August 16, 2013
We’ve never really been babysitter people. We’d rather change our plans or, barring that, change our lives so that Charlotte can join us. Increasingly, though, Charlotte has plans and activities of her own, plans that take her away from us for longer chunks of time. Sometimes that leaves us back on our own, just the two of us.
Sunday, Charlotte went over to Penny’s to play, leaving us with an afternoon and no plans. We reacquainted ourselves with a routine familiar from our pre-Charlotte days in NYC: pick a neighborhood and walk all over it.
We tried, we really tried to come up with an afternoon that would interest us but that Charlotte would find totally boring. This meant:
- Bagels and cured fishes at Russ & Daughters (Charlotte would have been very interested in this)
- A guided tour in the Lower East Side Tenement Museum (this probably would have bored her, although she might have wondered why 19th century German immigrants had more space than we do)
- Iced coffee (inevitably, she would have gotten a treat here because we are so weak when it comes to afternoon treats)
- A long walk through the Lower East Side and across the Brooklyn Bridge (she would have loved the bridge, and the inevitable 3-mile ride on my shoulders)
Hmm. Even when left to our own devices, Maggie and I can’t fill an afternoon with activities that only we would enjoy.
Charlotte was present all day except for, you know, her actual body. We wondered how she would have liked the tenement, felt guilty about how incredible our bagels were, and knew she would have loved looking between the boards on the Bridge to see a barge pass 150 feet below.
The day after Charlotte was born, after the midwives and parents had left, Maggie slung 23-hour-old Charlotte across her body and we walked downstairs to Chavela’s for an early brunch.
We sat outside next to another couple who noticed that Charlotte was very, very new. They congratulated us and we joked that she was born yesterday. I’m pretty sure they didn’t believe it. Charlotte slept while we ate. This was our first outing together; Chavela’s doesn’t have a kids’ menu.
I expected that by becoming 29 again, if only for a few hours, we could easily pick up our habits from four years ago. Indeed, that we would welcome them back. But it’s way more complicated than that. The three of us have pushed off into a new direction together, each of us with equal influence on this new life.
I still feel the tug of that old life every once in a while. I can also feel Charlotte testing her moorings in the opposite direction. Sunday, I felt both 29 and 49, all at once.