One of the great pleasures of visiting New York, other that sushi delivery, is that I get to see two of my most favorite people in the whole world: Liz's girls.
"You have six kids now!" they giggled, after we had finished a rousing game of apartment ball toss (which involves bouncing a small ball and catching it with your feet while you're sitting in a chair, if you're wondering).
You would think that with four kids at home, I'd want to hide myself away in a quiet corner somewhere so I could hear my own thoughts.
But that's not actually the case. There's something comforting about plopping down next to my dear friend (and business partner) and her couch and working like we would if we had an office.
And I really do like spending time with her kids, playing with them, eating my beloved sushi while they nibble on white rice and soy sauce, and then taking way too many goofy photos on my computer.
I'd like to think I'd play with my own kids the same way if we weren't actually in our house, the same way beloved aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas, even that favorite babysitter do.
Because with having kids comes a messy house and piles of laundry and 4000 other things on your list that seem so pressing that actually playing with them and enjoying their company seems like another thing on the list.
But when you're a guest, when there's someone else to do all that, and you can be the fun one, who pretends her legs are a tightrope for little girls to walk up.
I've often joked that I'm a really good parent outside of my house, not just to other peoples' kids, but to my own, when the trappings of home ownership and the responsibilities of adulthood are temporarily put on hold. The phone turned off and tucked away in my purse, and the bills and the taxes that are due and GOD WHAT DO I MAKE FOR DINNER are paused, if only for a few hours.
And suddenly I'm no longer a spectator in my own kids' lives.
Soon the requests for me to play tea and princess and chase will stop because they'll learn that "in a minute" actually means "never." And the things that I think are so pressing, the ridiculous minute inconsequential things (in the long scheme, of course) are more important.
Somehow I've led myself to believe that I should be able to juggle just as well when I'm home alone as when I've got my husband home to help me, which really makes no logical sense whatsoever, as if the messy floor and unfolded laundry are some indication of failure.
Instead of a to-do list, I'm starting a "DO RIGHT NOW" and a "WHAT CAN WAIT" list. The clothes might be more wrinkled. The floors will be less clean.
And I'll probably still be exhausted. But from too much tea and dress-up and playing apartment ball toss with my own kids.