On December 5th, 1988, I gave birth to an 8-½ pound beautiful baby girl, Sarah. I was a mom for the first time, married to someone I wasn’t happy with. I wasn’t working; the plan was for me to work at home (I typed up ship specifications for a Navy contractor) a few weeks after Sarah and I were settled. Mitch was working construction, but not getting paid very much. To say I was a little overwhelmed would be an understatement.
I may have had no problem staying up all night partying, but staying up all night with a screaming baby was something else entirely. I was only 22! Where had my carefree life gone so quickly?
Luckily, my mom lived close by and would come over during the day to help me out. I could take desperately-needed naps, have lunch made for me, help with laundry. And of course, she couldn’t get enough of Sarah. Sarah was the only thing that got me out of bed in the morning.
Mitch and I had HBO; it was an extravagance, but since we wouldn’t be going out much anymore, I figured it was our entertainment. One day, while folding tiny little baby clothes together (how could such a little person make so much laundry?), Mom and I caught the movie Scrooged with Bill Murray.
Bill Murray was always able to make me laugh; I loved Ghostbusters and Caddyshack. Scrooged was no exception; there were plenty of hilarious moments that took my mind off the problems that plagued me constantly.
But besides being a funny take on Dickens’ classic story, Scrooged was also about missed opportunities and making the wrong choices. And I was an expert on both those things, which is how I had ended up where I was – an unhappily-married mom at only 22 years old.
But that day my mom and shared some laughs while we worked together folding laundry and taking care of Sarah. I loved bathing her, dressing her in cute little dresses and just snuggling her. But sometimes I wondered if her screaming fits were because she sensed how unhappy I was. I always felt guilty during those times; a newborn baby deserved being born into happiness.
Bill Murray played Frank Cross, a man who runs a TV station and is also a first-class jerk to everyone around him, at least those beneath him. Of course, the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future come to him one night to show him the error of his ways.
These aren’t gentle ghosts; Frank is roughed up, slammed in the head with a toaster, cracks his head into a door when he tries to follow a ghost through. The slapstick throughout the movie is great. When he sees his girlfriend during his Past trip, he begins to realize what he gave up,
I wasn’t aching over a lost love; I was mourning the loss of my freedom, my carefree days. At 22, I was too young to be having so many life regrets. I didn’t regret having Sarah, of course, but I was so not ready to be a mother. I had never been on my own; I had gone straight from my parents to marriage. Marriage had seemed the perfect way to get out of my parents’ house, but now I knew I was so wrong.
But Frank Cross finally made things right after seeing the error of his ways. He ended up liked by his peers and got his girl back; I assume he lived happily-ever-after. That was my goal – to be happy. And I finally would be, but it would take a long while; Mitch and I stayed together fourteen long months after Sarah was born.
My next choice would be to become a single mom.