My Cabbie, The Parent Expert

 My Cabbie, The Parent ExpertI was running late for a writing session with my dear and gorgeous friend Jondi Whitis in Brooklyn this morning.  If you are familiar with NYC, you know that subways between Manhattan and Brooklyn don’t always run so well on weekends, an experience I learned the hard way from living in Brooklyn last summer.  So I grabbed a cab, put my head phones on and settled in for the long ride from the UWS to Park Slope.

Luckily for me, my cabbie would have none of it.  He wanted to talk, which is rare for a NYC cabbie.

OK, since I’m interested in hearing people’s stories, I slid the Bose QC3s from my ears and tuned in, pulling myself forward in the seat to hear him better as he talked about how much safer NYC is now than 17 years ago when he first began driving cabs.  He told me story after colorful story of those early days of living on $20 for the whole week and I enjoyed every minute, one eye on the glassy Hudson River as we drove along, one eye on my driver.  He was born in Bangladesh.  Since I figured he was in the right age range, I wanted to ask him what it was like to live there in its transition from being East Pakistan to Bangladesh, but I held my tongue, not wanting to be insensitive.  That was a civil war afterall…  (remember George Harrison – my favorite Beatle – and his song about the troubles there called ‘Bangladesh’?)

Then my driver began to speak about his only son, who is finishing college.  His pride in his boy was so clear that it made me smile.  I love to hear parents talk about their kids.  I’m a sucker for those conversations and could listen all day long, maybe because I love my own daughter so much.  (One of my favorite staff members of all time, Ben Jones, once remarked to me that my staff took bets on how long it would take before I worshipfully mentioned Nora every day.  😉  Hey, I could be known for worse…)

Then this dignified man from Dhaka told me that he was driving the night shift in NYC when his son was small.  He rarely saw his son as he did whatever it took to make a living.  One day, when the boy was in 1st grade, he complained to his Dad that he never saw him and that he missed him.  The driver’s wife said that all evening long when the boy was doing homework, he was anxious about when his Dad was coming home again.  The very day his son told him this, my driver quit the night shift and went to a tougher day shift.

This is where the conversation got really good.

This beautiful man told me that he did whatever it took to put his only child first.  “After that I spent as much time with him as I could.  There is no substitution for time.  If you put the time into your children, all will be fine.  They will be grounded and settled.”  His son is headed to medical school in the fall, the first in the family to become a professional.  😉

And I thought about the rest of us – me included – who work all the time and squeeze our children in where we can.  I thought about that bulls**t concept I used to believe about how quality trumps quantity and my heart broke in the back of that cab.  This is the dilemma of modern motherhood – who comes first, our own self or our children?

I do know that in this swirling and frenetic world, there is no substitute for time.  We only have so many moments with our loved ones, only so many minutes with our little ones before they are off and swimming in their own big sea.  I honestly felt regret today as this man spoke of his parenting and I said a silent prayer that my own parenting was sturdy enough, loving enough, to see my daughter through for the rest of her life.

Another amazing NY moment…

Less Stress, More Success

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Our book group just read your book and it sparked more conversation than we’ve had in the seven years we’ve been reading together. Being successful professionals with busy lives and even busier children, we’re all trying to figure out how to find the time to just stop and enjoy our lives amidst so much pressure. Some of us find ourselves quoting you to our husbands and kids now, so you are our hero. ;-)
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