At some point, I thought to write a post about “creating zoom spaces in your apartment.” And what seemed like a cute, thoughtful article seemed flat, two-dimensional, and utterly banal.
What had been lingering, having had an absolute blast doing an Instagram Live with Brianne Manz of Stroller in the City, was to zoom out and consider what it means to be a parent, especially today, in New York.
I could write about the mental gymnastics my wife and I went through to map out dropping off and picking up kids from school while also working, from home or from an office. Do we buy a car, hire a car-and-driver (!)? When with the normal school bus that brings our kids to school return? (More than a month into school, it finally has)). I could write about managing working from home and kids’ zoom schedules. These are a smattering of a parent’s concerns of living in the pandemic right now.
If you handled these categories of your world with stress before, you’re probably managing them with more stress. If you found ways to stay sane before, you’re finding ways to stay sane now.
Yet pointing out the concerns of today seems boring. It’s pointing out the obvious and we’ve heard it all. Why do you need to read about them here?
As things open up in New York, these distractions for anyone who parents in New York, may be lifting, slightly. That is, if the laundry list of real life ridiculousness has kept them from focusing on anything like upgrading, going from renting to owning, maybe there’s a chasm in the clouds, a return to some perspective.
Don’t you remember the insights people had early on during quarantine, the joy of those insights carried through the summer. Maybe the summer ended up even more fabulous than anyone ever thought it would be. What a delight! What a difference. Dinner with kids, time with kids, dancing with kids, music with kids. Has the routine changed forever for the better? Maybe some joy that kids are going to school again, leaving the house and leaving us some time for self-care.
Listen- It’s not about creating zoom spaces in your house or making room for your Peloton. It’s not about extra pantry space now that you’re cooking at home a lot more. It’s not about making events special – weddings, children’s events like Bar and Bat Mitzvahs or Thanksgiving dinner at home. And it’s just about cleaning up your house and another swing at the Spring Cleaning- which propelled me to create the Spring Clean Challenge.
What is it about? At its core, the swirl, the shifting currents of today have given you room to really think on this question, and to let your gut answer:
“Am I in or am I out?”
Are you meant to be a New Yorker, do you really, really love it here? Are you willing to allow for all of these challenges to wash over you and still can’t consider living in the suburbs? Are you clearer that ever that you LOVE New York AND also need a little place to get away to?
Are you clearer than ever that you are a superman or superwoman (or superthey?)? That despite everything that’s happened, that you stepped up big time as a parent, and learned how to love yourself in this time, and love your kids, and be there, be present for all the craziness that showed up in your house? That now, after seven months of pandemic, you have grown into a parent that you wouldn’t have recognized back in February?
That despite the offerings on Netflix, there is nothing better than a laugh generated from a silly conversation around the dining table. That a walk in the park, carved from the found time we have today, is more precious than any department store sale?
That New York is about much, much more than the scurrying around. It’s about parks, and streets, and taking it all in at a slower pace. That even with cultural institutions shuttered, that there is a life that cannot be contained, and a joy that emerges in the barks of new puppies, EVERYWHERE.
The doldrums of midtown life are gone, the buzzing of the neighborhoods returns. New ideas about how to live. Greenshoots of interest grow. We support each other in different ways. We remember to call our parents. We sometimes think all of this is a dream, and our kids simply adjust to the life that is in front of them.
Whether you decide that now is the time to move into a new apartment, decide to make changes in what you have while living in your current apartment. It is clear that you’re not the same person as you were in February. That you aren’t the same parent. That you couldn’t possibly go back to the way that you were living before. That your eyes are opened to a new world.
That regardless of how divided the political scene is today, that despite the sudden earthquake of revolutionary fervor around social justice, despite the denial or lack of awareness- we are, still, all in this together. We may choose to disagree on just about everything, but stepping back, isn’t it true?
We will survive today. The city we love, the country we love, will evolve. We will be confronted, challenged, and our muscles will grow. We have realized that we have a voice, if we didn’t know it already.
New York is the laboratory. There’s a reason why this pesky pandemic chose New York City as its American epicenter for a while. We are meant as a testing ground for everything. Every app starts its beta here. Almost every idea sees New York as a proving ground. “If you can make it there,” etc.
There’s a reason why you’re in, or you’re out. And now you know which is true.
If you’re in, you’re ALL in. And thank God you’re all in. Because New York is going to need ALL of you to move forward. I’m here to help you, too. -Scott