Certain events with the kids cause me serious angst: subway trips, birthday parties and plane trips.

Subway trips mean we’ll be out for a long time. Beyond temper tantrums, this is what stresses me out:

What if it’s a 105 degree summer day on the subway platform with 98% humidity and I get swamp-ass and people laugh at my wet khakis?

What if the subway stops and we’re stuck inside for three hours without enough battery life on my phone to keep the kids quiet or enough goldfish snacks to keep ME happy?

And then what if desperation drives me to pee between subway cars? Late on a Saturday night is one thing. But middle of day with other riders, my children and, well…sober? Would I get arrested in this extreme situation? Do the police want to deal with my screaming kids’ wrath?

But, wait…if I were arrested for peeing, would the police provide free babysitting? Maybe that would be worth it?

And at subway stops without elevators, hauling the double stroller on subway stairs is hell. I get pissed if no one offers to help with my 90-pound albatross. But if anyone does help, I’m quickly reminded I can just carry it faster, myself.

Most of all: what if the boys fall asleep in the stroller and then they won’t have naps at home and that means I won’t get silent nap time and that means I have to wait another day to catch up on my hour’s worth of laundry/devouring-a-jar-of-peanut-butter/picking-up-toys/Empire-Boardwalking multi-tasking hour? (And by all those slashes, I mean wasting an hour on Facebook.)

And yet, subway trips (if exhausting) are never that big a deal. If they nap in the stroller, so what? I know: not every day can be on my schedule. The most frequent occurrence has been humid summer trips. Yes, I’m always soaked. But I plan strategically: I wear dark shorts to hide swamp ass.

Birthday parties?

What if it’s hot and I get swamp ass?

What if we run out of the only thing that makes toddler birthdays tolerable: booze?

Will I go broke buying chips, carrot sticks and a cake?

Do guests notice that I blanched the broccoli to be perfectly green and al dente? Moreover, if I didn’t do it, would they judge me for laziness?

Does my son enjoy a single moment of his birthday party? Or is he just gonna shout “No!!!” as other kids grab his Thomas trains?

But the few parties we’ve had were great…or, well…tolerable. They’re not that big a deal. Everyone eats (and drinks), there’s always hitting and shoving (sometimes between the kids, too) and I’m never able to have a full-sentence conversation. But it’s fun to see friends and mark time’s passage with group pictures (in cajoled poses of crying, sugar-overloaded kids).

And plane trips? See the above. Along with fears of swamp ass, add the angst of being “that guy” with crying kids in a plane.

Yes, everything I’ve listed is about judgment from others. Damn my sweet Midwestern mother who bent over backwards to avoid inconveniencing anyone else. This isn’t a good inherited trait. Few New Yorkers care about inconveniencing others.

So I should just choose to make subway outings, parties and plane trips fun. Choose not to get anxious. Let the kids cry. Reasonable people aren’t disturbed by it.

And choose to say: nothing’s that big a deal.

And have a drink.

Do you have any “illogical” angst? Give me even more to practice not-getting-worked-up-about…


  1. AH … the joys of child rearing – and there really ARE advantages to keepin’ things simple and raising a family in a small town rural setting vs. “the Big City”! And swamp ass is swamp ass – for everybody … no matter where you find yourself or in what situation.


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