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FORTY-SOMETHING FIRST-TIME MOM | “And Just Like That… I’m 45!”

I turned a year older this week, and realized that I have only five more years to write for this column until the title expires. Five more years before I turn fifty! What a coincidence that I just finished bingeing on the entire two seasons of And Just Like That which is a celebration of the 50-something woman. AJLT is something I really have to write about because it just happens to be the sequel to the seminal series Sex And The City.

SATC was my bible when I was a twenty-something single girl in Metro Manila. Like Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha, I was just looking for my One True Love in the big city. They were in their 30s in the storyline so I always felt that I had a big sister in these characters. And I always defended that the show was not about sex despite having the word in its title. It was a storytelling device to talk about falling in love, getting hurt, finding love again, and the craziness in between, all through the lens of this woman named Carrie whose life she uses as material for her column. Does that sound familiar? Yes, I’ve always wanted to write a column like hers. And here is my sophomoric attempt.

Almost 20 years since the series ended in 2004, they are back and they have evolved. And just like how I have seen parts of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha in me back then, the wisdom in this new show is helping me in come in terms with my early mid-life crisis.

Warning! Spoilers ahead!

AJLT picks up from where Carrie and Big left off. As all SATC fans know, Carrie finally ended up with Mr. Big who was the Mr. Darcy to her Elizabeth Bennet. And then they got married in the movie version in 2008 – the same year I also said “I Do” to my own Mr. Darcy slash Mr. Big. And just when we thought the show finally gave us the Happily Ever After we could aspire for, AJLT kick starts Carrie’s journey by turning her into a widow.

Grief has been a popular theme in many of the better TV series and films that came out lately, but AJLT is not simply jumping on the bandwagon. The grieving part is not just about losing a loved one through death. It is about losing many treasured things but not simply acknowledging it as tragedy. Rather, it is the acquaintance with our truths.

I see myself in Miranda when she finds herself fleeing the cage of corporate law towards its polar opposite – non-profit advocacy work. As a matter of principle, I left a tenured teaching job that would have secured my daughter’s basic education. But I simply couldn’t continue to work for a company that does not value its people.

And speaking of work, I also see myself in Charlotte as she tries to regain her old self after motherhood and wifehood overtook her identity. Yes, I wanted to become a wife and a mother – that was the crazy pursuit back in my 20s – but that’s not all I wanted to be. Before getting married and bearing a child it was a lifetime of getting an education to pursue a profession. I have given up my surname to be a missus. I have given up my body to be a mommy. I need to leave something for me.

And just like Samantha being out of the picture we can’t bring all our friends to the next chapters of our life story. I lost my own Samanthas but they were good for their assigned eras in my journey. Fortunately, life gives you some Seemas to fill up that empty chair. They start out as work acquaintances and before you know it, you’re telling your truths over cocktails. But that would be more coffee in my case.

And as for losing Big and reuniting with her former fiancé, Aidan, I couldn’t help but see them as reflections of a marriage afflicted with tragedy. Big is the honeymoon stage. And Aidan is the real deal. Aidan is the love that takes on a different meaning in a marriage surviving grief. He couldn’t be any happier to be with Carrie again but he is also a broken man who needs space and time to heal. Romance can take the backseat for now. At the end of Season 2, Aidan promises to be fully back with her after five years, which he believes will just go by in a snap.

Without much drama, Carrie understands. She lets go of what is proverbially her most prized possession slash identity – her apartment – to mark a definitive new era. And I think that’s where I am right now too. At 45, I’m entering a new space in my career, my marriage, and definitely motherhood. And just like that, I’m finally getting my groove back.

Jill Palarca is a licensed professional teacher specializing in Media and Information Literacy and is also currently the chairperson of Media Educators of Mindanao. She is mom to angels Meryl and Lyanna, and rainbow baby, Andrea.


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