Happy Halloween from Harold, his purple crayon, and the moon that went with him.
The ache of this month’s move from the neighborhood I love(d) has me reflecting on where I was last year at this time. Last October was hard.
Henry was 5 months old. He had just started day care, and I had just returned to the office. My heart was an open wound I felt inadequately equipped to protect. I also felt like a confused robot. Then one of Henry’s sweet classmates died of SIDS at home in her sleep. Then a friend’s best friend lost a 37-week-old child she was carrying. Then Marina Krim’s nanny killed two of her young children. None of these tragedies were mine, but they also all felt like mine, in a very small dose that I could handle.
This must be how people get through unimaginable grief: We all, through empathy, take on a little bit of the suffering for the people for whom it should be unbearable, and somehow they go on breathing, sleeping, doing, being.
I’ve thought of these families often this month, and I probably will for many Octobers to come. I hope it helps.
Goodbye, old apartment. We will miss you.
My commute from day care to work (and vice versa) is through our old neighborhood, where I lived on Friday – and every day for three years and two months before that. This morning I walked through
our the park and by Henry’s the playground and for the first time felt like a visitor.
On Sunday as my mom and dad packed up our final boxes, I walked from
home the old apartment to the drug store and saw only new faces. Even the drug store was having a grand reopening after a recent total makeover.
It’s easy to succumb to nostalgia when you are sitting, eating, sleeping, playing, living in the awkward spaces between half-unpacked boxes and you haven’t played at the new playground or shopped at the new grocery store or bought beer from the corner bodega or stepped on a stray bunny graham or read any New Yorkers by the new window under the new light at your new apartment.
I’ll post soon about what I like about our new home, but for now I lament the loss of bottomloss brunch and one-pound cookies a block away, of hearing the building’s front door open and knowing the person coming inside, of the group of older women who always asked Henry how his day went as we passed them sitting outside their apartment complex on the way home each day, of our walk home through Central Park, of our previous proximity to Central Park, of how close we were to Central Park, and of the short walk to Central Park.
With the grandparents down this weekend needing a place to sleep and the current disorganization of Henry’s room, Henry’s been sleeping in our bedroom so far, and maybe for one more night. Then the real move will begin.
Described in an article on being a good (or bad) sport parent, a Proactive Coaching survey asked college athletes what made them feel great, happy after a game. Their response: When their parents told them “I love to watch you play.”
From A Cup of Jo:
Isn’t that lovely? These kids didn’t want to hear criticism or coaching or even praise from their parents. They simply wanted to hear that their parents loved to watch them play. Kids get enough pressure from teachers, coaches, peers and themselves; you just want unconditional love from your parents, right?
I’ve been struggling with encouraging Henry without the burden of praise. Sometimes even better than saying “you sing so well” (as opposed to “you are a good singer”) will be to say “I love hearing you sing.” Which I do.
I love watching you play, Henry.
Since we live in New York City, I am obligated to say “we’re moving” in the following way: We’re movin’ on up [because we’ll have an elevator], to the east side [then farther north], to a deluxe [well, two bedroom] apartment in the sky [a few floors off the ground]. We finally got a piece of the pie [or at least a little bit bigger piece of the pie for the same price].
We are moving this weekend.
We moved into our current apartment less than a week before Tim and I both started new jobs. I got shingles a month later. A minor case, but still shingles. Shingles. I was barely 31 years old. Even though I felt I felt fine physically and mentally, my body was like hey a little transition time would have been nice. This time around I want to make sure I allow myself a proper mourning period. We’ve lived in our apartment for three years. It’s where, among other things, we dreamed of, conceived, and started raising our baby. It’s Henry’s first home, one he’s begun verbally recognizing a block away.
Our new place is a mile and a half away from our current apartment. Moving a few blocks in New York can put you in a new neighborhood, so a few minutes drive – or in New York City terms, a 30 minute walk – is significant. It’s a new neighborhood, a new daily commute, new smells, new sounds, new neighbors, new pizza delivery places, new playground, new mailperson to leave Dunkin Donuts gift cards for on Valentine’s Day.
When we moved into our current neighborhood, it was in transition [we could afford it]. New local shops, restaurants and bars were just in the beginning phases. When we got off at our subway stop only five or six others got off the train with us. Now many people get off at our stop at various times of day. We are priced out of our neighborhood now, especially if we want two bedrooms. It is a great neighborhood, and many of the new/changed businesses kept and give the neighborhood character. It’s helped balance some of the bland gentrification of stock condos (which we’d admittedly live in if we could afford it because we really like the neighborhood and strive to be proper yuppies).
Our new neighborhood is just outside the border of these growing and changing neighborhoods. From what we can tell so far, there’s more rebuilding than new building in our new neighborhood, and the history and integrity of the area and residents seem to be respected. We’ll see what happens in the next few years – revitalization or gentrification.
For the past two weekends we’ve gone up to the new apartment to clean and paint, introducing Henry to his new room by babygating him in it with his favorite toys while we work. He didn’t love it. We made sure to take turns playing with him, reading with him, and taking him out for walks in his new neighborhood. He also pretty consistently takes two hour naps now, so that helped us all out. I’m looking forward to getting settled again so that Henry can have his weekends back. He did have a lot of fun running around the empty space and opening and closing and sitting in the kitchen cabinets. (Plural! Big enough to fit a sitting toddler!)
Both sets of grandparents are coming in this weekend for the move, so even with all of the activity Henry shouldn’t feel neglected. At all. It may even lessen the blow of having his kitchen cabinets filled.
His bed will be the same. The furniture will be the same. We’re even painting the two bedrooms the color our one bedroom is now. I’d say our main motivation for this was to provide some continuity, but it’s mostly because we had an extra can of it left over from when we painted right before Henry moved in.
The biggest change for Henry will be not sleeping in the same room as us. When he wakes up now, as I’ve mentioned, he can stand up and see us. Will an empty room freak him out? Will I freak out thinking an empty room is freaking him out? Will an empty room freak me out? I’m looking forward to finding out.
… then buy cookies for your neighbors.
We live in a one-bedroom apartment, on the second floor of a three-floor brownstone, mostly so that we can have two sets of neighbors to wake up with loud crying at 3 a.m. (or annoy by dumping wood puzzle pieces onto the wood floor at 6:30 a.m. or by making them listen to the opening number of the 2013 Tony Awards over and over and over even though it’s awesome and the singer is going to be our new neighbor and have us over for play dates all the time).
Our one-bedroom status has not lent itself well to letting Henry cry it out when he wakes up at night, because, well, he can see us. We’re right there. And he just keeps crying. Luckily, he very rarely wakes up for no reason. It’s either a wet diaper, teething, coughing, or gas, and even a mediocre nurturer like myself isn’t going to not provide comfort to a baby in discomfort.
Well, on Tuesday/Wednesday at 3 a.m. Henry decided he wanted to come in bed with us and read The Very Busy Spider. Sometimes bringing Henry into bed for a quick snuggle puts him right back to sleep (and then right back into his bed if we don’t also fall asleep in the process), but not on Tuesday/Wednesday. He fought the back pats, the cuddles, the rocking chair, because he was up, duh, and had stuff he needed to do. Even explaining to him that his disproportionate-to-the-disappointment tantrum he was throwing was because he was tired and not actually upset didn’t work.
So we just put him in his bed and let him wail. We laid him down a few times to remind him that laying down was an option. Then continued to let him cry. And continued. Then continued and continued. Around 4:15 I heard a thunk and a whimper, then the most beautiful snores ever snored. I had to fight the urge not to dance on the bed like I was Angela Chase and I just got over Jordan Catalano.
Henry: 289. Parents: 1. We got 1!