Best known for her roles as Amber in Clueless and Morgan on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Donovan stars in the ABC Family franchise The Dog Who Saved…. The next installment is available now for digital download and is out on DVD April 8. Donovan will also guest-star on Melissa & Joey on April 9. She is the narrator of the audiobook for Sheryl Sandberg’s best-seller, Lean In.
Donovan, 43, is also a writer and yogi. A recovered anorexic, she assists in counseling and supporting young women struggling with eating disorders.
She lives in San Francisco with her husband, Charlie Bigelow, and their 22-month-old daughter Scarlett Avery.
Guess what? It’s MARCH. You know what that means? It means that not only have the holidays been over for three months, but we are about to be one quarter of the way into 2014.
For the record … (I realize that I have used the term “for the record” in previous blogs, and therefore that makes me a person who uses clichés and easily digestible phrases like, “For the record.” But, in my defense (See? I can’t stop), this is merely a disclaimer in an attempt to hopefully soothe everyone into being on my side.)
For the record, I had intended to write a blog back in December about holiday travel. Because nothing says “HAPPY HOLIDAYS!” like a cross-country flight with an 18-month-old!
Nothing says, “I NEED A COCKTAIL THE SIZE OF A SMALL CAR” like a cross-country flight with an 18-month-old. If you happened to have the misfortune of being on flight #___ on _________ Airlines, traveling from Raleigh-Durham to San Francisco the Tuesday after Thanksgiving — you have my deepest apologies. And I promise, if we ever meet in person, I will buy you the Prius-sized cocktail of your choice.
Oh, and another thing for the record: that huge diaper bag full of crap that I meticulously prepared with all sorts of new treats and gadgets meant to distract/feed/entertain/mesmerize/outsmart my child for the six hours I would be airborne? A total waste of space.
Morning dancing with banana – Courtesy Elisa Donovan
For some inexplicable, yet extremely less-than-fortuitous reason, Scarlett had slept a maximum of two hours the night before; which meant that I hadn’t slept at all. So by the time we boarded that plane at 11 a.m., we were both primed and ready for legendary meltdowns.
Before we even reached cruising altitude, things had escalated to such a pitch that I’m pretty sure I now know FAA protocol for treating passengers that are considered to be lunatics and potential dangers to themselves and those around them. That protocol involves greeting the suspect with a huge smile and a soft cooing kindness, all the while giving a silent secret signal that “the woman in 12D is a definite threat to everyone’s safety … she’s gonna’ blow!!”
The head stewardess (whom I will call … “Margo,” not to protect her identity, but because I was so delirious that I never actually got her name), kneeled down next to me and with a gigantic, circus-sized smile on her face, very calmly and evenly whispered, “Hi Ms. Donovan! I’d like to introduce you to Judy,” gesturing towards an older woman sitting across the aisle from me. “Judy is a grandmother of three, and she would LOVE to help you with little Scarlett!”
Storytime snuggles – Courtesy Elisa Donovan
My initial wonder at how she could possibly have known Scarlett’s name, quickly turned to dismay when I realized that Margo had actually taken it upon herself to look at the passenger dossier and learn my name, my kid’s name and the names of the people in the surrounding areas, before approaching me. (I imagine in the protocol handbook, no. 1 is: Call the psycho by name. This will disorient them and make them feel personally connected to you, therefore lowering the risk of violence.)
I know that you think I’m exaggerating, and trust me, I truly wish I was, but if you saw me holding my screeching and squirming child, whilst myself inconsolably rocking and weeping from exhaustion, you would have been at once grateful for your own sanity and terribly concerned by my obvious lack of it.
At one point later in the flight, during a very brief reprieve from her wailing and flailing, Scarlett grabbed a wipe out of my hand and started “cleaning” the carpeted floor in the aisle. This seemed a terrific and harmless distraction by my estimation, so I let her keep scrubbing. But then she took the wipe that she had been scouring the decades-tread upon carpet with, and started to rub her face with it — just really get right on into the skin of her cheeks — and then, triumphantly, she put it in her mouth.
Rather than consider the immeasurable list of germs that were definitely now scurrying down her throat and embedding themselves into her pores, I looked at my neighbor and simply said, “It’s good for the immune system.”
Here’s my point: I began writing that piece back in early December …
Then suddenly it was January.
And my next plan was to write a blog about separating and going to work, now that Scarlett is at the age where she is totally aware of my departing and arriving. I planned to write about how much harder it is now because she can express her feelings; and when I’m away from her I have that sensation even stronger in my body that something is not right, something is missing. Where is my heart? My lungs? My brain??
How even when I could be/should be embracing my time away and enjoying doing the work I love, I just find myself checking my text messages for the latest picture of Scarlett doing some mundane thing that, to me, is utterly and irrefutably awesome.
When I went down to L.A. to shoot an episode of Melissa & Joey (it airs April 9 on ABC Family, so you better watch it!) and I was only gone for a few days, I literally leapt off the airplane when I got home and couldn’t stop smelling Scarlett’s face. So creepy, I know.
Hockney at the De Young – Courtesy Elisa Donovan
And then it was February.
And I thought, ‘No! I have to write about these tantrums that Scarlett has started to have, now that she’s on the brink of turning two, and about how fast she is growing up.’ How when I went back down to L.A. for the first couple weeks of February (partly to record the new edition of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: For Graduates — buy it!), it seemed like Scarlett practically became a teenager before my eyes in the daily photos.
When Charlie and Scarlett arrived in L.A. to join me, I stood waiting in the street in front of the house (literally, I stood in the middle of the street at dusk) and half expected her to get out of the car, slam the door and say, “WHATEVER Mom, you TOTALLY don’t get it AT ALL!!”
And that was a week ago.
Which brings us to March, and the topic of this blog. TIME. Unless your child is having an epic meltdown in public — perhaps on an airplane! — at which point time seems to actually stop, and laboriously crawl by at the pace of an octogenarian tortoise (making you falsely believe that you will have eons of time to write a blog about how life-altering and upsetting the public meltdown is for you), unless you’re in the midst of that, time just soars by at an alarming and uncatchable pace.
It’s a slippery swindler, a tricky operator. There is never enough of it and it goes by way too fast.
Which brings me to another, and hopefully my final, cliché: Where does the time go?
If I discover the answer to that question, I will be sure to let you know. But until then, I will continue to be one of those crazy moms running around like a lunatic, always feeling just a little disheveled, just a little behind the eight ball, and just a little nuts … and I guess I have to be okay with that.
– Elisa Donovan