Yesterday I strapped my baby girl in the Ergo to get my fix. Not quite smack, but pretty damn close. The very last day of the delectable Smores cupcake at Sprinkles.
Everything was going right. I had money on my Metrocard and we caught the uptown 6 train in less than a minute (a nearly impossible feat on a Sunday afternoon). When we arrived, more good fortune. The Smores were fresh and there was a very short line. My mouth was watering and Chloe was entertained by the constant movement of the city.
We headed back underground to the downtown 6, which was just arriving. I couldn’t believe our luck! No delays at Grand Central – round trip this little excursion would take less than 30 mi…..
My thoughts came to a screeching halt. And it wasn’t just in my head. It was the train as well. The ear piercing sound of metal on metal could mean only one thing. Someone pulled the emergency brake.
Despite my decades of living in the city and using the subway almost every day, I had never experienced this in real life. I recognized it only from the movies — Speed, Die Hard (with a Vengeance), Hackers, Pelham 1-2-3. You can see where my mind was going with this in an instant. Not good.
So here’s where I want to tell you something you won’t read in any baby book. Things even your awesome best friend – the one who told you about the weeks of bleeding, the night sweats, the baby blues, the leaking (breast and bladder) – forgot to mention: your life is forever changed once you have children. In ways your best friend can’t even begin to describe.
Let’s go back to my subway incident as a prime example.
Before kids: Probably some bored teenagers getting their kicks on a slow Sunday. At my expense. Damn kids.
Post-kids: Don’t panic. Don’t panic. You need to think clearly. Assess whether we are faced with a potential train collision, bomb, or hostage situation. Then come up with a perfect plan of action to escape in the nick of time.
Before kids: Hey, great timing! Sprinkles in hand! Maybe now I’ll have an
opportunity excuse perfectly valid reason to eat all four cupcakes without having to share with anyone. After all, we could be stuck here for hours.
Post-kids: What the f#ck was I doing? I put myself and my 14 month old baby in grave danger (is there any other kind?) for the insanely selfish reason of enjoying overpriced cupcakes??!?!?!?!?? Stupid, stupid, stupid!!
Before kids: it’s too bad I don’t have any milk to enjoy with these rich cupcakes.
Post-kids: I’m too far into the weaning process to produce enough milk for Chloe to survive. Damn it! Why don’t I have more milk?!?
Before kids: If this train blows up it will be really sad because I never got to have children.
Post-kids: If this train blows up it will be really sad because I have children.
People openly lament the lost exotic vacations, copious amounts of free time and, of course, the dream of a good nights sleep. But not enough people remind you of the loss of simplicity that is replaced by hyper-awareness. Suddenly you are given parent goggles.
With these special glasses you cannot see the world as it once was. Instead you must see the potential harms in everything: from subway terrorists, to the media, to the strawberries at the local market. Because maintaining the innocence, the purity, the security of other human beings (two in my case) — that’s your responsibility now.