Gossip Girl Grows Up: Blake Lively and Me
I keep seeing beautiful pictures of Blake Lively out promoting her new film, “A Simple Favor.” She is sensational. Radiant. Put together. Elegant. Gorgeous. And a mom of two. Really?
I can’t stop scanning the photos for some sign of solidarity, some kinship or evidence of her as a fellow mom. But no. There’s not a single Paw Patrol Band-Aid to be found.
Yes, I know this is only how she looks in pictures, many of which were taken at planned PR events for which she likely had a whole team perfecting her appearance. I’m sure her bucolic life at home in the country with Ryan Reynolds is probably quite different complete with tantrums, pretzel Goldfish and “Bubble Guppies.” But I’m wondering if she ever feels as frazzled as, well, me.
I’m a native New Yorker like Blake Lively’s character, Serena, on “Gossip Girl.” I’m still treading those same Upper East Side streets. My patent leather Mary Janes became L.L. Bean blucher moccasins with the ends twirled. Then purple velvet flats, a brief Doc Martens phase, clogs, kitten heels, Nikes, now Vans, a few Kate Spade sparkly heels in the mix.
I used to be a nice, normal version of the girls in the show, navigating the New York City private school scene. I could be found wearing my all-girls-school navy uniform with a Chocolate Soup bag banging at my hip, racing to the Lexington Avenue bus. Weekends brought roving groups of us in our rolled up jeans swarming up and down Park Avenue, stopping at pay phones to call into our answering machines in the hopes of meeting up with other groups, just like us. I went to parties at bars and clubs in high school like “The Crane Club” and “The Surf Club,” so by the time college started, I was over it.
But now I’m 42. Gossip Mom, more like it. My twins are approaching their teen years at break-neck, terrifying speed. My little guys haven’t even started kindergarten. I’m all over town, literally and figuratively. East Side. West Side. School events. Gymnastics. Doctor’s appointments. I keep having “Gossip Girl” voice-overs in my head as I sprint around.
Spotted.Running across Central Park at 8:17 am, a Pomeranian puppy in a tote bag under my arm. Too much traffic coming home from the Upper West Side drop off, so I’m sprinting in my khaki dress, hair frantically blown dry earlier that morning (in the kitchen!), make-up hastily applied, to make it to chapel on time with my little one. I make it, but stand in line outside the townhouse school with the carefully coiffed fellow moms, sweat pouring down my face, my chest, my back. Many of the same kids I went to preschool with are now there too, as parents. So much for trying to look nice.
Spotted.Walking down Amsterdam Avenue while reading the New York Postheaded to school pick-up. Occasionally I glance down to make sure I don’t walk into anything. By the way, the Post is from two days earlier. But I can’t miss a day or who knows what I’ll miss reading about? And yes, an actual paper newspaper.
Spotted.Shlepping a backpack, a tote bag and a black saxophone case down the street, a brace on my wrist — not doing the trick.
Spotted.Carrying my toddler son and his friend across Park Avenue, one boy in each arm, during a torrential downpour, smiling, laughing, yelling, “How fun is this?!” We get pelted by sheets of rain, not willing to be late for toddler gym class, breezing past other less daring folks huddling under awnings waiting for the storm to pass.
“Let’s do that again!” my son says, afterwards, smiling ear-to-ear.
Blake Lively stares down at me from a bus poster, her calm demeanor, gorgeous outfit and perfect hair mocking me.
Sometimes I feel like I’m doing this whole mom thing all wrong. I barely have time to dry my hair let alone get professionally groomed. Am I bad at time management or is this just what it takes to raise four kids? Is it worse here in New York City? Will I forever be running up and down the city streets to avoid being late for one kid or another? Or will I somehow figure out the trick to managing it all and look like Blake Lively, albeit a short, brunette, Jewish version?
Stay tuned. Time will tell. But I’m not holding my coffee breath. Tips welcome, Blake.
Xoxo, Gossip Mom