Thursday, August 06, 2009

Three Girls, Two Cities, One Day

Ellen Burstyn lived as a homeless person for a few days to step out of her comfort zone. I don't need to go quite that far just yet. For me, stepping out of my own comfort zone only requires me taking the girls into two cities, aboard two trains, on three cab rides and onto the steamy streets of New York. All in just twelve hours.

Even though I stay home with my kids I don't really think of myself as a hands-on mother. I still work, travel and am independent from them. It is a system that works well for us most of the time. TD was a year old before I had ever taken her to the grocery store on my own. Taking a three year-old and a nine month old on a day excursion to one of the world's largest cities is not something I find within my means of momfidence. It is more of an adventure.

Then HIT Entertainment invited us up for a few hours of Thomas the Train goodness and I felt I couldn't say no. It was right up TD's alley. I knew it would be a day we wouldn't soon forget in either a "Wow! This is the best day ever!" or "Holy hell, I am not so friggin' smot, now am I?" I packed minimally, brought the craptastic umbrella stroller and talked up the trip to death with TD. It's the only way to get her to be good to go in any situation. We had snacks galore, activities and a leash. We were ready to hit Union Station. I am loathe to drive into the city and if a GPS wasn't in my car I think I might have blown a blood vessel at one point. We boarded our train and it was all going well until we got delayed picking up passengers from a broken down train near Baltimore. If I had only TD I probably could have twittered away the trip, snapped cute photos and been the best little blogging chronicler on the eastern seaboard but I was wrangling a non-napping Comedian and a fidgety dictator so being Mom 2.0 wasn't in the cards.

By the time we hit a steamy Penn Station and hailed a cab (a first for me! fist bumps all around!) we were an hour late for the Thomas event. After running through a freak rain shower and up two elevator rides we arrived. Just as everyone was leaving. I was disappointed and felt bad that I just dragged the girls all that way for what seemed to be the end of a party. However, the HIT people played the Thomas clips again, let the girls play with the train toys, eat some snacks and I was able to catch my breath. I got to hang out with these fine ladies too which always makes my day.

After noshing a quick cupcake Isabel saved the remainder of our day by whisking us down to Central Park. A first for the girls and I. The abbreviated tour had TD and I riding the Carousel, throwing pennies into the Bethesda fountain, posing at Alice and Wonderland and more. It was just the balm we needed on our chaotic day. After placing us into a cab we said good-bye to Isabel (aka- "Mommy, that lady? In the orange shirt? She's your friend? I like her." I am still hearing this a day later.) and took a roller coaster cab ride back to the train station. I give mad props to the cabbies of NYC for their driving skilz. The girls and I actually enjoyed seeing the city in a whizz-bang sort of way and they were ever so helpful with all our gear.

Whoever said New Yorkers were mean was dead wrong. We would not have made it through the day without them. From the burly man who helped TD down the stairs by holding her leash for me as another one carried our stroller to the woman who gave us her place in line after we missed our train and needed new tickets. Both girls were in full-on screaming dictator meltdown mode complete with flames coming from their ears and daggers from their eyes. I think I saw some people turn into pillars of salt after laying eyes on them. This woman just graciously let us in as I thanked her with my eyes full of tears. Just as we were heading to the train we encountered our last obstacle (Ha! Who am I kidding? The first obstacle on our trek home is more like it.) - a very narrow, steep escalator. Silly me. I forgot that TD had never been on one and that strollers are not allowed on them at Penn Station. Even with all their elevators broken. (Gah! Much swearing, using phrases like, "well that's handy!" and teeth gnashing!) Three women swooped in, glared at the Amtrak employee for telling me to shove back through the line of people to find "some elevator if you can.." and helped me out. One grabbed my stroller, another took The Comedian and covered her with kisses while I escorted TD down the escalator. They didn't stop there. They found us seats and settled us into them and really saved my sanity. I wanted to hug them. Yes, really. Actually, I did.

The train ride home was a bit easier. The girls slept most of it and even changing them in a train bathroom wasn't so bad. Minus The Comedian trying to eat tp off the floor. I'm gagging right now too. People helped us out, commented on how good they were and one man showed me a beer ad in his magazine and said, "You deserve one of these right now."

We arrived back in our nation's Capitol close to eleven p.m. I knew we were back home when I tried to ask a woman for help in the deserted parking garage and she refused to acknowledge my repeated pleas/bellows of, "Excuse me? Ma'am?" repeatedly. Because a woman with a baby in a stroller, two bags and a toddler on a backpack leash is really going to chase you down and knife you. Sure. All I wanted to know was where I could go to pay for my parking, lady. I think there's a special place in purgatory and hell for people like that. It's called, "The Bitch's Lair" and no it is not as cool as it sounds. It's all one big deserted parking garage filled with muggers lying in wait and snakes. Scores of snakes! And um.. no water, only really salty pretzels from grimy vending machines and no matter how hard you try you can never find your car. Bwahahaha....

So yes, in a long-winded way I just told you all about how I got out of my comfort zone. I took the girls on an adventure all of my own making and we had a blast. It was a nice bonding time for us in a way that a shopping trip or time at the movies never could be.

Incidentally, the new Thomas the Train movie is awesome! Thomas talks in it too! I typically find CGI films for kids to be extremely creepy in a "Can't sleep, clowns will eat me" type way. It's stunning really. The quality of this new film is beautiful and it actually held my attention. It debuts in early September and is a whole 60 minutes long. It's coming soon to a theatre near you! Stay tuned!


  1. Oh my gah! you missed your train home? I'm soooo sorry. I didn't realize we were cutting it so close with the last stop in Central Park. My apologies!!!!!! My heart dropped when I read that.

    Gosh, you handled a crazy day with aplomb. Mad props to you for that. Seriously.

    And, it was great seeing you and meeting TD & the Comedian. They are gorgeous and soooo sweet.


  2. Wow, congrats on this day! I am impressed. And what a success to go so out of your comfort zone and come out alive. You should really feel proud of yourself. I hope you bragged about this trip to the local moms. ;)


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