Watching Hudson’s eyes widen at the sight of grafitti had Aron and I talking about some of the funny realities we’ve encountered so far, having a baby in Manhattan. Believe it or not, and cost aside, New York seems like an amazing place for children. There are new playgrounds popping up all over the city and the parks are filled with young families (although the age of parents here skews high, so “young” is relative). Looking for culture? diversity? No problem. I watch kids riding the carousel under the Brooklyn bridge, doing gymnastics at Chelsea piers, ordering dim sum, or playing in AYSO games on the river and think: amazing! (And I look at all of the stylish moms here and feel inspired.) One other perk? I’ve always felt very comfortable breastfeeding in public. Now I know this isn’t necessarily inherent to the city, but I feel like the division between public and private space is so necessarily blurred by our small apartments and lack of backyards that no one bats an eye. And even if they did, there’s probably someone else clipping their toenails on the subway, so who cares about a discreetly nursing mother?
But on that note, I’ve had to tap my heel while nursing in the park to keep rats from running underfoot, and it’s not uncommon to have to let Hudson cry a few extra minutes so that I don’t have to sit on the park bench next to the guy who hasn’t showered in weeks. Scaffold construction and sirens routinely mess with my nap-on-the-go plans, and I’ve hid in our bathroom a couple of times because it’s the only place in our studio apartment with a door. Perhaps because we don’t use a car in the city (generally a big plus), Hudson has not gotten accustomed to his car seat and what could be a source of solace is a source of stress. And it’s a good thing I like using the carrier anyway: crowds and hip, tiny restaurants with vintage, handicap-inaccessible bathrooms make using the stroller unappealing most days.
We laughed about all of this as the guy in the construction hat (who is most definitely not a construction worker) asked me for the fifth time this week how old my baby is. He, like so many people here, smiles warmly and is nothing but welcoming of another baby to a city that seems more family-friendly every day.