i surprised the girls with a trip to new york last weekend. i had been planning and saving for 4 months. i almost gave it up a few times – it was one of the hardest secrets i’ve ever had to keep. but when i told them in the morning that we were leaving that afternoon and got asked ‘how much longer’ and ‘when are we going’ about a thousand times, i realized my gut instinct on the whole secret thing was one of the smartest moves i’ve ever made.
new york is amazing. the neighbourhoods, the architecture, the whole vibe. i’ve always felt such an affection for that city. i find the people to be so intriguing and unbelievably friendly. there were elevator stories and hilarious street vendors. there were many people wishing us a wonderful day.
an older woman, dressed to the nines, stopped us right in the middle of crossing a street to ask us where we three “lovely ladies” were headed. there was the guy that inquired about where i get my tattoos and did i know what shop ‘NY ink’ was shot in. he asked the right person. there was the gentleman and his elderly mom who called us over to their car. they needed directions. turns out, between lola being able to use the GPS (it was the same as my mom’s and she used to play on it) and me somewhat knowing the streets and their numbers, we sent them where they needed to go. as we continued on our way, we saw them at the next block, turning the corner. they honked and waved at us, like we were old friends.
we hiked the highline and then some (6 hours of walking in 40 degrees!). we biked all of central park. we ate ice cream twice a day. every day.
but for me, there was one event that was not only the highlight of my trip, but reminded me why parenting can be so unbelievably special.
my dear friend sylvia hooked me up with her dear friends in new york who get discounted tickets for broadway. they very generously helped us to see ‘finding neverland’.
i had no idea what to expect. i knew the play would be amazing but i didn’t know how the girls would react. it was late on a saturday night and as we all know, plays are generally quite long and i didn’t even know if they would understand everything. i expected there to be a lot of adult undertones and was worried it would go over their heads.
well, i completely underestimated not only my children, but the power of performance.
taking them to their first movie was certainly special. i remember their reaction to the size of the screen and the amount of steps we had to walk to get to our seats. i definitely had a feeling of accomplishment and pride that they sat through the whole thing. it felt like a milestone. when we walked out, i remember thinking that was it. that ‘first’ was over and i’d never get it back. but that’s the thing about parenting. there are a million firsts. some you are prepared for, but it’s the ones that take you by surprise that will forever be the best and most memorable.
so this. this experience was beyond anything i could have ever imagined.
watching them watch that play was mesmerizing. i didn’t know where to look. my head swung between the stage, izzie on my left, lola on my right. they weren’t bored, they didn’t ask me once when it would be over and they watched every moment with pure interest and wide-eyed, mouth-gaping astonishment. they couldn’t take their eyes off the performance and i couldn’t take my eyes off them.
the glow of the stage reflected back off their faces and i stopped and really took them in. they looked halfway between being my little babies and the other half, big grown-up girls. it was pure magic. up until this point in my life, i can honestly say that i don’t know if i’ve ever witnessed anything like it.
near the end of the play, izzie asked if the mom was pretending to be sick. (it was the first thing she’d said the entire time)
i asked, ‘what do you mean?’ she said ‘is she really sick, like in her life?’ i told her that she wasn’t. then she exclaimed (loudly), ‘wow. she is a REALLY good actor.’ our surrounding seatmates all smiled and chuckled to themselves but izzie didn’t notice. she already had eyes back on the show.
i cried through most of the play but really amped up my sobs for the last 15 minutes. lola heard me sniffling and whispered, “i don’t like it when you cry.” i assured her that it was only because i was happy. she leaned over and wrapped her fingers around mine. izzie noticed and grabbed my other hand. and there we sat. a blubbering mama and her two outside hearts.
i will never forget it.
a little bit of magic, the glow of my children’s faces and a perfectly timed hand-hold… it will always and forever be the small things that save us.