Thursday, April 5, 2007

Family Affair

Zoe and Rob, our good friends, have had two children back to back (the crazy fools), just like Steve and I. Susanna and Ron, another couple we know, also did the same. Maria and Mario, have just one child, Sabrina, but still, when we get together, that makes 5 kids under 4. Of course, extreme chaos ensues. However, there is safety in numbers and having other parents around feels oddly comforting. Perhaps you yell at your children a little less. And if your kid has a temper tantrum or breaks something, everyone will automatically understand.

Last night, we all went to Rob and Zoe's Soho loft (a loft which, I should note, Zoe grew up in) for dinner. We ate in two stages: children first, then once, fed, we put the kids in front of Baby Einstein, and then the parents ate. Zoe made an amazing meal, especially since she had worked all day and she is still breastfeeding her youngest, one year old Maya. (Zoe is pro at simultaneously cooking and breastfeeding, which quite frankly, should be an Olympic sport.) Maria boiled the Barilla whole grain pasta, which is the best pasta in the entire world, topped with string beans, walnuts, potatoes and pesto. A huge salad came with it. Plus, of course, wine.

After the kids were fed and before the parents sat down to eat, the moms huddled around the wine, like it was a warm fire on a freezing cold day.

As I opened bottle number 2, Susanna said, "Jean, that's why I like you. Always willing to go that extra mile"

"Glad I could be of usefulness," I laughed, as we clinked our glasses.

Somehow we got into the conversation of your kids driving you crazy, and how isolating motherhood can be, particularly in New York City, where market capitalism and its subsequent competition seeps into our emotional lives as well. Parenting becomes a sport, something to win at. The truth is, childrearing can push you to the precarious edge of sanity and sometimes the only thing that can save you is talking with a group of other parents about the craziness of it all.

"I once grabbed Sydney's arm and dragged him into his room," I confessed, feeling relief wash over me to say it out loud.

"I bit Maya one day after she twisted my nipples," said Zoe. We all laughed.

"I fantasize about giving Rita up for adoption," claimed Susanna.

"It's hard," I said.

From here the talk veered towards therapy and "good-enough" mothering and books and techniques all designed to make us better. The funny thing is, we are better. We are loving mothers who read books and thoughtfully fret about our children and interview at countless preschools and desperately want the best for our kids. We sometimes make mistakes and if we can support each other, over a few glasses of wine and a bunch of pasta, then we might just make it through.

By 8:00, everyone was fed, dishes were getting washed, and Steve and I packed up the kids into the stroller and walked home. Damn, I love having a family.


  1. hi jean!! i love this, i missed you!!!! i'll be checking in often!!
    hugs and glitter,
    kathy :-)

  2. Love your blog. I'm inspired -- I gave myself a kick in the pants and asked some friends over for dinner tomorrow. I always talk myself out of asking someone, by saying that I'll wait until Thursay to ask them for the weekend, if my house is clean, or if the kids don't seem like they'll be grumpy, or if I'm not too tired... but I've realized that those things will almost always be true on Thursdays. I've just got to make myself ask someone on Monday. That way I'm tied down and have to circle my wagons in order to have time for preparing for having company. The kids will still be grumpy to a certain extent, and my house will not be spotless, and I will be exhausted, but at least when the weekend rolls around, I'll have a decent meal and some good wine with some parents who are as tired as I am.

    Thanks for the inspiration. Good luck!