If you happen to have children ten years apart, I suggest a Wii. In fact, the writing of this post is brought to you by Wii Mario Sonic Olympic Winter Games, which Charlotte is playing while Beatrix cheers her on. Let's see how much I can get done during the Figure Skating finals. There have been some requests for longer posts, so I will type just as fast as the avatar bunny spins.
We left off with a tiger slaying. Charlotte was clearly in distress and wanted an Easter Bunny or a brother or sister.
We sat on the couch and Charlotte's tears poured over like a break in Hoover Dam (terrible metaphor, but I am speed writing).
"It's just, it's just..." she cried, "When you and Daddy die, I'll be all alone." She wasn't done. "And, and, my children won't have any cousins." Still not done. "And, and, I am just meant to have a brother or sister. I am not supposed to be an only child. Riley is an only child and she likes it. She said she gets to stay up late and watch TV whenever she wants and if she had a brother or sister she'd have to watch stupid cartoons." She looked at me with pleading eyes. "Please, Mommy. Please. Don't make me grow up alone."
Perhaps you, dear reader, are coming up with wonderful retorts in your head. I know I made some futile attempt to explain that if she married a man with a lot of siblings, that her children would have a lot of cousins, and I tried to maintain that she has cousins "who are like siblings to her " but trust me when I say that no response was going to satiate her. Charlotte was absolutely right. She would be a lonely and less happy soul without a brother or sister. No doubt about it. So I said the only thing I could think to say.
"I think you should talk to your Dad."
Before you totally judge me that I was passing her off, I am going to unpack my bags here a bit and talk about exactly why we only had one child. I talked to Rob about this last night and said, "Hey honey, happy father's day, do you mind if I talk about why we were resistant to having another child?" and I've been given the all clear to talk specifics. I actually decided that a time line might be the best be the clearest way to do it.
The discussion to have another child was kind of a bi-annual event. Sometimes less, sometimes more. I would estimate that 100% I brought it up, and 100% of the time I cried during the conversation. Before you make the assumption that I was always promoting the idea, I should say that often, very often, I was talking about how it was impossible. This is not a story about how Rob denied me a child and after 9 years of brain washing I finally got my kid to argue my case. (Although I have been begging for a dog for 20 years, that is true. Both times when I was pregnant and people would ask "Do you hope it is a girl or a boy?" I would respond, "I'm actually hoping for a litter of Golden Retrievers." Someday. Beatrix is my ticket. She's a dog lover and super cute. Rob will never be able to resist.)
I digress. Back to the story of how I have two children and a cat, but no dog.
Rob and I never signed a deal in blood that it would be "one and done" as they say. As Rob said the next day, after Charlotte had spoken to him--wait, wait--this part of the story is too good to skip--I had warned him that she was a little obsessed with this book and "might have some questions." In true Charlotte form, she came out the next morning and had that sparkly pink finger holding a place in the book. (It's 7 am, just to give you context, no coffee has been consumed.) She said, "Dad, I have a question," and popped the book open to a cartoon penis, she looked up at him and said, "What's an erection?" Brilliant. After laughing like a hyena when he told me later, I asked him what he said and he said, very matter of fact-ly, "I discussed blood flow." Just classic, classic, classic Rob Meffe answer. I can't make this shit up.
But I digress again. Back to the story of how 99% of all actors in New York have dogs, but no children, while I have 2 kids and no dog.
Where was I? Oh, why we didn't have a second child. Maybe it was because I get distracted so easily.
When I was coming up with the idea of writing this story, I wrote out a little time line, year by year, from Charlotte's birth to Beatrix's birth. It was really for my own notes, but maybe it is interesting to all of you. The thing to note is, I was 29 when I got pregnant with Charlotte (which is SO young in actress-has-a-baby land). I had time on my side, biologically speaking, so I don't think Rob or I felt a huge rush to have another one.
1998: Charlotte was born. Bliss and happiness. Rob was the associate conductor of Les Miserables on Broadway. We had some money saved, but we lived in a one-bedroom apartment-- meaning Charlotte slept in the room with us. Our friend David had built a little loft she slept under (storage on top), which our friend Liz made striped yellow and while curtains for. It just fit a crib and a small chest of drawers. We called it her "beach cabana." The apartment was convenient to our work in Times Square, on 56th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues in Manhattan. The neighborhood (at that time) was a little gritty (it has improved, but is still proudly called Hell’s Kitchen) and void of anything kid friendly. I remember visiting my parents in Cincinnati and marveling that every restaurant had high chairs and diaper changing tables. Unheard of in New York. No midtown restaurants were baby friendly at all in 1998, 1999, 2000. Rob and I used to carry around a folding chair that hooked to the table for Charlotte, or we’d just hold her while we ate. People would come and visit and they always said the same thing. "It's just so hard to have kids here."
1999: Just as Charlotte turns two, I am asked to start subbing in The Phantom Of The Opera on Broadway (I’d done the tour and was hired in to cover vacations on Broadway). In June I was cast in Cats on Broadway (not as a sub, I had a full time role.) Catsmeant two things….one was that Rob and I both had a regular job on Broadway (as regular as a job can be when you are dressing up as a cat and crawling around….but still…that wasn’t too far from what I was doing while playing with a toddler, and I was getting paid to do it) and the other thing was that it meant no more thoughts about babies because who would want to be pregnant in lycra? (Although many Cats performers did do the show pregnant. I. Can’t. Imagine.) We spend the better part of a year searching all over for a feasible 2 bedroom apartment to buy in Manhattan to no avail (meaning, even with all our savings it was too expensive). Instead, we buy a house in Putnam County, New York (a little log cabin), and we kept the apartment in midtown. We split our time between the two and start pouring all our money and time into the upstate house. This was a happy, happy time. It seemed like we would always have Broadway shows, we had an apartment in midtown, and we had a house with a yard.
September 2000:Cats (with the advertising campaign CATS: NOW AND FOREVER), announces that it is closing. Crap. We have a rent and a mortgage. What to do? Charlotte is 2 1/2.
2001: I do some subbing on the third national tour of Phantom (this means traveling with Charlotte). Rob continues at Les Miserables in New York. We break ground for a massive renovation and expansion at the upstate cabin, thinking that we can "flip it" and make some money.
September 11, 2001 happens. Everything turns upside down. It seems like planes are constantly flying at a low altitude over our apartment. I have terrible anxiety and go on Zoloft for a year. No baby making on Zoloft, as per the instructions.
In November, we get a notice in the mail that they are increasing our midtown rent by $500 a month. That’s right, just when the rest of Manhattan was taking a housing hit, we get pushed out by a rent increase. We decide to move 62 miles north to our now totally gutted house (there was no roof). Charlotte was 3 ½.
2002: We (Rob and I) pour all of our post 9-11 anxiety into renovating (bigger foot print, added a second story). We did all the work ourselves. In the fall, Les Miz announced it was closing in the spring, so within two years we are both going to be unemployed. We finish the house and put it on the market. It sells the day we list it and we pretty much make our money back plus a little to live on.
2003: We move back to Manhattan and rent an apartment, still unable to buy (84th and Amsterdam, 5th floor walk up), Les Miserables closes. Charlotte starts Kindergarten. I start to make some rumblings about having another baby. I am the only one making rumblings. Rob is unemployed and very clear that we can only afford one child. My biological clock starts a quiet tick. I am 35.
So folks, it's midnight, the children have been bathed and put to bed, and I have written in jerky installments. I will finish the time line tomorrow, and we will start to near the end of our story. I hope it was long enough for those of you who requested more. I'm pooped!