Monday, January 24, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the URBAN Mom

Kate and Lydia, because they live in the suburbs, fight different domestic enemies depending on the season and the weather. Our girl Guru Louise, however, is the big city mouse, where the domestic enemies don't vary so much season-to-season...they do, however, make us feel a little better about leaves. Particularly that leaves aren't skittery animals with long creepy tails...


There are a lot of wonderful, amazing things about raising children in the city. My children get to ride the subway, visit arguably the best museums in the world, and when we walk down the street to our neighborhood market they hear people speaking in tongues. However, this suburban girl had a few things to get used to when her husband was transferred here a few years ago. I still don’t understand the rampant littering, the incredibly high cost of living (I once paid $7.89 for a dozen eggs), and don’t even get me started on how often I see public urination. But when I gave birth to my first baby a few months after our move, far greater enemies were revealed. The domestic enemies of the urban mom:

The Laundromat
This might be obvious, but apartment living means no in-house washer/dryer. If you’re super lucky your apartment building might have shared coin-operated machines in a terrifying, dank room that has lint balls the size of Chihuahuas on the floor. Most of us urban moms have to journey to the local laundromat with the family’s soiled belongings. Now all of you non-urban moms, please take a moment to consider how you would get all the dirty laundry currently in your house to the laundromat without a car. Then add an unruly toddler. And be pregnant. Yeah, that was me last winter. I had two tactics: either push the laundry and carry the toddler, or vice versa. I wish I had a photograph of me 35 weeks pregnant with 20 pounds of laundry strapped to my back and my screaming 2 year-old strapped in her stroller with snot and chocolate milk smeared all over her face. It really is one of my *favorite* motherhood memories. Once you finally make it to the laundromat you then have 2.5 hours to kill with your child in a confined space. My kids usually spent that time eating lint out of the dryer traps, using the laundry carts as bumper cars, or committing laundry larceny.

Oh yes, and let’s not forget when my daughter caught the stomach virus the last winter. She would puke and poo and puke again and there was no where to put the filthy, revolting laundry. Seriously, this mess may have rivaled Lydia at Five Guys. I did my best to rinse the chunks out in the bathroom but then I just started shoving the sheets, PJs, clothes, couch covers and every other soiled fabric into trash bags in the entryway of our apartment. What else could I do? Take an actively vomiting child to the laundromat? By the end of the second day my husband came home to find our daughter nibbling saltines and wearing an XXL Miller Lite T-shirt and a swimsuit bottom.

We all know city living equals crowded living, which means pests. I’m a reasonably clean person but there is no fighting the presence of pests in my city. I’m talking about the nasty ones, too, like roaches, mice, bed bugs, and even rats (my least favorite). You can be neat as a pin but if you have a disgusting next door neighbor then you. will. have. pests.

You can imagine how shocked I was one day to realize that we had turned into the dirty neighbors. My husband was up late one night when he saw a giant mouse waltz through our living room and dive at a piece of waffle that my toddler had thoughtfully shoved into the radiator. I used to envy how some moms had dogs that would eat up the food bits their kids dropped on the floor. But really, you don’t need a doggie vacuum in the city—your resident pests take care of it each night. Awesome.

The most horrifying story I know about city pests is from my friend Melissa in NYC. She was at Washington Square Park with her son and witnessed a particularly fearless rat jump into the basket of her friend’s Bugaboo stroller to enjoy a tasty pastry her friend had tucked away. True story. There was a murther-furking RAT IN HER KID’S STROLLER. Did you just gag and throw up in your mouth a little bit?

Playground Sprinklers
Every single one of my neighborhood’s five playgrounds has a water-play feature in the summer. While I agree that this “perk” is entirely necessary for keeping children from over-heating in the staggering summer temps, I hate these sprinklers with every fiber of my being. If your kid loves water play then you cannot keep him out of the sprinklers, which means that what used to be a simple, quick trip to get some fresh air turns into an ordeal of extra shoes, clothes, towels, etc. Also, FYI ladies: those swim diapers only catch poop so if you put one on your kid for the sprinklers and then put him in the bucket swing he will leave a puddle of urine for the next child. If your kid hates the sprinklers (like mine) then they get mega pissed off when the water-loving kids leave a warm puddle (of what?) in the bucket swings or inadvertently turn the slide into a water park attraction with their sopping Pampers. Throw in the ice cream truck on a 15 minute loop and really, it’s just a good time all around. Thank you, Parks Department.

This is another thing my suburban mom friends regularly take for granted. When we finally got a car during our second year here I was elated…until I realized I had to park the damn thing. I often return home from a morning of errands with two cranky kids and a trunk full of rapidly spoiling groceries only to discover that there is no parking in front of my building, or near my building, or anywhere on the whole freakin’ street.

What follows is a dizzying waltz where I double park in front of our building’s entrance, lock the kids in the car and rapidly dart back and forth from my trunk to the building, haphazardly dumping my groceries inside the building entryway while frantically screaming, “I’ll be right back!” at the kids. I’m fairly certain I look like a psychotic poodle on uppers. No matter where I am in this relay race I’m either worried about someone stealing my groceries or stealing my kids.

Despite all these enemies I’ve actually loves raising my kids here. However, like many families, we’ve decided to move our family back out to the ‘burbs soon, mostly to find better schools, etc. Soon I’ll be battling the domestic enemies of the suburban mom…but each time my picky kid showers the floor with her dinner I’ll think fondly of the city mouse family that took residence with us each year. They were such good eaters…

xoxo Guru Louise

Guru Louise has said goodbye to New York City...and hello to Boston. Boston Mommies, give a shout out to our girl, as you probably remember how hard it is to make mommy friends in a new city. In January.

xoxo Kate

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

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