A Slice of Life

by Marinka on August 9, 2011

I take the kids to tennis camp every morning on the subway.

Their school is walking distance from us, so this time together on the summer-pungent NYC subway is a treat. A time when we can talk. I’m guessing that the people who don’t have kids are thinking, what do you mean? You can talk to your kids any time. And the parents recognize the opportunity–the kids are trapped. And they have to talk to you.

And on Monday, my daughter asks me– how many times have you been to your parents’ house in Queens, mommy?

It’s a fair question, my parents moved to Queens after I graduated from college, their apartment was never my home.

“I’d been to their house many times,”I tell them over the subway din. “Once I even lived with them for a week.”

My kids are excited.

“Why?” they ask, united.

“It’s complicated,” I tell them.

“I know,” Young Ladrinka is confident. “You were poor.”

“No,” I say. Although I sort of was.

They quiz me further, asking me for details. By the time we pass the Rockefeller Center stop, I relent.

“I had a boyfriend,” I tell them.

“Daddy?” my daughter asks.

I shake my head. They know so little of my life as an adult, before their father. Surely the morning commute is a great time to fill them in.

“I had a boyfriend and we lived together,” I start. I wonder whether this is one of those teachable moments that everyone keeps harping about. Should I inject a little living together in sin, like savages or but only because we had both graduated from college and had jobs.

But I don’t.

“And then we broke up,” I tell them. “And while he was moving out, I stayed at my parents.”

My daughter takes it in.

“Did he dump you?” Young Ladrinka asks.
“No,” I tell him. Although he sort of did.
“Did he cheat on you?” Young Ladrinka suggests.
“No, he didn’t cheat on me.”

“Were you sad?” my daughter asks me.
And I tell them that I was.
“Like crying sad?”
I nod.
“I was sad,” I say. “I was sad that a relationship with someone I loved didn’t work out. It hurt my heart.”

They are watching me closely and I can see what they’re thinking.

Our mother has a history. Our mother had heartbreak. Our mother is a person.

In a few minutes we will get off the subway and they’ll be off to tennis camp, laughing with their friends, working on their serves, being kids.

But until then they’re mine.

And I try to steel them for what’s inevitably to come.

“You’ll have heartbreak too,” I tell them. “And it will hurt and you will cry. But it always get better. Always.”

“Because you met daddy,” my daughter says.
“Duh,” Young Ladrinka says.

I got my teachable moment after all.

One year ago ...

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

MJ August 9, 2011 at 6:09 am

What a great moment. I hope I get to gave a moment like that and handle it as gracefully as you did.


Sophie@Fabrications August 9, 2011 at 6:18 am

Kids’ questions can be scary, but then their responses to your answer can melt your heart.


August 9, 2011 at 8:53 am

Young Ladrinka is very poetic!


August 9, 2011 at 9:05 am

What a charming story. I remember realizing my parents were real people with lives of their own, and I remember seeing a similar understanding dawning in my older kids. It seems that it’s always poignant, that first connection beyond the parent/child relationship.


August 9, 2011 at 9:20 am

Awwww. That actually made me a little sniffly.


dusty earth mother August 9, 2011 at 10:30 am

Loved this.


Megan August 9, 2011 at 10:30 am

I love those moments.


August 9, 2011 at 10:31 am

Dude, when did you decide to go all mushy on me. Go back to Russian Dolls & reality TV, please. Tears are coming too easily these days and I depend on you for a nice belly laugh.

Oh, good on ya’ too: all that capitalizing on a perfect teachable moment. Good job.


Loukia August 9, 2011 at 11:10 am

Lordy. Crying at work is the most I have accomplished today since returning to work from BlogHer. I’m so emotional lately, and I was emotional in San Diego. I sat on a bench and cried my eyes out by myself during the day on Saturday. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.

Thanks for this story. xox


the mama bird diaries
August 9, 2011 at 11:11 am

Love, love, love this post. So sweet.


Betsy August 9, 2011 at 12:04 pm

My kids, especially my oldest, thinks it’s hilarious that I had boyfriends before I met their daddy. Just hearing their mother use the word “boyfriend” is inherently funny to them.


By Word of Mouth Musings
August 9, 2011 at 12:14 pm

You try so hard, but no matter what … this sweet side of you seeps into your blog and its delicious 😉
My kids think that i already knew their Dad when the world began … ack, wish it could stay that way.


Roxanne August 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Such a lovely moment.


awesome dude August 9, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Your memory is better than mine.


A Mommy in the City
August 9, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Such a precious story. Love that those teachable moments can come from nowhere and yet be so memorable!


Tracy @nystoopmama
August 9, 2011 at 1:18 pm

*sniff sniff* (Why is everything making me cry so far this week?)

Sweet post.


Anna Lefler
August 9, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Well, I just effing loved this post.

We must get subways in Los Angeles, if only so stuff like this will happen.


August 9, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Oh I love when you let us in like this, now my Marinka doll can have “warm and fuzzy feelings” and “teachable moments” added to her repertoire.


August 9, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Smart kids 🙂


Tania August 9, 2011 at 3:15 pm

I love this post what a great moment


August 9, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Is this the story of when John told you he was gay?


August 9, 2011 at 4:02 pm

And I thought the NY subway was a place of all grit and no heart. I stand corrected.


August 9, 2011 at 5:30 pm

That managed to be amazingly sweet and funny.

It is strange to think that our parents are people. I’m still not convinced that mine are. I like to think they cease to exist unless I’m around them. God imagine what they could be doing on their own right now, unsupervised!


tracey August 9, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Awwww!! This was really sweet! I always expect some snarkiness from you but you never cease to surprise me.


Sarah at The Stroller Ballet August 9, 2011 at 8:08 pm

I love this story! It brought tears to my eyes. Mental note: plan activities that require subway time as Peanut gets older 🙂


August 9, 2011 at 9:49 pm

I make my kid talk to me on the ride to school. We may have to carpool this year & I will miss our 10 minutes of alone time.


Steph August 9, 2011 at 11:38 pm

how wonderfully sweet was your teaching moment. wishing you many more. (well, of course of the good kind)


August 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Let me just come out of the woodwork over here to say that today, this is just what I needed to read. Sometimes you just need a reminder…so thanks for passing along your teaching moment to someone else’s kid too. 🙂


Karen at French Skinny August 10, 2011 at 3:40 pm

You just made my heart hurt…..



annie May 8, 2013 at 11:08 am

How did I miss this beautiful post? LOVE IT!! Thanks for linking to it today.


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