I was walking home with the twins the other day, pushing my double-stroller through piles of colorful leaves as the autumn-in-NYC chill bit through my thin leather jacket, when my mom called. She told me that she and my dad had safely arrived in Florida. “We’re sitting outside having drinks! It’s 80 degrees!”
I braced myself against a stiff breeze, bumped the stroller up the steps to our apartment building and bent over to search in the diaper bag for my house keys. “That’s great,” I replied. In truth, I was upset. Faced with the prospect of another long winter without any relatives nearby all I could think was: Why aren’t you here? Why can’t I have my mommy?
It seems like I have moments like this all the time these days, moments when I want someone to help me with the twins, help me navigate all the choices I have to make on behalf of them. Sometimes you just want a parent to cook you chicken parmesan, stroke your head and tell you everything is going to be OK. I enjoy being that person for my son and daughter. But lately I’ve been wondering: when do I get to cry and wipe my face into someone’s pant leg?
Of course my mom deserves to be in the sunshine state, sipping gin and tonics, and walking her dog without having to don a parka and snow boots. She put in her time raising two kids. Besides, city life is just not her style. But with twins and some scary problems of our own to face, it suddenly feels like we’re very much on our own.
Now that my mom is thousands of miles away, I regret using seafood to mock a party she wanted to give in my honor.
As a teenager, my MO was to distance myself from my parents as much as possible. I prided myself on being “alternative” and perfected the art of staring wistfuly out my bedroom window, sneaking puffs of Marlboro Lights while wearing an evening gown and listening to The Sisters of Mercy. My most prized possession was a black, leather motorcycle jacket, purchased by my parents after much pleading on Canal Street. (I hugged it the entire way home to Long Island.) Having a Sweet 16 sounded lame; when I finally agreed to have one, my mom and I went shopping for the party invitations. “These are the ones I want,” I said, holding up a pre-printed invite that welcomed guests to a fish fry. I laughed to the point of tears at the thought of sending this to my guests. My mother was not amused.
I was a pain in the ass, trying to be a badass.
Now that my mom is thousands of miles away, I regret using seafood to mock a party she wanted to give in my honor. I want to be around her and my dad more often. Even more importantly, I want them to be a fixture in my kids’ lives. Sometimes, I envy the orthodox Jews who all live together in one insulated community. OK, not really, but it would be nice to have a set Sunday dinner or be able to go get a manicure without having to pay a babysitter.
For now, I’ll just try to make the most of the time we do get to spend together. Like last month, when they took the twins for two nights – no small feat indeed – or when we all gathered around the table for Rosh Hashanna dinner. Until we can make it down to see them, or when they come back here, we’ll have to settle for a disembodied voice over a speaker phone. We say, "Hello," give each other updates on the weather and the kids. Then, before I can say much more, it’s time for me to go. There are two little people who are wanting their dinner, and it’s my turn to be the lady who cooks chicken parm.