The quest to simplify while living in a city like New York is an odd one. And yet it makes sense.
The amount and variety of stimulation is overwhelming. Inspiring, and overwhelming. And more often than not, there’s the push to simplify, streamline, minimize, in every way, from activities, to stuff you bring in to your apartment.
And just when you get all self-consumed in your masterful quest to simplify, life throws a few little doozies in your face and says ‘smarten the eft up- you’ve got real stuff to focus on now.’
Real stuff- guilt. I am facing new flavours of guilt at this point in my life- guilt for working too much, or too little, guilt for exposing my kids to too much, or too little. Guilt for taking in too much, or too little of this city. Guilt for taking my kids away from the rest of their family.
There’s also an undercurrent to everything, insisting that I am making the very most of each day, which I realize how dramatic and unsustainable that is, although I do think that a healthy dose of awareness and appreciation is always merited.
There’ve been a few milestone moments over the last few weeks, and that’s likely contributing to a general sense of anxiety and being overwhelmed. It’ll pass, I know, but it’s also important to take pause for a moment and consider how these moments are impacting our unit.
A few weeks back marked the classic of all classic ‘bittersweet moments’- my first kid’s last day of kindergarten. Her lunch kit can be bleached, her homework folder can be recycled, her bathing regiment can be extended by a few more days in between (debatable given the sanitary levels in NYC). She made it through kindergarten, and she’s ready for Grade One in September. We made it. SHE made it.
I think back to our whirlwind move down here, all driven by getting our daughter into a quality public school on time, and being able to be a part of the butterfly-stomachy first day, if at all possible. Somehow the stars all aligned, and she was able to enter into kindergarten land on the same day as the rest of her 24 fellow schoolmates.
In life there are people who enter in to help at exactly the right moment. When you’re not sure how to ask for help, or even clear on the kind of help you need, certain people ‘appear’. Two people helped us more than we’ll really understand, or ever really convey to them- Connie, the Parent-Teacher liaison, and Dahlia, the sweet and nurturing Kindergarten teacher who gently and warmly welcomed us all the day before school started, when we went to familiarize ourselves with the school and the classroom. I will never forget all of those emotions, that first day that we entered the school- the smell that instantly brought me back to my nervous 5 year-old self where I had more stomach aches than smiles, but where both Connie and Dahlia met us as calm, reassuring, open and kind souls. It really is difficult to say who was more comforted by this- me or Nora.
Nora has made friends, she’s developed and grown her confidence, and shes strengthened her sense of self…and she can hail a cab while also recognizing all of her letters and numbers. GIRRRRRRRRRRLLLL. She’s growing up, and I know that’s the name of the game here if we’re so lucky.
Yesterday was another tremendously and surprisingly emotional day for me. Part of moving away also involves figuring out how you are going to still remain connected to your home, and to your family there. It requires active planning and it requires clear and timely communication. Normally those activities come very naturally to me, but I haven’t had to apply these skills quite as intentionally to family dealings as I now need to, and I’ve screwed up a few times. It’s a new game we’re playing in, and I need to figure out the new rules, and make sure my teammates (the family back home) also understand and agree with the new rules. Avoiding misunderstanding and disappointment as much as possible … Yesterday’s event had me bidding farewell to my baby girl, sending a 6 year old across the continent for 2 weeks with the family, the family who is beyond excited to have her, to get to see how she’s grown since being here, to reconnect with her on their turf, to celebrate with me at how much confidence she’s gaining doing this and at how many special memories are being formed by this trip. I pretty much fell in and out of crying all day yesterday, a mix of sadness at missing her, and extreme pride and happiness in her and in this very special experience.
Today I wake up much less insane. And using this time to enjoy 1×1 time with my son, something we haven’t really had as baby #2. We are going to the Mets game Saturday. And doing a lot of lego-building, baseball throwing and bike riding. And a lot of cuddling. Whether he wants to or not. Good for everyone.