Month: July 2011

The New View

This morning, like most mornings, my travel path intersected hundreds of other commuters, a hand full of them working the subways for spare change, spare food, and even at times it seemed, just a bit of acknowledgment from another human being that they too were still alive.

And this morning, like most,  just after the one train pulled out of the Times Square station, a small, worn-looking brown-skinned woman set about a typical soliloquy of solicitation from myself and the other passengers. After a few minutes, over the edge of my book, under her extra-large-emerald-green- t-shirt, I made out her baby bump.

In the years that I’d tried to conceive, homeless women ripe with pregnancy, with a frightening regularity would find their way to me, our lives crossing paths. One memorable day, less than an hour after the stain of red had announced that we’d failed to conceive yet again, I spotted a middle-aged woman hugely pregnant excavating the trash can for dinning possibilities, a block away from my home. I stood in awe, bathed in tears, as a woman with less financial stability, no heath coverage, no access to a fertility specialist, manged to achieve what I could not.

Today, five years later, I saw, mostly, a sad broken soul bringing a new soul into the world. Today my heart cracked for her, and her alone.

The Agony of the Car Seat

I’ll just get right to the point. Yes, I know car seats are important. Yes, I know they save lives. Yes, I know infants, babies, toddlers, and children up to the age of eight in New York State must use them when traveling. (And “if the child is eight years old and is under 4’9″ tall or weighs less than 100 lbs, it is recommended that” I “continue using a child restraint system.”)

Yup, got it.

But the big old fact is they’re one big pain in the booty. Bulky. Heavy. And let’s face it, ugly. And you need a PhD to install the damn thing in the car, that is, if I still owned a car.

About four years before I actually became a mom, I’d started thinking like one before Julia arrived. And one day after I’d driven to the fine state of New Jersey for the high-end, luxury shopping experience found in The Short Hills Mall (I still get missy-eyed at the memory of the Nordstrom’s shoe department) I came to the realization after —I’d survived alternate side street parking, made my peace with forking out some of the highest gas prices in the nation, toughed it out among the city’s fleet of Kamikaze taxi drivers— however my car and I ,must part.

That day, as I had done so many times before, I came out of the mall, loaded down with bags in a post shopping hangover only to shriek“ Somebody stole my car!” then discovered a monster-SUV-gas-chugger had parked beside my mini ride. So after a six-year run of cruising with the top down, shifting like a pro, and sing a-longs to Prince, I sold my Miata, a vehicle easy eclipsed by SUVs, trucks, and sadly, most standard model cars.

Now, thanks to the car seat, I still experience car drama, without the convenience of having a car. So far, after getting a dark grey, super padded, Peg Perego back in April, the beast has been taken out of the house, exactly, once, to attend Easter dinner, otherwise it has collected dust in the corner of Julia’s bedroom.

Last Sunday I freed Godzilla to take Miss J to brunch at her Auntie Charlena’s house. On the subway. With the help of Aunt Carla, another brunch attendee, who helped wrangle baby and equipment, all went well. However, on the return trip things became dicey.
“ Are you sure you’re going to be okay?” Carla asked as the subway slammed into her stop.
“Sure,” I lied. I wasn’t sure of much of anything, other that I didn’t want Carla to go out of her way anymore than she had. And that I had to get my kid home ,by any means necessary.

Thirty minutes later; at 103rd Street, we exited the train. I climbed the two flights of the stairs. Not too bad. I’d managed nicely. However I’d forgotten that the downtown train came into the station one full level lower than the uptown tracks I usually traveled to and from, home. Another two flights? Yikes.
So I set out, performing a steady climb like a Sherpa, first one set of steps,  then the second set, trudging up the final angled levels, without the benefit of stopping or even pausing on the last few steps until I reached the cool, clean air of the street, covered in a warm lacquer of sweat. A wet shirt contest with a contestant of one.

As luck would have it, the one lazy doorman the building employees was behind the desk. He did not move from towards us. I did not open my mouth to ask for assistance. By then I could see the elevator, the salvation that it would deliver I, and my child to: the chilled air of the apartment. “Thank God I didn’t punk out and turn off the AC,” I thought as the lift doors closed.
The beast of the car seat in my left hand, a over stuffed diaper bag in the right, a twenty and a half pound baby strapped to my chest, if I did the weight calculation—even four days later—I’d probably weep at the total.

I  pushed the door open, dumping the car seat in the hallway, dreaming of the glass of cold white wine to come, after Miss J’s bedtime, I remembered, a few weeks back to when Julia and I were at my Mom’s in Michigan. Inside the cool, musty interior of the garage in Redford, I’d nearly crumbled in a fight with that car seat. Today I’d powered on. I must have known, deep down, somewhere, it was just the beginning.

The Second Coming of Mothers Day

As the nation celebrated its birth, for me, it was a day of remembrance, realization and warm reality. Eight years ago, I, at a little over three months, miscarried a pregnancy, a common enough fact that affects 20 percent of women. My loss, discovered during a routine exam, became my personal 9/11. In short order, my relationship of three years died too. In many ways, like the towers that once rose above New York Harbor, the life I knew and the one I hoped to live crumbled within that black, idol sonogram machine’s screen.

The news set in motion a long, lingering, march towards motherhood, which on paper had ended on February 4th, the snowy day that I brought Julia to the United States. However, emotionally and psychically, the road ended today, Independence Day, the due date of the baby I carried long ago, a birthday we never celebrated. Together.

Today I look at myself with eyes I usual reserved for Julia, a glow of awe, honor and reverence, relieved to have arrived in the promise land of parenthood.

Let the cherry bombs pop, and the silver sparklers shimmer and the arching light flowers bloom across my heart.

And to think I came so close to missing it.