Tag Archives: children

Happy Father’s Day to the Mothers

As tough my mother was on my father throughout their lives together, and it wasn’t all misdirected, this Father’s Day, I pay homage to my husband, the father of my children. He is a truly good man, dedicated father, devoted husband. And yes, sometimes, he drives me nuts. And yes, he works all most of the time. But it’s for the good of many. Trouble is, I can’t help but see my mean frustrated mother shining through as I berate my husband for some perceived shortcoming. And then I pause, mostly, because it is father’s day. But of course, he’s not my father. I’m the mother of his children. They are the ones that should be celebrating their father.

I halt my fury on the heels of  Sandra Tsing Loh’s not so subtle message re marriage in the July/August issue of The Atlantic, the friend you wrote about not long ago here and Sunday’s NY Times Style Section review of single-mothers-to-be memoirs by Christine Coppa, a 28-year-old blogger and freelance writer; and by Rachel Lehmann-Haupt, a 39-year old journalist.

On the one hand, I can’t help but express my profound respect for single mothers, some by choice, others not. Circumstances aside, their courage and commitment to their children is to be celebrated. But on father’s day, I am reminded of my good fortune to have partnered with a person with whom I share the joys and travails coupled with a smidge of personal and financial expense that comes with raising children. It’s not so easy. But neither is marriage. Just ask Sandra Tsing Loh. Like anything, raising kids takes work. and a lot of it. No matter who’s in charge.

Pretty Faces by Jackie of Elmhurst, IL with thanks to etsy.com

Pretty Faces by Jackie of Elmhurst, IL with thanks to etsy.com

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Things That Make Me Think Twice

I was shopping for a baby gift for a friend who recently found out she’s having a girl. She’s over the moon about her pregnancy, and, her excitement being as infectious as it is, lead me into a cute baby boutique a few blocks from my apartment to browse and perhaps buy a gift for said unborn child. But, quite unexpectedly, I found it. The dress that I had get for the friend’s baby. The dress that I had to get for every girl baby in the world. The dress I had to get for my baby. Wait. What? The baby I don’t have and, until that moment, wasn’t sure if I would ever want to have. But life is funny. My future flashed before me bathed in a pale pink cotton/silk blend with a round neck, tank sleeves, and a bell shape. I suddenly wanted a child more than anything else in the world. Someone who may or may not share my DNA, but a little person with thoughts, opinions and feelings that have a voice all their own, but stink of my influence.

A male friend of mine recently told me his feelings on becoming a dad for the second time:  “I never thought I would be the parenting type, but for some reason, it really suits me. I like the idea of being able to control some small piece of the world, but do it from an egoless and selfless place. That’s nice.” In that moment, standing there holding a tiny dress meant for a six month old girl, I got what he was saying. 

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I bought the dress and took it home to wrap, but couldn’t bring myself to fold it up and put it in a box. I laid it out on my white chair, stretching the limits of the skirt to its fullest potential. I imagined a child wearing that dress. Not my friend’s baby per se, but a baby. Maybe even my baby. I wondered how long I would sit there with her on my lap inhaling her sweet baby smell as she fell asleep in my arms. How painful it would be if she woke up screaming in the night when cutting her first teeth. What her first word might be; her first sentence. And, as she grew older, the perfume she might wear, the books she would read and if she would be anything like me or anyone in my family. Would I see my sister in her, my mother, my father or grandfather? Would hazel eyes gaze back at me in rebellion or the blue or brown pools of my father’s/sister’s/mother’s eyes flash before me? Will she succeed in doing the things I did not?

But, then I thought of the world. Of things like cell phones and Facebook, text messaging and ‘tweens in skimpy bikinis. Of growing up too fast and not playing with dolls long enough or spending hours reading a book under a crab apple tree. And, even if a childhood lasts a little longer and is a little more innocent than my mind thinks, it still goes by in the blink of an eye. 

I kept the dress out on the chair for a few days. I got used to it being there, of walking by it every time I entered the living room. But then, I realized, it’s not mine. It’s a gift that will leave my hands and travel across the country to live a life and be worn, with love. I folded the dress carefully, wrapped it in tissue paper and placed it in a box. I wrapped the box in a bright pink and white floral paper, tying it with a pale blue bow to soften the loudness of the pink. I wrote out the card to my friend, telling her: “your greatest story is about to be written.” Her story is coming soon. Mine is still being outlined.

–Downtown

What Makes a House a Home?

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City Sidewalks and Childhood Dreams

Living downtown, I have seasonal walking routes. In the dead of winter I like to walk by storefronts to window shop and because I know they will be shoveled and salted to near perfection. In the spring, I’ll take any route that has me walking by the Chelsea flower market. Even when it’s still early spring, it’s nice to smell and see the promise of summer in all of the beautiful flowers and small trees. Summer brings me back to the storefronts, hoping I’ll time my passing correctly with that of a customer entering/leaving the store — a cold blast of air-conditioned air hits the spot during a humid day. But my favorite walk has to be past the Bleecker Street Playground. A decently-sized island of childhood bliss, the park boasts sandboxes, swings, playground equipment and, sprinklers!!! The playground’s happy hour is right after the 3:00 school bell. Moms, nannies, babysitters and (more & more) Dads stand around and chat pleasantly with other parents while their children play at complicated imaginary games.

As a 20-something with no immediate thoughts of motherhood, you would think the idea of passing a gaggle of post-school children would irritate me, interfering with the music coming from my iPod, but the writer in me takes over as I watch them play and I’m fascinated by what they create. Their imaginations are so strong and their visual sense so acute, I think they might make better authors of fiction than their adult counterparts — if not for nap times interfering with their workday.

Walking by the playground is a bit like listening to a pit orchestra warming up before a show. A few high squeaks, low moans and whines, and the clank of the wrought iron gate greeting the latest entrants into the park. The sense of electricity and excitement cannot be denied. Bleecker Street playground has a particular smell to it as well. Unlike the flowers that dot the nearby corner market, the park yields the sweet scent of child perspiration, the fragrant green leaf and bark mix of trees, and the light spritz of NYC water mixed with a rusty odor from the hundred-year-old pipes.

Chaos ensues when Mr. Softee pulls up alongside the curb. Children screech with delight — so excited are they to see the promise of sugar, that they run, wet from the sprinklers and shoe-less, onto the city sidewalk (I have to admit it makes me squeamish to think of all the germs their innocent little feet are picking up). But no matter, these children are oblivious to grit and grime and focused on how to get their adult in charge to fork over ice cream money. You can aways tell the parents from the nannies: parents carry wholesome snacks, while the nannies have already attempted feeding their charges the health food, only to be denied. Ice cream offers those caretakers the promise of ending their day without anymore (ahem) meltdowns.

While passing the park gives me joy, it’s also mixed with a little bit of melancholy. Because after all, who doesn’t want to be that young again? If not for just one afternoon.

–DT

hey downtown!

Hey Downtown. One of my favorite things about living in NYC is Central Park. Ok, it IS my favorite thing. It’s a crystal clear blue sky morning, temps in the mid-30’s and after taking the ten-year old to school on the Upper West Side (UWS) by taxi, I stopped for my usual decaf-grande soy latte on the corner of 72nd and broadway, headed west with a stop at Crumbs for a half-dozen Valentine’s Day cupcakes for the family and five beeee-u-feeeefull pink and whites (cookies) for my favorite police officer/Super and his fun police sargent wife. All this in anticipation of my cross-park walk.unknown-1.jpeg

I continued east on 72nd with a right turn on Central Park West. I always get a kick out of walking past the San Remo and the Dakota, reminiscing respectively about celeb residents Bono and rejected Madonna, “Ghost Busters,” and John Lennon , Yoko Ono, spooky Rosemary’s Baby and the Democratic party I attended in celebration of the Dem convention in NYC years ago.

All this to say, I love the park. As the ten-year old said while we held hands and rode in a yellow cab this morning (mohammed was our driver), “you can’t hear the cars” when you’re walking in the park. Yeah. that’s why it’s so great. The quiet, the nature, the Central Park South skyline, the solitude. Not long ago, the ten-year old and I bumped into an actor-son of one of our former LA neighbors. To say this city is small is an understatement. I’ll save that story for another post.

Today’s meander had me cherishing the sky, admiring Sir Norman Foster’s Hearst Tower and wondering why it is that CNN got the distinct privilege of attaching their graphic to the top of their tall building. It struck me that no other entities have their name plastered high above. Meanwhile, I stepped carefully and kept one eye on the ground because there are small piles of icy snow along pathways; a subtle reminder of the snowstorm that wasn’t night before last. While it started off with a bang, yesterday’s heavy rains dashed all dreams of a blizzard and/or snow day.

I passed a movie shoot along the rocks where the 10-year old and I watched Bill Nye, The Science Guy, last summer. Bill reported about our precious water supply coupled with consumption. Today’s stars were not known to me. A 20-30 something couple, he in a grey flannel coat, she wore a big brown mink coat. I thought her outer garment, with it’s symbol of wealth partnered with her perfectly coiffed blond main was an uneven match for his proletariat style. Soulful hardworking man meets soulful rich girl? It won’t work.

And speaking of movies, Definitely Maybe, which opens today received a wonderful review by A.O. Scott in today’s NYTimes. “Definitely, Maybe,” written and directed by Adam Brooks, is a nimble and winning little romance. As you know, the ten-year old, who missed a day of school last year “act” as an extra, ended up on the cutting room floor, but we had the distinct privilege of attending the premiere on Tuesday, snow-storm and all, and some of us went to the party at The Four Seasons to celebrate with cast, crew, production and friends. Much fun and despite not seeing the boy on screen, according to A.O. concludes “it navigates the choppy waters of modern courtship with commendable, understated honesty. Perhaps the best evidence of this is that this movie, unlike almost every other Hollywood tale of New York singles, was actually filmed in the city.”definitely-maybe.jpeg

The city where we live.

Exited the Park at 61st, just across from the Pierre Hotel. It always cracks me up as I pass the place, doormen, fancy people coming and going. Continuing East on 61st Street, I look in the windows of Barneys. Today is their “bag” day which means goodies are handed out with every purchase of $x.

I’m in the saddle now, settling down for another day of “concentrated” writing interrupted by peeks at email and facebook. I can’t seem to get a handle on the facebook thing given my weird “handle”: 70’s talk for my name. I tweaked it when the then 13-year old and I registered for an account in an effort to understand what all the excitement is about. Now that she’s 14, she still doesn’t want an account. Our mutual friend, yours and mine, encouraged me to join our “group” which I did… now I can’t get enough of the stuff.

So, a-writing I will go, coupled with aforementioned time-sinks, some basic “housekeeping” calls, downtown to order biz cards and then up to 116th for my beloved “news and journalism” class.

talk soon. xxoo