Never bite off more than you can chew, they say. ‘They’ are generally unnervingly conservative, however, so I tend to toss out those words of wisdom with the bathwater. Forget about the baby. Instead, I embrace the idiom ‘seize the day’. Spoiler alert: seizing the day is exhausting.
Being a tourist is hard work, and I made one key rookie mistake while visiting NYC. My plan to not sleep while visiting the city that never sleeps was more than a little daft. We arrived in Newark at 11 pm, and by midnight were seated comfortably in a bar in Soho. At 1 am we were seated for dinner. When 3 am rolled around, we rolled down the street to another bar. The story has it we arrived back at our hotel at 5 am, but I can’t verify that with any conviction.
The three-hour time change notwithstanding, this was a victory. This is the kind of stamina I haven’t seen since my university days. However, unlike those moments as a student when I would bounce back from those typical Tuesday nights, I spent the rest of our time in New York recovering from this initial binge; whereas that was supposedly only the beginning. Not the first time in my life my best laid plans have backfired like Lindsay Lohan’s attempts at rehab.
My nocturnal challenges aside, I feel like I grew because of this trip, and not just in waist size. Truthfully, big cities are not my thing; I am as uncool as I sound. Concrete jungles only make me long for the solitude of my North Shore mountains. However, eight million people live there for a reason, not just to check out the view from the Empire State Building. Amongst our fantastic dining experiences, we went to a rave and watched some incredible performance art that you didn’t need to be high on E to appreciate (just wine). We went to Cindy Sherman‘s exhibit at the Moma, a woman who has photographed herself in various forms of disarray over forty years and has the breadth of work to prove it – a brilliant satire of life as we know it, and more thought provoking than I can explain with mere words. We saw The Book of Mormon on Broadway – if I say uproariously funny will I sound like the pamphlet they handed me when I stepped into the theater? Truly hilarious, what else would you expect from the creators of South Park? The New York Public Library featured an exhibit on the letters and manuscripts of Percy Bysshe Shelley, whose real life played out like a soap opera well before its time. A little gallery of heaven right there.
These experiences, easily, were the highlights. The things I will hold close to my heart and take with me past New York and beyond. The rest was tourist play. Why I can run easily run ten miles, but have great trouble walking a couple of miles worth of city blocks is one of life’s great mysteries.
I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a vacation, but visiting New York was invigorating in a different way. You might say the Big Apple took a bite out of me, instead of the reverse. But I chewed as much as I could in my attempt to seize the day, and I was happy with the contents of my Granny Smith.
I have received countless homemade Mother’s Day gifts from my gang. A hand-painted coffee mug, several cards where triangular globs of tissue paper form my body, etched pencil drawings of my likeness, and one year, a handmade lilac scarf with a stick-figure of me drawn in fabric markers. So many Mother’s Days, so many treasures.
But how to tell them that their gift to me is themselves? The amazement I experience as life happens to them. Just yesterday, my seven year old learned that dolphins sleep with one eye open, and she now tells this fact to everyone she encounters, the pride in her knowledge unmistakeable. My ten year-old sporty girl throws herself body and soul into every game she plays, and doesn’t leave an ounce of regret on the field. My twelve year-old daughter laughingly tells me every detail of her first date – how much longer will that last? I am privileged to be a voyageur into their world, and my nose is pressed up against the glass tight.
Easily, the most precious gift they give me is the chance to be their mother. I am quick to point out the pitfalls of motherhood, but this doesn’t mean I don’t bask in its sunshine, and at times its rays are blinding.
True story: I encourage my youngest daughter to stay in her own bed, telling her I can’t sleep as well when she is wedged in between myself and my husband.
She thinks this is due to the cramped quarters, but actually it is not. I can’t sleep because I can’t help staring at her face, perfectly lost in dreamland. I can’t sleep because I can’t believe my luck and fortune that this little face beside me, this beautiful person is my daughter.
She is seven years old, but the wonder of her is new to me everyday.
Their gifts to me far exceed the cardboard box that is kept underneath my bed. Their gift to me is the very meaning and embodiment, the mother lode, of love itself.
Wishing all mothers, everywhere, a very happy Mother’s Day this Sunday.