Since we left the city for the suburbs last April, people seem to be shocked that I don’t miss it more.
It goes like this:
“You must miss the city so much!” (head craned in sympathy)
“Nah. I mean, there are days. But, surprisingly, I’m really happy with the move.”
“Oh. So, you like, uh, New Jersey? How’s that…going?”
The truth is that I haven’t missed it as much as I thought I would. But, now and then, I do get wistful about my old life in Manhattan.
But not always. And not today. Not when it’s bone cold outside. Because it reminds me of a very stressful period in my life last winter when the morning ritual of getting two small kids to daycare in this weather pushed me to the brink of insanity.
At that time, my husband had a new job that required him to leave before the kids woke up and to come home too late to pick them up at daycare. And I also have a full-time job — one that expects me to be generally on time and pretty much mentally together. So these were character-building days, folks. If you had flashed back a year ago, this would have been my morning in Manhattan.
- 6:15 — Tiptoe out of bed into the shower so the kids don’t wake up. Promise God a new soup kitchen for the needy if the baby would just sleep through the night. Check Blackberry for work-related fires/crises that transpired overnight.
- 6:20 — Attempt to have five minutes of peace in shower before the chaos begins.
- 6:22:30 — Have shower interrupted by 1) two year-old announcing his arrival in the bathroom and opening shower curtain for morning conversation about Elmo, 2) six month-old crying in crib and 3) ringing Blackberry.
- 6:30 — Retrieve Blackberry voice mail. Check email again. Respond to three colleagues in Japan before they go to sleep for the night.
- 6:35 — Feed kids. Dress them, perhaps more than once if someone spills/vomits/spits up.
- 6:55 — Dress self, forgetting belt, jewelry or other random accessory. Attempt to dry hair and look presentable. Conclude this look is overrated. Fantasize about breakfast that will surely not materialize.
- 7:15 — Ignore red flashing light on Blackberry out of corner of eye.
- 7:17 — Assemble the following items to cart to day care: Bottles, diapers, jars of baby food, extra clothes (baby); lunch (toddler); various permission slips, medical forms that are long overdue.
- 7:30 — Pack breast pump and all related accessories for work.
- 7:35 — Wrestle toothbrush into mouth of two year-old. Oh and self also — must brush own teeth.
- 7:40 — Begin excruciating process of convincing two year-old to put on jacket, hat and gloves. Bargain. Plead.
- 7:50 — Ignore Blackberry.
- 7:55 — Strap toddler into double stroller in front of TV while wrestling baby into full bunting.
- 8:00 — Place writhing baby into double stroller, strap everyone in. Ensure that all day care items are stowed in bottom of stroller, breast pump on one shoulder and briefcase on the other. Put on coat, hat and gloves even though apartment is sweltering because 1) heat is not controlled by tenants and 2) body temperature is at 101 degrees from wrestling children into stroller.
- 8:05 — Dog! Feed dog! Sorry! Keep kids in stroller, wedged against open apartment door.
- 8:07 — Pine for coffee. Fear looking at clock.
- 8:10 — Negotiate double wide stroller into packed apartment building elevator, eliciting eye rolling and audible sighs from fellow tenants.
- 8:15 — Stop on every floor on the way down (13 in total). Sweat through winter coat. Beg two year-old to stop crying about being strapped in stroller.
- 8:17 — Arrive in lobby to find it is sleeting outside. Again. Find rain/snow cover thingy for the stroller buried under daycare supplies and attach it around entire perimeter of stroller while both children cry. Consider selling soul to Satan for coffee.
- 8:25 — Navigate snow/ice piles pushing 40 lbs of child weight in stroller. Resent feeling of numbing ice pellets hitting face. Panic briefly over possibility of a 9:00 conference call that may or may not have been confirmed. Will never make it.
- 8:30 — Realize, when strong wind comes along, that stroller cover is not properly secured and is now flapping about in the wind like a tarp. Stop on sidewalk. Drop all bags from shoulder and resecure stroller cover. Answer questions about trucks, buses and police cars from two year-old.
- 8:35 — Begin to display signs of pathological need for coffee. Food would be nice, too.
- 8:35:30 — Realize [any item — insert here] was left at home and decide that there is no going back.
- 8:35:37 — Curse out husband’s new job. Repeat.
- 8:40 — Manipulate double stroller through day care entryway and begin the unloading process. First, the baby and her supplies. Then, the toddler and his stuff. They are in separate rooms, of course. Chat with caregivers about necessary instructions for the day and kiss kids goodbye.
- 8:52 — Catch glimpse of clock. Feel early warning signs of stroke.
- 8:53 — Trade cursory niceties with other parents, who don’t seem to be experiencing the same type of morning. Ponder why this is the case.
- 8:55 — Break into sprint, carefully (watch the ice!), for the subway station. Check Blackberry with one hand while running. Assess just how late work arrival will be. Pray for expeditious subway experience.
- 9:00 — Curse out the MTA for delayed and overcrowded subway. Repeatedly. Question if Mayor Bloomberg *really* rides the subway every day or if his PR people are, in fact, that good.
- 9:35 — Arrive at desk in full sweat and without coffee.
- 9:37 — Begin the day. Repeat at 5pm for day care pick up.
Isn’t city life glamorous? My life in the burbs isn’t so bad on days like today.