A part of my heart will always be in New York City. I considered myself a New Yorker years ago when I lived here to pursue my dream of dancing professionally. There was something about this incredible city that immediately drew me in. It captivated me with it’s energy, grittiness, and unrelenting life pulse.
It became the perfect example of a “love/hate” relationship. I loved the hard pavement under my feet and the rush of the subway each time it arrived in the station. And the endless opportunities the city heralds were intoxicating.
But, I also struggled with never seeing the horizon and how that eventually feels like slow suffocation. Having grown up in place full of rivers, lakes and bluffs, it eventually took it’s toll. However, I still have an intense love for this city. Being able to come back with my daughters and to watch them experience it for the first time was priceless.
Before we arrived I was very clear with the girls on what our expectations were in order to keep them safe. So as we drove into the city for the first time that night Katherine promptly reiterated the rules. “Mommy, rule number one is to stay close to Mommy and Daddy. Rule number two is don’t get distracted. Rule number three is follow rule number one and number two.” Yep, baby girl, you’ve got it.
We woke up the first morning and hit the streets with both girls in hand. As I figured I would, I got emotional. (I tend to do that a lot lately. No judging. No apologies.) I was feeling nostalgic and completely comfortable back in the environment I still feel is “home”. Knowing that I was about to pull back the curtain on a past life and share it with my girls got to me.
We had a packed weekend that included the American Museum of Natural History, and getting pretzels in Central Park. Then some New York pizza, the Empire State Building at night, and riding the subway, taxis, and pedicabs. Times Square was next as we strategically maneuvering them to avoid some of the more “interesting” sites. And then we took them to their first official Broadway shows.
The first was Disney’s Aladdin, and it was fantastic. At intermission the girls were like magpies chirping and gesturing in the line for the restroom completely overwhelmed and excited about everything they were seeing. They belly laughed and cheered through the entire performance. We chuckled as they danced their way out of the theater as I followed with my heart bursting.
The second show was My Fair Lady. Through a friend of a friend, Andrew was able to get us backstage to meet one of the actors. We were able to get a tour of the magic that goes into making a Broadway show a reality.
When we stood on the beautiful stage in Lincoln Center, I watched Katherine standing alone, gazing up at the empty seats knowing what was going through her head. And as if to confirm my suspicions, when we walked exited the stage, she said to me, “I want to sing on this stage someday, even if there aren’t any people in the seats.” Since the day she was born, this child has been “acting”.
I don’t know where this passion or gift will take her. But, I only hope this experience will be one of many that may shape who she will become someday.
One of my goals of this trip was to teach my girls about confidence. I want them to learn how to not shy away from new experiences. My desire is to raise strong, independent women who are both gracious and street smart.
So they each had their own Metro card and were responsible for getting themselves in and out of the subway turnstiles. They had to navigate the crowds, and find the exits. (You can stop hyperventilating. We had our eyes and hands on them like white on rice so don’t call CPS on us.)
Lauren in particular loved the subway. I showed her how to determine if we should ride the Uptown train or the Downtown train. Before long, she was our “tour guide” of the underground.
The other goal was to help cast vision for them. They may never find themselves in a place like New York City, but by exposing them to the opportunities that this world can offer them I’m helping them dream. I wan them to dream big.
God has big plans for all of us. My job as a parent is to give my children that strong breeze that will help their wings take flight.
So, now as I watch the beautiful cityscape shrink in the distance, and sip my airplane ginger ale, I feel a little sad that this experience is over. But, I know the Big Apple hasn’t seen the last of us.
I’m tickled pink that my girls have a new appreciation for, and maybe a twinge of a crush, on a city that I love. I will never push my path on their lives. Finding their path is God’s job, but if I can open their eyes to the endless possibilities out there…..
then I’ve done mine.