And by “everyone” I mean parents. Not Syrian refugees. Calm down.
Most of the last year has seen me as a single father. My partner conducted and directed concerts across the country, and that meant many weekends away.
I’ve been stuck, un-showered, with a double-stroller and the sinking feeling that everyone else is having more fun than I am.
So I occasionally set myself up for bitter annoyance by trying to create a solo (with kids) “ideal Saturday morning.”
Let’s go to Tribeca and play amidst the elite.
I pushed the boys to a popular playground on the Hudson River. I cajoled Ellison into the stroller for the twenty minute trip (instead of walking and rendering it a 40 minute trip) so I’m able to speed along the river park…scrolling my Facebook feed.
From there, my perfect family morning goes downhill.
At the playground populated by Italian royalty, I frantically scramble after my two kids toddling in opposite directions. What parasite took over my judgment gene and made me think they’d play together in this sprawl with a climbing wall, sand pit, splash pad and jungle gym?
Why did I come here? It’s all stress. No one can help me parent or admire the cute way they push, shove, throw sand and scream “go away” to other kids.
More enjoyably, there’s no one to join me in judging the pretentious parents hovering over their children, checking Facebook (like I wish I were doing.)
By now, I realize my ideal morning was never reality.
Next, I’ll torture myself by walking through the brunch epicenter of New York City.
There, everyone looks like they’re having more fun than me. As we depart the playground, I grumble about what I’ll see in three blocks:
Glamorous parents who obviously enjoyed three rounds of love-making, last night, and emerge from bedrooms at 8:30. Their 4-year-old daughter, Pinotage, crafts a puzzle out of reclaimed Bergdorf boxes.
Their 2-year-old son, Muscato, asks, “Father? Were it that you were willing to engage in six brief minutes of Thomas and Friends antics with me, I would be obliged.”
While I will sweat profusely in 97-degree heat, they don $300 sunglasses and drape Hermes scarves around their necks in the way that only Tribecans can do without looking like tourists (i.e. Europeans).
Nary an iPad in sight, the children savor kale omelettes and share (SHARE!) locally-sourced cinnamon buns. These Kennedys and Brangelinas discuss their impending vacations to St. Moritz.
Everyone is happier than me. And richer. And more beautiful. And never wanting in their loins.
The icing on my bitter cake is: I’m certain everyone populating these outdoor cafes lives upstairs in billion-dollar lofts.
“Where did I go wrong?” I grumble as I approach Bubby’s at Hudson and Moore. “I just want to enjoy three-hour brunches, again: poached eggs, bloody marys, Ray-Bans, plaid collared shirts jauntily un-tucked, pretending to be rich.”
I’m sweating. Ellison is screaming because he didn’t want to leave the playground (but really he’s over-tired and hungry) and Colton is screaming because, well, Colton screams.
Suddenly, I’m in front of two neighboring cafes, and reality sets in. I see that children are only quiet because they’re engrossed in their parents’ phones. The parents aren’t talking. They’re bitter that they aren’t the ones engrossed in their phones. They aren’t happier than me. They’re pissed their nannies have the day off. They’re pissed they bothered having brunch with their kids.
Fine. But I’m still alone and I’m still not sitting in a café. So I compare myself to the 20-somethings whose hangovers made them awaken late and are stupid enough to 45 minutes for over-priced eggs and watered-down bloodies. They really did have a wild night of dancing and drinking and sex.
I WANT TO WAIT 45 MINUTES FOR BRUNCH WITHOUT FEARING A TODDLER MELT-DOWN!
There’s always something to complain about.
And there’s always someone having more fun than me.
Back home kids. It’s nap time.
And when you get to be MY age, and the boys are out of the house in college, or beyond, you will wistfully long for these “unfun” moments … cherish them my friend – sans brunch and Bloody Marys to boot!
Great post. This is how I felt about living in NYC working 80 hour weeks. Towards the end of my time there, in full burn out mode, I told a partner when asked if I had kids that I didn’t have time to make them, let alone raise them. Satisfyingly awkward silence ensued.