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Last night, I went for a walk in Hoboken with a charming two-year-old child. "I have two mommies," she turned back to tell me as Pat and I followed our friends, her parents, and her down the stairs of the restaurant on our way to walking down Washington Street and then along the river.
"She's been telling everyone that lately," said one of the mommies.
We hadn't been to Hoboken since the girl's christening nearly three years ago. They were such a gorgeous couple, standing before their congregation with the baby and the priest at the Marble Collegiate Church in New York City.
Pat and I refer to couples like them (and like us) as "dark and light;" one has dark hair and the other light, and/or one's complexion is more fair than the other's. Their daughter is the two-year-old version of lithe, and perfectly-proportioned with silky, light-brown hair and a beautiful face, blessed with delicate features and sparkly-brown eyes.
The fair friend is now pregnant with twin girls, and due in five weeks. This friend and I both grew up in families of three sisters, and now, her partner and she are producing a family of three sisters.
"A boy would have been nice, I was thinking, but with twins, I probably would have been shell-shocked," she said.
"You should see our twin nephews," said Pat, "They're eight and they're adorable, but wild."
"I was wild, too," said our fair friend.
"Yeah, but there's tom-boy wild, and then there's boy-wild."
She smiled, probably remembering her own childhood-wildness.
When I first saw our pregnant friend, I was delighted. She looked as I expected. We hadn't seen one another in probably three or four months and with five weeks to go, she was dramatic...gorgeous as ever, and now, with a big bubble for a stomach.
In the parking garage, she volunteered, "I weigh 164 pounds now."
Incredulous, I blurted, "That's bigger than me!" [I'm nearly 5'10" and she's probably 5'6"]. I said it without thinking. Usually, I weigh anywhere from 145-150 pounds. I felt tactless and wished I could have made some flattering reference to her typical fitness without embarrassing myself through revealing that over the years, I had certainly noticed her beautiful, athletic body, and that it really looked as good as ever, simply with a bubble attached, but instead, just followed the exclamation with, "Well, there are three of you now."
"Yes, but still..." she said and then pulled up her sweater to show us how her belly-button was gone now. "I used to never be able to see the inside of my belly-button and now, it's just, well..." and she pointed at the taut asterisk at the center of her stomach.
My stomach and waist are among the most intimate parts of my body, and I was moved to see her belly, which she displayed for the first time, simply as evidence of her advanced pregnancy.
After dinner, our pregnant friend and I were walking toward the river with her daughter between us; her daughter held our hands and swung a bit, but not enough to strain her mother. Pat and her other mother followed behind us and we saw the Empire State Building in the near-distance.
"I wonder why it's blue and pink tonight," Pat said.
Pat usually knows why, checking "Time Out New York," and so I was surprised.
"Did you know that "Time Out New York" lists the significance?" our blond friend asked. By now, we were some distance ahead of Pat and the other friend.
"Yeah, Pat keeps track typically. In fact, back when I was trying to get pregnant [unsuccessfully, via anonymous donors and with nine IUIs, from age 36-38, and I'm 41 now, and our friend is just two weeks younger than I], Pat saw that one week, "Time Out" recommended that for parents who wanted to honor the Empire State Building, they ought to name their child either Empira or Scrapey. From that time on, Pat always referred to the non-embryo as 'Scrapey.'"
Our friend looked at me, but I didn't make eye contact. I'd never told anyone about that piece of the non-pregnancy saga. I hadn't even talked about the period of our trying in a long time.
"You know what this reminds me of?" I asked looking down at the brick walkway and changing the subject, "Of that time we went rollerblading in Liberty State Park. We had taken their daughter in one of those baby strollers that parents use when they want to go running. We went a bit faster than her other mother probably would have liked had she been there, and the daughter looked so cute in her baby-sunglasses and little hat...until, if I remember correctly, the hat blew off some distance prior, by the time we noticed. I don't recall if we found it or not.
"I miss that so much!"
It had been two springs ago and now, her daughter was stroller-less and talking as sophisticatedly as a three- or four-year-old kid, at not-yet three. She opted to hold my hand with her tiny one after getting up to walk on the low wall that bordered the park's lawn.
The other three adults were strolling ahead of us. Walking hand-in-hand, she was almost my height and we chatted about the bunny that had been darting around the park under the lights, and about a few topics I couldn't quite understand, but affirmed in any case. I recalled her parents mentioning that she had a friend Sarah, and so I said, "Tell me about your friend, Sarah."
"Sarah hit someone in the head with a hammer and had to have a time-out."
I looked at her with wider eyes.
"She lives in a house."
After that, we strolled quietly for a bit. Some distance ahead of us, I saw her parents and Pat, and two couples of teens walking behind them.
One of the mothers put her arm around the other as they walked. I felt tenderness and arousal at seeing two appealing women being romantically affectionate; I feared the teens behind them initally, but apparently, the teens were non-plused; felt shame at my fear; and longed for Pat, to whom I was sending psychic affection; and finally, felt pride at my so-far successful role as their daughter's playmate during the walk.
I can afford zero time for fun right now, as my final paper of the semester is due on Tuesday, the same day that I'm presenting an update to our leadership team at work, and that was my attitude as I walked away from my draft yesterday evening to meet our friends.
Today, though, I can't stop feeling a giant sweetness, recalling their daughter's tiny hand squeezing mine, and our chat and our stroll. Now, I am reminded of two kinds of pressure, one of which is pleasant, and which is better than the only sort I felt yesterday.
How have you spent meaningful time with a child lately?