Local New Yorkers will recall the recent horrifying news story of a young mother who fell down a flight of subway stairs to her death while carrying her child in a stroller. Even though it has turned out that the woman had a pre-existing health condition that was more likely the cause of her death than the fall down the stairs, the incident has served as both a wake-up call and a call to arms. On the one hand, it’s served as a reminder to travel with caution. On the other, it’s become a rallying cry for us to demand that the city of New York improve the accessibility of so many of its subway stations. Though I have found fellow New Yorkers to be exceptionally kind — I can’t tell you how often people stop to help me carry mini’s stroller up or down the stairs! — it is still unconscionable that so many of the stops are inaccessible to those with disabilities or those traveling on their own with small children. And don’t even get me started on my current bugaboo: the alarms that sound when you use the emergency doors at the turnstiles. If you are a parent traveling on your own with a child in a stroller, the only way to access the trains is to position your child in her stroller by an emergency door, rush over to the turnstile to let yourself through using your subway card (all the while, your heart in your throat and your gaze constantly flicking over your shoulder to make sure no harm has befallen your baby), and then sprint to the emergency door to prop it open so you can wheel your child through. I once tried to use the turnstiles by folding up the stroller and carrying it and mini through, but we literally did not fit! I got stuck and ended up having to toss my expensive travel stroller onto the ground to get through. Anyway — the MTA has recently installed alarms on these emergency doors, presumably to deter most able-bodied foot traffic from using them in non-emergency situations and to reduce the number of fare-skippers, but this means that the only way a mom can get her stroller onto the subway is by sounding an alarm and sheepishly feeling as though she is doing something illicit. It is a horrible experience.
At any rate, the incident with the mother falling down the subway stairs and the installation of these alarms has sparked countless conversations between myself and my fellow mom friends, and has been top of mind for me in the past week or two since the story first ran.
But the other day, my nanny called in sick just after I’d chugged the sugar formula for my standard-issue pregnancy glucose test, and I had no choice but to bring mini along with me to the doctor’s appointment, which is a subway trip away. I navigated the entire thing just fine despite having to take mini in and out of her stroller a few times to accommodate an elevator-less destination station and the visit to the doctor, but then, after we’d walked ten blocks to my favorite coffee shop (Irving Farm) for a quick oat milk latte and donut before visiting the Children’s Museum, I realized with dread that there were two steps down to the entrance of the cafe. I stalled for a second. I could either go through the whole ordeal of taking mini out of the stroller, collapsing it, carrying it down the steps while yelling at mini to stay put, carrying her down — all while running the daunting risk of a tantrum when trying to place her back into the stroller a few minutes later, or I could carry the entire stroller with her in it down the two steps to the entrance. And so I went with the latter. I figured two seconds of mild discomfort outweighed the potential for a two-year-old-tantrum. I knew I shouldn’t have done it: I can hardly lift her while in her stroller when I’m not six months pregnant and not wearing a backpack, but there I was, shakily teetering down the two steps.
As I ordered our treats, an elderly gentleman stopped me.
“Please don’t do that again,” he said, gesturing to the stairs. “I watched you, and was horrified. That woman on the news…!”
I felt a range of emotions that ran from righteous rage to lip-biting embarrassment. A part of me wanted to snap back at him: “Well, why didn’t you help then?” And another part of me recoiled at his patronizing tone. But the biggest part of me wanted to wail: “I know, I know. I know I shouldn’t have done it, and I did it. And I could have injured myself — or, worse — my baby, or the unborn baby I’m carrying. And for what?! A coffee? Saving a few minutes? Pre-empting a tantrum?” And so I just said:
“You’re right. Thank you.” He looked back at me and said:
“You remind me of my daughter-in-law. I would say the same thing to her. Please take care.”
I’m awash in gratitude and heartburn. The experience reminded me that there’s nothing to be gained from a lazy man’s load. I had just earlier in the week applauded myself for letting mini walk alongside the stroller more and more frequently at her own pace. It is slow-going, but who cares? (Helloooo, slow parenting.) When we have nowhere urgent to be, it’s heart-warming and relaxing to take in the world from her perspective, in her chelonian stride, as she dawdles in front of store-fronts and winces at pigeons and stomps on top of subway grates. I need to extend that mode of acceptance to all realms of my life — most notably any involving stairs and strollers. OK, so it will add an extra five minutes to our day. OK, so I might be facing a tantrum. So what? The only objectives we had in our post-appointment morning was to visit the museum, have lunch at Orwasher’s, and get home to walk Tilly by 1, none of which would have been derailed by taking the time to remove mini from the stroller and negotiate her back in. As it turned out, after my interaction with the gentleman, I ended up taking her out of her stroller before re-ascending the stairs anyway. And, of course, she then refused to get back into the stroller, and so we walked four excruciatingly slow blocks to the museum, dotted through with hug breaks, brief sprints of carrying, and the endlessly amusing running commentary of my two-year-old daughter. (“PU!” she cried, when she noticed a dog relieving himself on the corner. “He funny,” she said, pointing at a well-heeled gentleman next to us who had done nothing humorous.)
I have been beating myself up about the entire incident, agonizing over my split-second decision to carry mini down the two steps when I was so clearly out of balance and out of shape. I should know better, especially after God reminded me to slow way down and when I just rhapsodized about the spurning the promise of shortcuts. But I am thankful for the concern of this stranger, who set me straight even when I didn’t want to hear it, and even moreso that it came to me without injury first.
No more lazy man’s loads for this busy woman. I’m swearing them off.
However, I am not swearing off top-handle bags, no matter how impractical and hands-full they leave you. Just — not while I’m balancing mini. I love the micro top-handle Gucci shown at the very top of this post, along with this, this (#swoon), this (snakeskin is so on point R.N.), this, and this (under $100).
+Loving this cheery pink coat with light-wash denim for early spring!
+This striped tee is exactly what I want to be wearing RN. Contemplating ordering a size or two up to accommodate le bump, but would look SO cute with white denim or joveralls…
+Love these rubber toys from Oli & Carol, which are mold-resistant (!!) and made from all natural rubber. I love the vintage styling. Going to be pairing these with future baby gifts.
+Amazon can be a great place to score affordable everyday finds for minis. I often stock up on amazing pieces from Polarn O. Pyret at great prices (like these leggings) and hoodies like this from Burts Bees. If you’re not familiar with Scani brand Polarn O. Pyret, do yourself a favor — the quality is INCREDIBLE.
+Loving this shoulder bag.
+A reader wrote in to sing the praises of this side-vent sweatshirt. LOVE. Ordering in the sky blue.
+Has anyone tried the natural beauty brand Earth Tu Face? I really want to try this rose + geranium lotion, which is gentle enough to use on your face.
+On a lark, I picked up this volumizing paste from Christophe Robin. I don’t know why, in retrospect, as I didn’t much care for his shampoo/conditioner, but I have been in search of new volumizing solutions for my decidedly flat and fine hair. THIS STUFF WORKS. OMG. It’s super bizarre to rub this gritty paste into your hair, but it actually lathers up nicely and TRULY ADDS VOLUME TO THE CROWN OF YOUR HEAD. Like, I was astounded at the results. My hair literally bounced back up every time I depressed it. I can’t describe it well, but my mind is blown.
+These color-edged lucite frames from Canetti are super cool.
+Darling. (And discounted. Does it get better?!)