Most afternoons these days, I race through the delightful Chelsea Market, grabbing a sandwich or a cup of overpriced Hale & Hearty to slurp down at my desk in the four minutes I’ve got before I’m snatched away to the next EMERGENCY OH MY GOD IT’S AN EMERGENCY at work.
In that time, meandering the long corridor of the historic building and peeking my head into the various storefronts to learn daily specials and tempt myself with evil thigh-enhancing confections (I’m looking at you, Fat Witch Brownies), I pass tables of parents.
So many parents.
It’s not tourists so much now that the holidays have passed, but the chic West Village mommies getting a little fresh air and human contact with their newborns nestled into Bugaboos and Stokkes. It’s a trio fresh from a mommy and me class, trading stories over Chicken Caesars while their toddlers race around in front of them, high on Rice Krispie bars. It’s scruffy-faced stay at home dads, dangling eco totes filled with fig jams and artisanal breads from their elbows and a baby strapped to their chests. Or sometimes it’s that brand new mom, bleary-eyed and unfocused, pushing a pram back and forth from her chair with one hand while clutching a 16-ounce latte for dear life in the other.
And I’m jealous.
Every time I stare at one of these mothers, in her perfect clothes with her perfect hair, settling in along the brick walls with a child dancing on her knees I think, what I would give not to be racing back to the office right now. What I would give to be here instead with my girls, sharing a croissant or teaching them about the 30 kinds of cheeses at Lucy’s Whey.
And surely, one of the moms looks at me and thinks: What I would give for a whole 10 minutes to walk through these halls by myself. To peek into the shops without navigating a stroller through the crowd. To avert my eyes for three seconds without the fear that my toddler will throw herself head-first into the waterfall.
And I think: The sound of giggling, shrieking children is so much more appealing right now than the sound of desk chair wheels rumbling through the halls and the industrial Fiery printer belching out PowerPoint decks.
And she thinks: The crying. OH the crying I’m going to have to listen to later after having kept the baby out a whole hour past her naptime.
And I think: Ah, to be a stay at home mom with a hedge fund husband so I can plan my day around hot chocolate outings.
And she thinks: Ah, to be a mom with a job that requires me to wear fancy shoes and use four syllable words and get through an entire day without hearing Elmo’s voice or someone throwing up on me.
And I think: I’m missing moments with my kids right now. I’m missing memories.
And she thinks: I’m missing myself.
And the funny thing is?
When the tables are turned and I’m the one sitting and eating and child-wrangling and mommying, the conversation in my head goes the exact same way.
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