Vivi and I really love going to our neighborhood playground. No, like, seriously.
If you follow me on Instagram, you already know this because we post about it almost every day. If the weather is above 45 degrees, we are outdoors.
Which isn’t to say the park is perfect. I mean, it’s a New York City park. If I had a dollar for every time Vivi excitedly held up a piece of garbage and I had to swoop in with a faux-cheerful, “Ooh, let Momma see!,” I could afford to buy a house with a yard and build my own dang trash-free playground. But, for the most part, it is reasonably clean and well maintained.
More importantly, it is frequented. Vivi doesn’t get to spend a lot of time with kids her own age, and while I don’t actually think it’s crucial at this stage of her development, I think she is more likely to learn about sharing and friendly interaction earlier on if she is at least presented with more age-appropriate opportunities. All that is a fancy way of saying that a lot of kids her age go to the park and I think it’s good for her to learn how to be around them without appearing to be a total sociopath.
There is one aspect of going to the park that I don’t seem to have cracked yet, and, honestly, it has nothing to do with Vivi. It’s the other moms. I consider myself a reasonably friendly individual, able to carry on a conversation with literally anyone if I want to, but, by and large, the other moms are just not that friendly.
I mean, it’s not like I don’t understand it at all. We only started going to the park after Vivi could walk, meaning we’ve only got about six months under our belts. That being said, we are regular. We’re at the park way more often than most of the snooty moms. So…I don’t get it. But recently I have started to notice more moms with toddlers Vivi’s age, and they tend to be much friendlier, so maybe it’s just a “stick to your own kind” kind of thing? Who knows?
Regardless, here are ten things every mom has thought whilst at the playground at some point:
1. No one is here…is it too cold for the park and no one told me? Am I a bad mom? I didn’t think I was, but here I am freezing my baby to death and– oh, wait, here comes another kid. Phew.
2. THERE ARE NO DRAWERS HERE FOR YOU TO EMPTY OVER AND OVER WHILE I TRY TO CLEAN! I LOVE THE PARK!
3. Don’t touch that don’t touch that don’t touch that!
4. I love getting a second to actually scroll through Instagram without worrying that my kid is going to do something cra– OH MY GOD WHERE IS MY KID?! I HATE THE PAR– Oh, there she is. Phew.
5. Is that kid crowding my daughter? Should I step in? Should I let her– never mind, she just strong-armed a 4-year-old. She’s good.
6. That kid is crying. That kid is crying and no one is helping. WHERE IS YOUR MOTHER?
7. My toddler is clearly playing with a toy that is not hers. But she’s also not crying, so I’m going to sit here pretending like I don’t see until the owner pitches a fit and demands it back.
8. I know the name of over half the kids here, but I couldn’t tell you their moms’ names for the life of me. “Oh, hi, Sam’s mom!”
9. I packed snacks, extra wipes, a towel to wipe wet swings, and toys for the park today. I’m probably the best mom ever.
10. Oh, you just want to play with that stick you found for 20 minutes? Cool. I’m an idiot.
I cried in a dentist’s office today. The office of a dentist I had never met before, so that will forever be his first impression of me, the frazzled, rain-dampened blonde slinging an equally rain-dampened blonde toddler before suddenly breaking down in a puddle of tears.
But I should probably back up. Because, if you know me, I like to think that it would surprise you to hear that the pursuit of dental hygiene would bring me to hysterics.
My morning started much earlier and several miles away from that fateful office. It started at 6 a.m. in my bed, as most mornings do since Vivi’s determined sleep regression. While not every morning starts quite so early, it’s usually between 6:00 and 6:30, and today was no exception. So she awoke and called me, I went and got her, and we both snuggled back in bed for a few more minutes of dozing. When I went back in my room to get my phone, Joey grumbled sleepily, “Your phone is bugging out.”
It’s rare to get a text quite so early, but this one was from our intended babysitter (who I had asked to watch Vivi while I went to the dentist that morning) telling me that her son was sick, and she didn’t want to infect all of us, so she couldn’t come over.
Not a big deal — kids get sick. The only bummer was that no one else I knew was available to step in. Okay, I thought, I guess we’re all going into Manhattan. That’s fine!
We got up around 7:00, and it was already clear that Vivi was having, well, a day. She screamed for milk, tried to refuse to say “amen” after our breakfast prayer (I waited her out and finally got a begrudging one before dishing out her eggs), and took off her pants ten minutes before we had to leave for no apparent reason.
Not a big deal! Toddlers, amiright? We started to pack up to leave.
Fortunately, I glanced out the window and saw that it was raining before we left. Still not a big deal! I decided to ditch the stroller and wear Vivi on my back (actually much more convenient for city travel anyway), grabbed an umbrella, and away we went. I honestly had no idea what I was going to do with Vivi at the appointment, but I just sort of hoped I could plunk her somewhere with YouTube videos for 20 minutes.
This is what I like to refer to as “the best part of our day.” A walk to the subway. In the rain. With a baby on my back. If that gives you any idea.
We got to the station as a train was arriving, but my Metrocard was empty, so we had to refill. As I listened to the sound of the train pulling away, I soothed myself with the fact that one comes every five minutes or so. We were in no rush! I had factored in cushion time because I’m me!
We finally got on a train and rode the 30 minutes to our stop with little incident. Vivi was intrigued by her fellow passengers and only started to fuss right before our stop. Phew. Is there anything worse than a screaming baby in your train car?
That right there? That’s what we like to call a cruel irony. Remember that.
I arrived at the Empire State Building, snapped the above photo because memories!, and approached the desk and told them who I was there to see.
“Oh, they moved out of the building three years ago.”
Cue: slow blink. “What?”
“It’s okay, though, I think they just moved right across the street.”
Okay, I thought with a sigh of relief. Call off the snipers.
“Oh, I’m sorry, they actually moved [insert address that will probably mean nothing to you but suffice to say it was SEVEN BLOCKS AWAY. IN THE RAIN.].”
My appointment was at 10:00. At this point, it was 9:55.
“RaaaAAAWWRRGGG!” I said. In my head.
Out loud, I said “thanks,” hitched up my baby backpack, and hit the street.
Seven blocks (did I mention it was raining?) later, I got to the building, rode up one floor in the elevator, and stepped into the lobby. I gave them my name and Groupon number (dental insurance is expensive, yo). The receptionist looked it up. No dice. She tried again. Nope. The owner came out and tried it. Nada.
“You had an appointment here?”
I show them my texts confirming, and he asks to see my Groupon.
“Oh, this isn’t us.”
A lot more conversation followed. Honestly, I can’t even explain what happened. As far as I understand it, there are TWO dental offices of the same name (but one has “Management” or something at the end?) in the SAME office space, but one of them (the one I wanted) is only open on Thursdays. Somehow, I had called the number of the other one. I should also mention that, last month, I also thought I had an appointment with this office and they couldn’t find it the week of. I’m now pretty convinced that my original appointment was with the right company (so I guess I missed it?), and that this whole office is a vortex where time, light, and sanity go to die.
Anyway, the point is, I had no appointment. After traveling for an hour on the subway and IN THE RAIN with a now-fussy baby strapped to my back. I couldn’t even make eye contact with the guy because it wasn’t his fault BUT WASN’T IT KIND OF?!?
He sensed my displeasure.
“Listen, you came all this way, what I can do is give you a cleaning here for the cost of the Groupon. It’s actually a better deal because our cleanings are more expensive. It’s probably a blessing in disguise [Note: He actually said those words. He was probably right, but it still made me want to kick him in the shin.] because I don’t think you would have been very happy with a cleaning with the other office.”
I took a deep breath and said fine, mentally balancing my checkbook with this unexpected expense factored in.
At this point, the correct office returned my phone call (I had tried to call during the “where are you located exactly” mix-up).
“Hi, I missed a call from this number?”
“Yeah, I had an appointment, and I’m at your office, but no one is here and…”
“Oh, no, we’re closed today.”
“I. Know. But I had an appointment and…”
“No, no, you couldn’t have. Tell me exactly what happened.”
“Um, I called and made an appointment, but they said that they can give me a cleaning here so I guess-”
“Oh, good, well then I guess it’s all fine, right?”
And then I reached through the phone and strangled her. In my head. Not in my head, I hung up because if you don’t have anything nice to say….
The guy came back. “Okay, so what are we doing?”
At this point, Vivi grabbed a handful of flyers and threw them on the floor and my throat started to tighten up.
“Well,” I said, picking up the flyers and trying to shove them back into their display, “I came all this way in the rain with my baby, so I guess we’re sticking with this new plan because if I don’t get my teeth cleaned I’m going to start crying.”
And then I burst into tears.
So, yeah, not my proudest. But, to their credit, the people in the office could NOT have been nicer to me. I was handed tissues and bottles of water, and the receptionist popped up telling me about her four grandchildren and how this was her lucky day because she was going to watch Vivi for me. I was quickly ushered into a cleaning room, where a nice (and obviously prepped for the crazy woman in her chair) dentist checked my x-rays and cleaned my teeth (“We’re going to use this water pick because it’s much faster so you guys can get out of here.”). The hygienist kept sneaking me tissues and asking me if I was okay. (OBVIOUSLY NOT BUT I’M WORKING ON IT.)
By the end of the cleaning, I felt better. Calmer. I actually really like getting my teeth cleaned, so that helped. And, hey, no cavities. So that’s something.
I went out to the desk, and Vivi was happily sitting on the receptionist’s lap, watching videos and eating pretzels (they had asked before giving them to her). Basically, her best day ever.
I apologized to everyone for acting like a crazy person (“Don’t worry! It’s just the rain!”) and thanked them profusely. Heck, I booked a six-month follow-up cleaning because I felt indebted to them. Then I quickly strapped Vivi back on and ran shame-faced from the office. (Back into the rain.)
And THAT is where this story should end. But, because I live where I live, I had to get back on the train. I got to the station just as my train was leaving (again)(because of course), so we waited on the platform for the next one to arrive. We got on…and made it two stops before Vivi started pitching the world’s most epic meltdown.
For the record, my kid doesn’t really do meltdowns. She’ll yell and throw a fit sometimes, but always for a pretty easily identifiable reason and almost always with a 2- to 3-minute time limit. I take no credit for this; she’s just a mostly good kid.
This was different. Vivi screamed and thrashed like she had a scorpion in her diaper, and, honestly, it freaked me out a little.
You know who else was freaked out? Everyone else trapped in the train car with the demon baby.
I took her out of the carrier. Still screaming. I offered her a snack. Still screaming. I offered her water. Still screaming. (And hitting me.) We were THANK GOODNESS on an express train home, but it still meant 15 solid minutes of tortured screaming. More than one person got up an moved away from us in the car, but the majority were too polite and just threw me sympathetic stares. Because is there anything worse than a screaming baby in your train car?
I didn’t freak out. I wrestled her thrashing and took off her jacket, not sure if she was just overheating or something. She kicked off a shoe, so I took the other one off too. Nothing helped.
We finally, finally made it to our stop. Vivi stopped crying as soon as we stepped out of the car, but by then it was obviously of little help. There was no where to set my stuff to get her back into the carrier, so we walked the 10-minutes home (in the RAIN) with my juggling the umbrella and my now still occasionally crying baby. I probably looked like a regretful kidnapper.
We finally got home. IT WAS ONLY 11:58 A.M. I called Joey to tell him the story and promptly started sobbing, which freaked Vivi out and made her start crying too.
For everyone’s sake, I pulled myself together.
So, yeah. That’s the end of the story. I’m letting Vivi watch TV while I type this out because catharsis. And, also, I’m kind of done for today? Plus, listening to her actually singing along with the songs (so cute!) is making me love her again, so I’ll take it. Anyway, I’m exhausted, still slightly damp, and pretty sure I’m never leaving this apartment again.
But dang are my teeth clean.
I’ll admit I’m a little burnt out on New York these days. This upcoming spring, I’ll have lived here eight years. It’s two years shy of how long I said would live in New York, but about three years longer than I thought I would make it half a decade ago.
Obviously, there are things to love about this city. But — and I’m being honest here — the longer I am here, the harder it is for me to remember those things. Or maybe even care about those things.
Do I care about the access to any kind of shopping? I buy all my clothes in thrift stores/online thrift stores or through online sales anyway. Do I care about the shows and concerts? I see something on Broadway once in a blue moon now, and I am rarely willing to battle the crowds to do anything notable going on in the city. Do I care about the restaurants? Eating out is almost as rare as the Broadway shows.
I would miss Seamless legitimately. But, honestly, that just makes me kind of sad to say out loud. I’ll miss the thing that lets me be extra lazy and spend extra money.
It’s probably not surprising, but motherhood has made me roll my eyes a little bit harder at NYC. Because it is hard to be a mom here, folks.
It’s hard to take your baby out, because you are either schlepping them on your back in a carrier (which I honestly don’t mind because at least I can navigate easily, but it is super sweaty in the summer) or trying to maneuver a stroller down busy sidewalks, through a million doorways, or up and down subway steps. It’s hard to figure out things to do with your baby because everything baby-centric is expensive and everything non-baby-centric is…not baby friendly.
I can’t tell you how thrilled I am sometimes when Vivi and I finish our errands (don’t even get me started on the difficulty of doing laundry in the city with a baby…) and I can look at her and say, “And now we don’t have to go anywhere for the rest of the day!”
I mean…that is not why I moved to New York.
So, yeah, I fantasize about motherhood in the burbs. I dream of a garage and in-home laundry and a real backyard and an accessible Target.
But I’m trying to be content and appreciate the good things (like parks within walking distance and a cute coffee shop on every corner to fuel mornings-after-sleepless-nights).
Other NYC mommas out there: Do you feel me? Do you have suggestions for making life a little easier?
We need to talk about something. And, judging by the title of this post, I hope you recognize the seriousness.
You have to admit, that’s a pretty good title. Intrigue.
So, what is it? What is this thing so terrible, so insidious that no one even wants to let the words cross their lips lest they incur the wrath of the metropolitan gods?
The struggle that is getting packages delivered to NYC apartments.
Well, while those things may be worse things about living in New York, I’m pretty sure that, when you mentioned to your college roommate who currently lives in a Brooklyn apartment with two roommates that you were thinking of moving to the East Coast, she or he kindly let you know about those particular realities.
What I’m better he or she did not mention? You can kiss that blind faith you’ve had in the postal system goodbye.
Listen. I’m not trying to knock postal workers. They have tough, tough jobs. Through rain, sleet, snow, and darkest night? That sounds brutal.
But the thing is…that is the oath, right? So…why do I feel like no one really takes it seriously?
Let me tell you a few things you are guaranteed to experience if you live in New York for at least a calendar year:
#1: You will never receive at least one package for no apparent reason.
And the real kicker will be that no one will be able to tell you what went wrong. And you may or may not ever get a free replacement. It will just be gone. Forever. AND YOU WILL BE HELPLESS.
#2: You will have at least one package stolen from you.
I freely admit that occurrence #2 could be the cause of occurrence #1.
You know why? Because people are TERRIBLE. I have a dear friend who has actually tried to go door-to-door in her building seeking out who the good-for-nothing thieves are, but her husband stops her every time. I mean, he’s probably right. (These are good-for-nothing thieves, after all…who knows what they’re capable of.) BUT STILL.
The truly annoying part is that you’ll call up your building management to complain, and they will essentially feed you their version of “there’s nothing we can do.” And as much as that infuriates you, in this case, it’s probably actually true.
Just kidding — it’s never actually true. They could make sure your broken vestibule door is repaired. They could install security cameras. They could provide you with secure mailboxes. But all of those things cost money, so they’re never going to happen.
#3: You will have packages “returned” on your behalf.
This has actually happened to be a couple of times in the last couple of months, so it’s a fresh wound. (Would I go so far as to call it the inspiration for this post because it happened this morning? Why, yes, I suppose I would.)
What happens is that, for whatever reason, the delivery service does not feel up to delivering your package. Maybe it was too heavy. Maybe they forgot to deliver it when they dropped off your other stuff, and now the thought of going all the way back to your apartment is just too much for them. We may never know. The point is, the shipper will make the judgment call that your good should just go back from whence they came. You won’t even know it happened until you receive the email confirmation of your return. At which point you will think, “That is curious. Because I never received a product to return. Hmmm…”
If you’re lucky, the company who sent your product will have already issued a refund so you can reorder your item. If you’re only marginally lucky, you will still have to spend half an hour on the phone with no fewer than three customer service reps to get your item reordered and then have to wait a week to get it anyway. Hypothetically.
The point is, there are few things in day-to-day life that make you feel quite so helpless as trying (and failing) to get a package delivered to you in New York City. And once you’ve suffered any of these occurrences, you’ll place all your orders like someone eating salmon who has already choked on a fish bone: very carefully and with a hefty dose of suspicion and doubt.
I just thought you should know. In case no one has told you yet.
When you find yourself pregnant in a big city, you have a number of initial concerns:
How will I find the right doctor with so many options?
Can I fit a baby in my current apartment?
Ewww is that a condom on the ground of my neighborhood playground??
And, of course, the most popular and pressing:
Is anyone ever going to offer me a seat on public transportation?
That last one is especially curiosity-inducing because even women who aren’t pregnant usually want to know. I get asked all the time what the response has been, and I’m actually happy to report that I get offered a seat a lot more often than I thought I would.
But that does NOT mean I always get offered a seat. No, ma’am, it does not.
Because I am a woman of the people, I thought I’d put together a little list of who will (and who will not) generally offer a pregnant woman a seat on the subway (or bus or train or whatever public transport you prefer). That way, if you ever get knocked up, you’ll know who to stand next to whilst overacting back aches and overemphasizing your belly. Hypothetically.
You probably WILL get a seat from…young professional-looking women.
Gals in the 20-30 range who look like they’re commuting to or from work are usually your best bet. For one, they tend to not be as consumed in their phones as their teen counterparts, but they’re not so far off from the life stage of pregnancy themselves that they can’t sympathize. (If they’ve had a kid themselves, they can definitely feel you on your swollen feet and tired body.) The solidarity I feel with these ladies is actually a sweet moment in a city known for it’s selfishness. Props to women who support (and give seats to pregnant) women!
That being said…
You probably WON’T get a seat from…women who don’t like children and/or women over 40.
I know, I know, “women who don’t like kids” is hard group to describe and spot. But you’ll know them the second they glance at your swollen belly and then wrinkle their nose before deliberately avoiding your gaze. I mean, they didn’t get you pregnant. Why is this their problem? As for my middle-aged ladies…I can’t explain it. Maybe they also don’t like kids, maybe they’re just tired. But whatever the reason, they tend to hold their peace and their seat. Go with God. (Or something.)
You probably WILL get a seat from…old men.
And you will struggle with whether or not to take the seat. Because this is the type of person you would normally have given up a seat to. But if you’re really dead tired and a wrinkly old man struggles to his feet the second he sees your rotund-ness, you will probably take this dying breed of gentleman up on his offer (after thanking him profusely, of course).
You probably WON’T get a seat from…men over 30 in business suits (especially not if they’re over 40).
I hate to generalize on the FiDi bro crowd, but business men are notoriously too busy and important to give up their precious subway seat. The kicker is that they will stare at your belly for a few minute, then make fleeting eye contact before quickly looking away and going back to pretending to be asleep or answering emails on their smart phones. (But I know which stations have wifi, pal. You’re not fooling anyone.) You just let me know the next time your business deal results in the creation of life, pumpkin, and then we’ll compare notes as to who had a tougher day, k?
You MIGHT get a seat from…men in their 20s and early 30s who aren’t wearing suits.
This group really is a toss-up. The issue most of the time is that they rarely look up from their phones to even notice you standing there growing a human in your belly. I also like to give them the benefit of the doubt that it has been PUMMELED into their brain to never assume a lady is pregnant unless she actually tells you so, and they’re worried about possibly offending you. So, a lot of the time, they stay seated. It also has to be said that they’re much more likely to offer a seat if they’re not white. Sorry, white dudes, y’all will sit there staring at my stomach — fascinated — for the entirety of the ride without even pretending to get up. And we both know that I know that you know.
You definitely WON’T get a seat from…teenagers.
Chivalry actually is dead amongst the sub-twenties set. You could literally go into labor in front of them, and they’d probably just pull out their phone to capture the moment on SnapChat while shouting, “OMG GROSSSSSS.” Teenagers. Ugh.
Now, obviously this is based entirely on anecdotal experience. So tell me: If you’ve been pregnant, who did you find was more or less likely to give you a seat? I’d actually love to hear stories of subway heroes who broke the stereotype!
I tend to get the same response in New York (and really, most places) when I tell people I grew up in Iowa.
“Wow, that must have been some kind of culture shock, huh?”
“Iowa? IO-wa? So you grew up on a farm?
“Where is Iowa?”
In general, I shrug, duck my head with a Midwestern humility, and reply, “Well, it’s different, of course, but not as different as you would think.”
Because, really, I’m from Iowa, but I didn’t grow up even close to a farm. Unless you count the research powerhouse DuPont Pioneer, which did technically grow acres of corn a stone’s throw from my front door and high school. (I, obviously, do not.)
To their credit, though, these curious non-Midwesterners do have a point: Life in New York is pretty different from life in Iowa. But probably not for the reasons they think.
Here, in no particular order, are the things I miss the most about my Iowa life:
1. Drive-through Starbucks
Drive-throughs in general are much harder to come by in the city, most likely because only the certifiably insane (and/or taxi drivers) bother with cars in the city. I do, though, wish the drive-through coffee shop would make its way to the outer boroughs.
If you’ve never experiences the utter euphoria of getting to stay in your warm car during the dead of winter while you scoop up a latte, all I can tell you is that it makes you feel like you’ve done something right with your life.
2. Big parking lots
If I go the rest of my life without ever circling for street parking, a blaring brigade of cars barreling up behind me, only to break into a cold sweat as I try to maneuver into a parallel parking spot just a couple of inches too small for my car, it will be too soon.
You know how we handle those situations in the Midwest? WE DON’T. We just swoop into the entrance of the nearest sprawling parking lot and take our pick of spots. Our biggest stress? That we will have to walk and extra 20 feet because all the “good” spots are taken.
Here’s something I’ve learned in New York: ANY parking lot spot is a “good” spot when the alternative is a parallel parking spot next to a heap of yesterday’s trash.
3. A convenient Target
Now, we do have Target in New York. You just have to trek to Brooklyn or Long Island or a distant mall in Queens to get to it.
Do you want to know how far I had to travel to get to Target from my parents’ house in Iowa? Five minutes. It was literally on the same street as their neighborhood. In fact, you had to pass a few OTHER superstores to even get to the Target. (But we all know the Target was what you were really after anyway.)
And once you got there? You just cruised into the giant parking lot, found a spot, and grabbed a latte from Starbucks on your way in the door.
What I’m saying is, yes, moving to New York was a lifestyle change. But I’m not always sure which city is winning.