It was a year ago this weekend that Brandon and I visited New York City for the first time. It may come as a surprise that neither of us had been here before, and here we found ourselves not only here, but we were actually exploring whether we could LIVE here. Only a few people knew the reason for our trip, so under the cover of “celebrating our anniversary” a little bit early, we came.
These two pictures were taken before our first visit (on the airplane) and after we’d been here a few months later.
And what began as an exploratory vacation, turned into a full day of meetings for Brandon and dinner with Brandon’s potential boss that night. We fell in love that weekend and began to walk forward knowing that God was moving us to NYC. And it was totally out of our wildest dreams. We’d dreamed of cities, sure. But never this one. And we knew that God had placed a longing in our hearts for the next thing, but this job carried so much weight and importance and we were a little bit bewildered that Brandon might have the opportunity to use his gifts and abilities this way.
And now here we are one year later. We are in our sixth month. We’ve had dinner with those friends a few times since. We’ve made new ones. Our son has started school. Our daughter has started ballet and become an NYC parks / playground expert. Brandon has flourished in his new job, and I’m (once again) figuring out this whole full-time-stay-at-home-mom thing.
People have asked us what it’s like for J and E in our new home. Yesterday on our way home from picking J up from school, E brought them each a matchbox car. And they rolled those cars on every building and fence that we passed. A three block walk to the subway which normally takes 10 minutes took us 25. Because they were moving at their own pace. And as they passed each person they received sweet smiles and more than a few chuckles. A few people played along with their game. They made it onto the subway where people went out of their way to make sure they could sit together with me. And they continued to talk and laugh.
Earlier that day Eliza played in a sandbox with a friend (while I had some much needed adult conversation that friend’s mom) and she negotiated sand toys with a few other kids in the box, too. (There are sandboxes everywhere in NYC and everybody comes with the expectation that toys will be shared). Parents sat on the side and taught our little people how to ask politely and share what they had with those around them. We laughed as they snatched toys away. Kids are kids everywhere. But in a large city they have to learn to be citizens from a young age.
Raising little kids in the city has it’s challenges. But every time a person offers to carry my stroller or heavy load up the stairs (9/10 a person of color…but that’s a conversation for another day), and every time the vendors on the street smile and talk to and laugh at Eliza…I am so thankful for where we live. I’m thankful for the way I am forced to teach my children that quiet voices and quiet feet are not only a good idea in general, but they help us show kindness to our neighbors. That our plans have to be flexible as we move from point A to point B. And that you can do more than you think (like stand for 25 minutes on the subway when there are no seats to be had). I love that my children have already learned how to balance their bodies when the subway comes to a stop (without holding on) and that they naturally reach for my hand when getting on or off.
I love the sympathetic smiles and even pats I get when my sweet littlest person is throwing a fit. And I love the proud nods J gets when he pushes his way through a crowd to get off the train (saying a very loud but very polite “Excuse me” the whole way).
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t love being corrected on my parenting in public (yeah, that’s happened a few times). I don’t always love the lack of privacy when my kids desperately need a private “let’s get it together” conversation. And somedays are downright exhausting as I teach my sensory sensitive daughter to navigate a city that overwhelms those senses on the regular.
But this city has a way of sneaking into your heart. And the charm of our city and our neighborhood specifically does my heart good.
Today is a quiet day with Eliza. Jamie has sports after school, so we wont pick him up till late. So we’ve watched a movie and now she’s quietly playing trains. I’m going to make us both some lunch soon and then play with my baby in her room for a little before rest time.
And then I’m going to read and be lazy because allergies are kicking my tail and after a the food poisoning I had earlier in the week, I’m exhausted and definitely need a little bit of a rest.
Tomorrow we will go explore a new spot with J and E and we will do most of our parenting in front of 1000 of our closest friends. 😉 And it will be frustrating at times but we’re also learning to laugh at ourselves and take it for what it is.
And we will come home exhausted and put our kids to bed early (most likely) and watch a movie and eat something terrible for us. And it will be lovely.
Amy, you’re such an amazing writer! I feel like I’ve been in your world for a few minutes! Blessings on you and your family in the Big Apple. Love you.
I smiled as I read this because I hear ya, girl. I hadn’t thought of Istanbul life and NYC life being so similar other than public transportation, but I guess community parenting is a common city thing! It can be super-annoying and yet gets under your skin into your heaŕt and sticks there. 10 years of megacity life and I would not change it. Enjoy!