of Paris alone, that I was not an adult. Not really. I was not the twenty-year-old-Henry Miller-with-a-vagina that I thought I was. No matter how long I sat in front of Shakespeare & Co chain-smoking Gauloises, reading Lawrence Durrell and Sartre.

I told Archer all of this, by the way. I told him that when this "CD" first came out I was traveling around Europe and the UK by train and I was alone and I was frustrated with myself for feeling lonely because being on a train by myself was EXACTLY where I wanted to be! It was exactly what I wanted!

I wanted to be alone. I didn't realize how lonely it would feel. 

"... and now I'm listening to this song, remembering how it felt to be on that train and nothing really changes. Everything is different now but nothing much has changed."

It's kind of like how I never stopped feeling thirteen. I never stopped feeling twenty either. I never stopped wanting to be Henry Miller with a vagina. I never stopped wanting to smoke cigarettes. I never wanted to get off that train. 

And yet. I didn't want to stay on the train either. I couldn't wait for my fourteenth birthday. My twenty-first... I'll always have a soft spot for HM, but I like being Rebecca Woolf. This is where I want to be. Embarking on a different new decade. Without the train and tobacco flakes loose at the bottom of my purse. Not that I even carry a purse anymore. Purses are too small for today's life. Just like some songs are too big.

120. Life on a Chain by: Pete Yorn



Anonymous | 10:00 PM

I love reading about where you're at, Rebecca. Your blog is one of the few I bother to really keep up with 'cause I feel like it matters. Even when you feel loose end-y unravelly like it sounds like you do for the moment, you still sound articulate and like yourself. Holding it together, I mean. Thanks for sharing all of it. That's all I got for now, except I know just what you mean, about traveling solo not always being what it's cracked up to be...only lately I have to keep myself from idealizing it, since I've got my first little guy due in August and that's sorta thing is off the table for now. Btw I'm 36; this shit never stops. Be well and keep writing. Love from Brooklyn, D.

nicolette {momnivores dilemma} | 10:01 PM

Wow. That song just brought me back to the olden days of my 20s. Back before I was a parent and teacher, I remember promoting that record when I worked at Sony...

Christina | 10:20 PM

I didn't know I wanted this life. And then I had it. And I love it. Except sometimes I feel trapped. Everywhere I go I take me with me. And I can oft be exhausting.

I didn't want to quit smoking either.

Shelley | 10:25 PM

What a crazy time for me to read this post. I'm feeling so many similar emotions lately and, coincidentally, reading the letters between Henry Miller and Anais Nin. I don't have anything witty or interesting to say, only thank you for this blog b/c so much of what you say is what I also feel but don't articulate and I imagine many other readers feel the same way. At the risk of sounding cliche, this blog makes me feel so much less alone. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Sofie | 10:36 PM

Sounds like growing pains to me. Which would make sense, considering the tremendous changes that you have experienced in the last year. People talk about post-partum, which I believe is very real and most definitely linked to hormones and all of the other physiological changes that we experience when we grow another person (/people) inside of out bodies.

Nevertheless, I think that another aspect of having children that seems to be taboo to talk about is the process of grieving that moms can sometimes experience when we have kids-- we grieve for our lost freedom, our personal identities, our lost youth. This is what I experienced, at least, so I'll speak for myself. And I remember feeling so guilty and like a self absorbed a-hole for even being upset when I was obviously SO blessed. But life isn't black and white, is it? Life is multi-dimensional, layered, complex. Just because you are a super mom (and you are. We all know it, and that is why we come here to read your blog. We come to say 'wow, what the eff? This girl has four kids, her house actually looks clean, her kids are smiling, and she looks put together and beautiful? How the hell does she do it??) just because you are a super mom doesn't mean that you are not also still Rebecca. Just Rebecca.

Perhaps you are growing personally in order to meet the new demands of your now larger family. Sometimes when we grow, we have growing pains.

Please forgive if this seems like an unsolicited analysis. You have seemed, in your last few posts, to be frustrated with yourself about the feelings you are experiencing. I just wanted to say, it's ok, Woman, you are doing a good job. In fact, from a reader's perspective, you are doing a really, really amazing job.

onlyconnect | 10:43 PM

I check your blog every day now, sometimes multiple times a day. Your posts are thoughtful, sometimes conflicted, and true, yet they aren't mean, they come from a loving place. I try to live positively, to be happy, to be happier, and I relate to so much of what you say. Your last two posts in particular really moved me, made the hair on my arms stand up. I hope we can all find more happiness in our struggles, and thank you for your blog.

Aimee | 10:50 PM

I think I was on that same train. I loved it and hated it. Loneliness takes on a whole new meaning.

Little Gray Pixel | 10:52 PM

Great, now I'm back to my early, carefree 20s, all because you posted that one song. And you capture the way it feels so perfectly it was as though I wrote it myself (but I wouldn't be so eloquent about it).

Sophie | 12:44 AM

I don't know what to say other than it'll be okay. It's okay to feel what you're feeling right now...and it will get better. I promise. I was there a few months ago, when my youngest was also around 8 months. I believe it was linked to postpartum, and it caught me completely off guard. It passed after a few weeks and the bad feelings left just as quickly as they came. They will for you too.

Please keep writing. And hang in there. xo

Unknown | 4:22 AM

Love this. So often getting what we want is when we discover we don't know what we want. And then we want things we never knew we wanted. Woa.

Autumn | 5:16 AM

My mother told me you never really grow up and her partner, even older and wiser, agreed completely.


Sabrina | 5:23 AM

Your last to posts have made me realize that I'm not the only mom having these thoughts, these pulls. Thank you for sharing and somehow being therapeutic.

araseliz | 5:27 AM

Thank you for sharing. Life feels a bit similar to me--two kids, great husband, what I always wanted--and yet missing those old, lonely, single days--smoking cigarettes, riding trains alone--all the while wishing I had a family of my own.

Jen | 6:40 AM

I moved to GA (from WI) for a boy when I was 23. We lived in Athens while he finished up at UGA. This song was popular then, and it brings me straight back there every time I hear it. I also thought I wanted to be "on that train", but it took 2 more years and the worst broken heart and anquish I ever hope to experience to know that I needed to get off that train. Pete Yorn, man.

Kristen | 6:50 AM

What is it about Henry Miller? My favorite quote: "Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself." I'm trying.

Amanda | 7:21 AM

You made me realize that your not that much older than myself and yet our worlds are so completely different. That's why I enjoy this blog.
I understand what you're saying but I'm on the opposite side. I have no kids, no husband, and my life seems to be rather boring compared to yours. You make me look forward to having a family. I hope to be as cool a parent as you are.

Arnebya | 7:29 AM

It's amazing. I'm where I know I want to be (maybe everything else around me isn't how I wanted, but this IS where I want to be) but I can't stop thinking about where I was, where I could be now, the neverending battle to enjoy the here and now. And I'm not PMSing.

Abilew-who | 7:33 AM

Seriously. That song? I could have closed my eyes just then and been on my fifth gin and tonic, feet stuck to the ground, ass stuck to the stool at a bustling bar way past my current bedtime. I was probably drowning some random sorrow of some sort, wiping away crocodile tears I was manufacturing to make some dumb boy feel bad for me. Lord have mercy Pete Yorn.

Jenny | 7:43 AM

I cannot tell you how many times I've been struggling with something, only to come here and find those exact feelings mirrored and articulated (beautifully). I appreciate your honesty so much. It takes some of the loneliness out of the mommy experience, which can sometimes seem like a competition in perfect Pinterest projects and happy, shiny pictures of happy, shiny lives. Not that those things aren't real, and not that they should be taken away from, but you show both sides plus the grey. Thank you.

Erin | 7:54 AM

LOVE that song!!
The conflicts you are dealing with as a mother are so honest and I'm glad you are saying them outloud because I'm not. So, thank you.

Meg | 9:22 AM

I'm 32 and don't even have kids, and I still have melancholy times when I can't believe that those carefree times from my early 20s are over. You are not alone.

busy pretending | 10:38 AM
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glenda | 11:07 AM

I think as women, we all have these pulls. These tugs. The going back and reminiscing, still loving where you're at.

I think as a younger mom this definitely happened to me too. My kids are older now. I would ask my hubby is this our life? And so grateful that it WAS and it still IS!!

Paige | 12:58 PM

I love PY! And even now, with two kids and in my late 30s, every time I hear one of the songs from Music for the morning after, I am transported back to my single life. The music makes me long for those days a litle, but it also reminds me of who I was then, and now, and I feel empowered and happy. We are the sum of our experiences and those life memories never leave us.

Paige | 1:07 PM

Rebecca - have you seen this post? I thought of it once I read your post. Not sure if it will help, or is even remotely similar to what you are going through, but just in case...


CP | 3:40 PM

Yep - totally get it. Second kid was born in the beginning of February and I spent all day mother's day secretly wishing for my old life back - just for a moment. A 300 sq ft apartment on Santa Monica beach, great job, extra money and freedom to do anything I wanted at any moment of any day. Yet I spent that time wishing for a family - who I totally adore, by the way. It is only natural and if it wasn't, Dreamworks wouldn't have made Shrek - Happily Ever After all about the subject. See, even my life lessons now are from kids movies! It is nice to know that someone my same age just on the other side of the city is going through the same ups and downs. Thanks for being so honest.

Lisa V | 4:53 PM

I, too, have bawled my way across France on a train. I'm sure people over there are well used to it by now. Silly North American girls going over there, envisioning some kind of romantic grandeur, finding themselves lonely, smelly and broke. And crying.

I'm also guilty of spending too long looking over my shoulder. Aggrandizing what felt good, forgetting (or worse, romanticizing) what felt bad. I was really, really good at being a young 20-something, and I think I'm less good at being a mid-30-something. I miss riding the crest of a wave I felt I owned. Mom, wife... those are much more complicated.

Dianne | 6:37 PM

What a different life I lived when this song came out!! I too stayed out late and chain smoked many a night playing this song over and over!!! What I wouldn't give To go back and live that life with the knowledge I have now. Just one night!!!!

christine | 9:31 PM

My 2nd child is almost 4 months and I can identify with your last few posts including the one where you talked about how you needed that week of working out of the house, except that I would never be able to articulate my own thoughts so beautifully and precisely. I've been having such a hard time lately and I think it's mostly driven by sleep deprivation and hormones but also by this constant battle with how I feel and how I think I should feel. I just went back to work (3 days a week) and on Monday mornings I can't get out the door fast enough. Even driving into traffic at 6am feels like a wonderful vacation and I feel so guilty for feeling that way. And yet by the end of the day I can't wait to get back home. So badly that I've cried in the afternoon traffic because how dare it keep me from seeing my kids. It's comforting to know that I'm not alone but I hate to know that someone else feels this way too. Hang in there and I'll keep reading.

Melissa | 11:13 PM

I've been meaning to check out your blog for weeks. I finally come around to it and find this post which I can relate to 110%. I never said anything to anybody but the day I realized I couldn't think back on being pregnant because my son had passed that time was heartbreaking. I thought it was sick I should be happy he's thriving but there was this emptiness. It lingered for a few weeks until I finally either snapped out of it or it just went away on its own. The way days blur together I'm not even sure.

Amanda | 6:36 PM

Yes. Yes.


Anonymous | 5:30 AM

I'm in Paris several times a year on business. A French colleague told me she and her friends think the Americans who sit around at Shakespear & Co feigning nonchalance and sophistication are hilariously pretentious.

Carrie | 8:37 PM

I had a moment like this today. Different circumstances that I wanted and chose (early 20s choosing my independence over a relationship and traveling to teach all summer long) that felt wrong wrong wrong and terribly lonely despite it being what I wanted. I found myself driving alone (RARE with two tiny people of my own) and overwhelmed with
Everything is different yet nothing changes.
Must be something in the air right now... thank you for sharing.

Elan Morgan | 5:44 AM

I read posts like this from you and I think we should hole up somewhere for a weekend and lie around with our legs up against the wall like we did at 14 and listen to music and talk about the universe.