Once upon a time, there was a 30-something gal (yeah, that would be me) who lived in Manhattan’s west village with her husband and two girls. They lived on a sleepy, cobble stone street where kids loved to zip down the sidewalks on their scooters and skateboards. Each night, the sun set on the Hudson River, cascading golden rays of light across the water and off the buildings. Life was nice. And quiet.
Then one day, the building next door was knocked down to make way for a new luxury apartment building. Then shortly after, the building across the street was also razed and new construction began. Next, the electricians came with their backhoes and ripped up the cobble stones. 3 year-old Dylan began to plug her ears each time we made our way down West 12th. There is presently so much construction on our little block, the street is officially closed to everyone except residents. And then today, the couple across the hall began redoing their hard wood floors – a process that is quite loud and very dusty. It’s the first time I’ve really thought about a quieter life in the suburbs.
I truly love New York City. I adore walking a few blocks with Dylan to our neighborhood coffee shop. We rarely get into a car and can stroll to amazing playgrounds and kids’ activities. The restaurants are incredible. We are always running into friends. On Saturday mornings, we, as a family, head to our favorite 24-hour kitschy diner and enjoy breakfast, while we watch some of the folks who are still out from the night before. Each year, we take Dylan and Summer to see Santa Claus – at the Marc Jacobs store on Bleeker Street. When we hit the playgrounds, I hear French, Spanish and a zillion other languages. You’ve never felt so dumb as when a 3 year-old speaks to you in French and you have no idea what she is saying… but it’s wonderful. The city is constantly exploding with culture and life.
I guess that’s why it’s so damn noisy. And crowded. We went to a Halloween celebration over the weekend and it was a maddening obstacle course of children, strollers and lines. Yes, they gave out free chicken hot dogs with whole wheat buns and sweet, pink cotton candy but the line was a 1/2 hour long. I’d rather pay for my cotton candy. And maybe live somewhere calmer and quieter. Maybe.
Have you noticed that dog owners are stealing all the good kid names? Some of the most popular names for male dogs are now Max, Jake and Jack. As for female pooches, names like Molly, Maggie, Sadie, Sophie, Chloe and Zoe are all at the top of the charts. Yes, someone actually keeps track of this.
In my apartment building, there is actually a dog named Kelsey (which is of course my name, but I’m assuming she spells it with an “s” like most other Kelsey’s do). It’s definitely a little strange to hear her owner call out, “KEL-SEY,” and to turn around and see a big, fluffy, sloppy golden retriever come galloping along. Surprisingly, this dog owner has always had trouble remember MY name. She often calls me “Chelsea.” Lady, I have the same name as your dog. Where is the confusion here?
My friend Rachel who is about to have a baby in like a minute or so, says one of her favorite names (she wasn’t divulging the name) is taken by a friend’s dog. My sister-in-law Kimberly just named her baby girl Josie. I think Josie is an adorable, sweet name for a little girl. It also happens to be the name of my mother’s dog. I’m just glad Kimberly didn’t name her daughter Martini after our former dog. Now that would have been a little weird. But Josie? Not a problem. You can’t let these dog owners (I’m talking to you mom) have all the good names.
Of course, Rick and I swear we are never, ever getting another dog. But if we one day do, we are going old school like Buster or Buddy. Although the name Michael is nice…
My friend Anna recently referred to my children as “imaginary Mr. Snuffleupagus-type kids.” This is because Anna, despite the fact that she is marrying my very good friend Adam this November, has never met Dylan or Summer.
I’m always surprised when someone, who doesn’t yet have kids, actually wants to meet MY kids. I remember when I didn’t have children (although that memory is fading at the speed of an airborne jumbo jet), I never had the inclination to meet anyone’s kids. Is that awful to say? Of course, I would meet them and of course, I would fawn over pictures. But honestly, every kid pretty much looked the same to me and I just didn’t care that much.
Now I spend all day with my children. Did I mention all day? So when it comes to hanging out with friends (meaning adult interaction), I want it to be a civilized occasion. I want to hire a babysitter, go to a fabulous restaurant, sip shiraz, order the heirloom tomatoes with a hint of basil, savor the olive crusted sea bass and enjoy uninterrupted conversation.
I have on occasion tried to combine my friends and my children. For example, a good intentioned girlfriend (without children) will graciously agree to meet me at a playground so that we can “catch up.” But it makes my head explode as I try to ask intelligent questions, listen thoughtfully, keep my 3 year-old from plummeting from the playground equipment and prevent my 10 month-old from gulping mouthfuls of sand or any other debris she finds on the ground.
Plus the minute a mother begins to even open her mouth to speak to another adult, a toddler’s demand for attention is relentless. Dylan will utter the phrase, “Mommy, run with me” a dozen times before I can even compliment another mother at the playground on her cute shoes.
As a result of all this, Anna has never met my children. But I promise you Anna, they do exist. Just like Snuffleupagus, who is now visible to everyone on Sesame Street, someday you might also catch a sighting. But I’m not going to make it easy for you. You may have to loiter at some of the downtown parks or stake out my daughter’s preschool. It’s not an easy mission. Good luck to you.
mama bird notes
Rick Folbaum, our first contributing papa, shares the euphoric highs and the depressing lows of putting together all the necessary equipment that comes with children. To read more, click on “contributing mamas” under the menu bar. Sorry Rick, we aren’t renaming it “contributing papas.”
In Alex’s beauty diary this week, she introduces us to a fab hand sanitizer that is good for you, your kids and the environment. Move over Purell – there’s a new gal in town. Click on “the beauty diary” for the details.
For New York City mamas, check out a company that plans super cool events for parents AND kids. You mean, we adults get to have fun too? Yahoo! Take a peak at “drooling over this” for the scoop.
Finally, congratulations to my sister-in-law Kimberly and her husband Steve on the birth of Josie Lauren. xo
This morning, I was paying for my large skim cafe mocha, when the entire contents of my wallet fell on the floor of the coffee shop. Lots of change, credit cards, receipts, business cards and old photos were scattered amongst everyone’s feet. As I scrambled to pick up the mess, a guy bent down to help me and said, “It’s so embarrassing, right?”
Inconvenient? Yes. Time consuming? Yes. Embarrassing? Not really. That’s when I realized that my definition of “embarrassment” has really changed. Something about the experience of walking down the street, with a screaming, tantruming toddler, while trying to look like you are still a good mother, tends to make one a little tougher in that department.
The last time I was really embarrassed was when I was in my late 20s and dating a much younger guy (eight years younger, ok? He was really hot.) and after an evening of youthful romance, I had a umm… how should I say it… a huge hickey. On my neck. My girlfriends thought it was hilarious. I did not. Especially because I had to go to work the next day as a TV reporter and no amount of foundation was going to cover that thing up. So I ran out and bought several sleeveless mock turtlenecks (since it was the middle of summer) and wore them until my not-so-little love blemish eventually faded.
As a kid, I remember being embarrassed a lot – mostly by my parents. My dad had very big, very curly hair, an Art Garfunkel doo that made me cringe. And I thought my mother danced funny. I would get so embarrassed when she pulled out her best moves. For the record, I’m sure her moves were pretty normal.
So I wonder how long until I hear those words, “mom, you’re embarrassing me” from Dylan or Summer. Obviously, it’s extremely difficult to imagine because Rick and I are so cool. Yeah, right.
It definitely takes a certain boldness to change your child’s name at eight months-old. It makes for great cocktail conversation I can tell you that. We attended a few parties this weekend and ran into some acquaintances and old friends. Nothing makes an ordinary, “how are the kids?” conversation take a fun turn than telling someone that your daughter “Presley” is now “Summer.”
It’s been an interesting progression since we nicknamed her Summer two months ago. Many people were surprised and fascinated by the development (meaning, they thought we were a little crazy). For a while, no one felt comfortable calling her anything so I heard a lot of “the baby.” But the more we called her Summer, the more others gave it a try. I applaud our friends and family for making the switch. It’s not easy. We know that. My husband Rick is still referred to as “Ricky” by anyone who knew him in high school or his early years. Our 3 year-old Dylan still refers to Summer as Presley but I’m guessing as time goes by, that will fade.
We have no regrets. She is completely Summer. We will likely legally change her name before her 1st birthday rolls around. She, of course, will get older and someday (as hard as it is to imagine right now), she and her friends will talk about their names. You know the, “If I was a boy, my name would have been Finn” or “I always wanted my name to be Jennifer” conversations. And I guarantee you, Summer will have one of the best stories to tell. It will definitely be a good one for cocktail parties.
mama bird notes
Our contributing mama, Jordana Bales, is an accomplished, highly skilled professional who feels good about her day job. It’s only when she gets home that she starts to feel a bit incompetent. Girl, we can all relate. To read more, click on “contributing mamas” under the menu bar.