The other day I did a radio interview over the phone. It was kind of random... a mom of one of Nate's old students thought it would be an interesting topic to talk to me about moving from a spacious house to a tiny apartment in the city with 2 young boys. Well, I felt really bad, because I didn't feel like I did a very good job of explaining the changes that we have made and the challenges that come with those changes. Part of the reason was that the questions focused more on the "things" that we left behind or have been doing without, and which "things" I miss the most and couldn't do without, etc. To be honest, it's not so much about the lack of "stuff" that makes our move harder... living in a small space IN the city is the challenge. I don't think it would be too much different to live in a small apartment in Provo vs living in our house in Provo, but in the CITY... things are VERY different. So while I really do miss Asher's changing table and matching crib, my queen sized bed with memory foam topper, super comfy couches, all my Christmas decorations and dishes, my nice serving ware, our Oster steamer (THE best!), our dishwasher and garbage disposal, a washer and dryer just steps away, a vacuum cleaner, two-sided sink, the fridge IN the kitchen, etc etc... only a few of those things really contribute to the completely different lifestyle that we are living here.
So here are some of my thoughts on the differences in living in the city vs living in the suburbs...
1. I am WAY more tired. This is probably the biggest thing I have noticed. All of the following things will help you see why.
2. I am literally doing dishes all day long. Nate made fun of me for saying that the other day because he thought I was being dramatic, but it really is the truth (although Nate is trying to start helping more with that). Due to the unfortunate size of my kitchen, I HAVE to stay on top of the dishes, or else there is no way that I will be able to accomplish anything in there. And we don't have a dishwasher or garbage disposal, so it's all hand washing for me baby, and not to sound prissy (because I am NOT), but having to pick up soggy food from the dishes in the sink and take it to the garbage is really not pleasant. Blah!
3. Going to the Grocery store is very physically and mentally draining. Maybe after I have been doing this for a year or so, it won't be such a big deal, but having to go to the grocery store 3 or 4 times a week with children in tow, and then having to carry and/or push added pounds back home is really not fun. I have to make sure I have snacks and water for Asher to avoid screaming and crying, as well as hurry through the store so as not to push my luck with him. And Nate wonders why I don't love grocery shopping as much as he does?! Oh, and not to mention that it is a pretty steep uphill ALL the way home. Especially right when you turn onto my street, that's where it's the steepest. Awesome! All I have to say is that I better have some HOT calves after living here for 3 years.... HOT!!
4. I feel like I am having to entertain Asher more, being in such a small space. Part of that is that there is really no where else for me to go other than the family room, so if Asher is playing in there, I just naturally spend more time with him. He still does really well, but I think when he sees me he'll sometimes get out of his playing groove and all of the sudden realize that he is hungry or wants to read books with me or whatever. Plus there is really just no way for me to get anything done while he is awake... when I'm on the computer, he wants to type, or look at pictures, or watch Thomas snippets... or if I'm eating, he has to eat my food, and when I am cooking or baking or doing the dishes he has to help, or at the very least, see what I am doing. And don't even think about getting craft stuff out. So I wait until he is asleep to do most things, which makes it very hard to get everything done that I need to, because lets face it, when the kids go down, all I want to do is relax. And then of course, it's a small space, so he feels couped up a lot more, and just needs to get out. Hope that all made sense. This is very educational for me to write all this down, by the way. It's helpful to think about why I am so tired and what really is so different about living here.
5. We walk everywhere. Except when we take the subway or the bus. The subway is pretty easy... when I am with Nate. First let me explain to you my trip to target by myself last night...
**After I wrestled Asher into his coat, shoes an threw him in the stroller (Maclaren), and got all the snacks, water, diapers, etc gathered into the diaper bag. Put my shoes and coat on. Strapped Sayer in the bjorn. We walked to the subway station. There is an escalator on 125th, so that wasn't a problem. Once you get in the subway station, there is another set of stairs to get on to the platform. A random stranger helped me carry the stroller up... so nice! Get on the subway. Get off the subway 100 blocks later. Get Asher out of the stroller, fold it up and carry it. Pick up Asher and carry him and the stroller down, while Sayer is strapped in the bjorn. At the bottom of the stairs, put Asher back in the stroller, walk a couple blocks to Target. Done with Target. Walk back to the Subway station. Take Asher out of the stroller, take off all of the bags now hung on the stroller, fold it up. Carry stroller, bags, Asher and Sayer up the 3 flights of stairs to the platform. Thank you random strangers for your help and for not getting annoyed with me. Asher doesn't want to get back in the stroller, so I let him play around on the train... it's pretty empty. My shoulders are starting to lose feeling from the bjorn, and I start to feel a little light headed. No biggie! Put Asher back in the stroller, we get off the train. Kind stranger helps me carry Asher in stroller down first set of steps. Of course, the escalator going down is not working, so I take Asher out of the stroller again, and proceed to fold up stroller and all my junk. Nice man helped me with my stroller. Thanks buddy! Put Asher back into the stroller and walk home... uphill. By the time I got home I had a full on headache from wearing the bjorn for so long, and was exhausted from the physical labor, as well as the anxiety of stressing over getting the stroller and Asher up and down the stairs without being a huge inconvenience to people. Seriously.
Now let me tell you what we do every Sunday to get to church...
**Follow similar pattern to the target story... Asher in maclaren, Sayer in bjorn, books, toys, snacks, blah blah blah. Walk to the bus stop on 123rd. Wait until the last possible second, then get Asher out of the stroller, take everything out of the basket and off the handles so that I can fold it up. Get out my metro card while juggling all of the stuff that was once on or in the stroller while also herding Asher onto the bus. Swipe my card and go sit down. Asher loves the bus, so luckily he is very well behaved and happy. Get off the bus. Grab Asher before he goes running into the street, put him back in the stroller, along with all the other crap that we had to remove in order to fold up the stroller. Why they make you take your child out of the stroller and fold it up is beyond me. Ok, so that's a lie. If you have ever been on a bus in NYC, you know exactly why they make you do that. People are packed like sardines into those busses. There is literally no room for people, let a lone strollers. But just because I understand, doesn't make it any less annoying. It is the biggest pain in the rear. So where was I... oh yes, we put Asher back in the stroller and walk a few blocks to the church. On the way home we do the same thing, except the busses are a lot more full, so it causes a little more anxiety. I know it doesn't sound like that big of a hassle, but it is. It is physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. I cannot wait until January 4th when we will be moving back into the Lincoln Center building. We will just be able to roll our stroller on to the train, roll it off, and take the elevator to street level, and that's all. It's simple, it's straight forward, and it doesn't require any thinking or packing bags in a certain way like I do when we take the bus.
6. Sayer now sleeps in our room, and we are being woken up by little coughs, sniffles, and lone cries much more frequently. I am not a fan.
7. The kids have been sick a lot more, due to playing in the community toy room in the basement, due to the cold weather. Sick kids = less sleep.
8. Getting together for play dates is a little more stressful, as we are in smaller spaces, which makes for more toy stealing and hitting. Asher has actually been doing really well with sharing and not hitting as much, but it still gives me some anxiety when we all get our kids together to play. Some parents take it pretty hard when their child is the victim of hitting, pushing, or toy stealing, so I have to pay a lot more attention to Asher and intervene quickly at times when I normally wouldn't. Not saying that I would normally let Asher hit kids, but I think it's important for kids to learn to stand up for themselves and understand that mommy is not always going to come to the rescue.
Ok, this has turned into a long post. I'm not surprised really, what can I say? I love to talk.
This is a pretty good list for now, although I'm sure there will be more things to tell about in the future. Oh, and this morning, I had to get a candy thermometer because I couldn't find mine, it took me 2 hours. I guess that's what I get for going to midtown during rush hour... which is 9:00 am. Awesome, huh?!
***I just had to add an addendum, because I was reading over my post and realized that I made myself sound, well, amazing, and I am not. I know that lots of moms are doing the exact same thing here, and probably not complaining about it. But the truth is, I love it here. I know I am lucky to be able to live in the awesome city, so I will definitely take the bad that comes with the loads of awesome-ness. Just wanted to add that!