Elena Bowes

New York-London design & culture writer of a certain vintage looking for meaning and wholeness in life

Parenting – a few thoughts on…

July 22nd, 2019

I got my haircut last week from ace NYC hairdresser Elie Camoro.

Have you had your baby yet? I asked as Elie snipped.

Yes, a week ago.  We named him Cosmo which means order, decency and beauty. I have to tell you that when I was holding Cosmo in the hospital, and I looked at my wife and our three-year-old son Marco, I thought, I’m good. I need for nothing in life but to provide for my family and make them happy.

I nodded and smiled.

That morning my 25- year-old son Thomas called me

‘Thomas?!’ I answered on the half ring.

No response.

Thomas? I said.

No response.

By the fifth ‘Thomas?’ I hung up and texted him.

In addition to getting accidental calls, I get accidental texts too

Elie has no idea what’s coming – I decide not to burst his bubble.

At least, when Stretch calls and texts me, it’s not an accident.  He, too, is an empty nester.

Seems to be AOK …

Maybe it’s a Mom thing.  Being a mother is complicated- first they need you to survive, and then before you know it, the only time you hear from them is when their cell does the dialling. Can a phone feel empathy?

I keep track of Kate via her fiancé’s Instagram stories. She’s usually smiling and dancing.

Sounds like she’s very happy, says my mother.

She is.

That’s the thing – you want your children to be happy and independent (!), but that doesn’t mean you don’t reminisce, a little. She, who sucked her thumb so much it shrank, now wears a gorgeous engagement ring (not on her thumb).

I got lucky with Julia. She had her wisdom teeth removed last week and Nurse Elena was at the ready.

Did I need to spend the whole day lying in bed next to the patient who was quietly watching Friends. You betcha.

This is the perfect way for you to be a nurse Mommy, no cooking required. I beamed with maternal joy.

Last summer Thomas had kidney surgery (he’s fine now, and thank you for asking). We spent some quality time together – Thomas, me and his catheter. I washed and cleaned and would have sung like Doris Day if I could carry a tune.

I know my therapist would  not approve if I confessed that I secretly hope my kids get just a little sick, enough to need a nurse, but not life threatening in any way. Thomas hasn’t had his wisdom teeth out yet- that kind of wishful thinking.

I told my mother that I didn’t know what I would talk about if I didn’t talk about my kids and coffee tables – I am furnishing a NYC apartment and had no idea how many coffee tables there are out there.

You’d just talk about your dogs, she quipped.

I don’t want to be that person, I answered.

When my friend Lauren became an empty nester she started sending her kids daily videos of their dog Rufus – drinking, sleeping eating, running. The kids almost did an intervention. Luckily, Lauren got the job she always should have had,  as a real estate agent, and is too busy now to send videos.

Lauren has always loved talking about other peoples’ houses, the way Londoners talk about the weather and New Yorkers the traffic. She would never tire of hearing me go on about coffee tables or my kids. Or my dogs. She doesn’t mind that I am that person. She is too.

Think I’ll call her right now.

I’ll leave you with this comforting thought from my heroine, Nora Ephron:

Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy.

Happy Summer!

July, 2019