I had pretty much had my fill of the bohemian life. As a journalist and film critic, I regularly attended film premieres, art openings, and late-night parties. Before I got married, my roommate and I had earned a reputation for throwing raucous parties, which attracted an eclectic mix of indie filmmakers, aspiring photographers, and grunge musicians. I remember one particularly lively bash where a prominent German film director and his drag queen date made their dramatic entrance just as a troupe of fully costumed Shakespearean actors were exiting.
Avo and I had viewed raising a kid in the East Village as a badge of coolness. Unlike other parents who wimped out by bringing their children up in the suburbs (where I had grown up), we were proud to be living on the edge. Rather than cart Jesse around in a minivan, we traveled by bus or subway. Instead of a backyard, Jesse relied on seedy Tompkins Square Park for her fresh air.
But, however much we cherished our lifestyle, we had now been forced to come to terms with the fact that we were on the verge of outgrowing our six-hundred-square-foot walk-up apartment. Since we planned to start work on producing a little sister or brother for Jesse sometime soon, we would need more space. Known for its Victorian town houses and liberal denizens, Park Slope, we rationalized, would be the East Village but with less graffiti and more greenery. After moving on Christmas Eve, we rang in the New Year eating take-out pizza by the fireplace. Now that we're here, my greatest fear is that I'm going to become a New York City cliché: the Park Slope mom. In the East Village, parenthood made us seem brave. In Park Slope, we are soldiers in an army of parents each marching to orders barked by minisergeants in strollers. Children are the unofficial entry ticket to this neighborhood, where double strollers bottleneck the sidewalks and nursing moms and haggard dads wearing BabyBjörns dominate the cafés.
I've tried hard to balance the stay-at-home-mom life with freelance writing, but switching gears is more challenging than I thought it would be. Occasionally, I manage to put aside the dirty diapers to write articles for various newspapers and magazines. Aside from making some extra cash, it's also an insurance policy that I won't lose my mind entirely to mommy stuff.
As I line Jesse's bookshelves with her favorite Winnie-the-Pooh and Maurice Sendak books, it strikes me that we are creating the home where Jesse will form her first memories. I hope we can give her the stability that my parents provided for me. As a teenager, I found their normality oppressive, but while I was growing up, it was comforting to know that I could rely on them to behave like the supportive parents I saw on my favorite TV show, The Brady Bunch. I could always count on my mother to contribute to the school bake sale, conjure up creative Halloween costumes, and volunteer to be the Brownie leader. Dad always caught his commuter train and made it home in time for dinner with the family, which my mom dutifully had on the table promptly at six p.m.
Since I can't cook or sew and don't have much interest in being a den leader, I'm resigned to the fact that I won't live up to Brady Bunch standards of motherhood. The only thing I hope to emulate is the unflagging sense that my parents would always be there for my brother and me when we needed them.