Having a daughter is a pure romance in itself, where you are in love with your child but completely non-possessive. It’s different to any relationship I’ve had. It’s on a higher level of purity. Closer to divine love. It’s made me aware of a capacity for love that I wasn’t aware I possessed, and that’s one of the few things that make me feel better about myself day to day.
I recently finished reading The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, and damn was it good! Now that I’m done, I’m reading every interview with Eugenides that I can get my hands on, and it’s become apparent that the Pulitzer Prize-winning author is a genius—especially when it comes to his child.
I have a son and feel the same way that Eugenides does about his daughter: It’s different than any relationship I’ve had. It’s on a higher level of purity. Closer to divine love.
As I write this blog, I’m watching Harry play with his new Thomas the Tank Engine collection. It’s pretty incredible to watch him learn, before my eyes, how to push trains and build tracks. (For all those non-parents out there, I know that it sounds like pure hell, but I promise, it’s not.) I’ve also discovered that there is nothing I wouldn’t do for him—including a trip to the zoo.
I view the zoo the same way I view changing a dirty, number-two diaper—just something I’d rather not do. I’m not an animal person in general, and I really think zoos are rather cruel. They remind me of visiting a prison, except that the animals behind the bars can’t let you know how miserable their lives are. But kids love animals (I guess), so last Wednesday I took Harry to the Prospect Park Zoo.
After an enjoyable bike ride together up Vanderbilt Ave to Prospect Park, we hit a few playgrounds, splashed in a couple of puddles, and eventually locked the bike outside the zoo. After that, things got rocky.
Harry was hot, cranky, and hungry. Desperate to stop his whining, I hurried off the bike. It was during this mad dash that I managed to trip over the bike’s pedals, fall to the ground, and rip my white pants wide open. In between paying for a ticket and finding a cracker at the bottom of my purse for Harry to munch on, I surveyed the apparel damage. It was a large rip in the crotch area that threatened to expose my blue underwear to the entire zoo and its guests. One false move, or more accurately, one playground snafu with Harry, and this rip would mean a long, embarrassing, left butt cheek-exposed, ride back to Fort Greene with a screaming baby on the backseat.
So I ventured into the zoo carefully.
After looking at some seals, which Harry didn’t care for, we headed to the zoo’s farm. I tried to act excited when we saw a cow and a turkey lingering behind a fence, but the farm’s stench forced me to keep my mouth shut. Harry ran straight towards the turkey, who, in turn, ran straight towards him with a look of vengeance. I snatched up Har Bear before he got too close. After that, I decided to concentrate on the sluggish cow but he, too, was in a bad mood. Every time Harry yelled “MOO” he shot us the evil eye, and so we moved on to the sheep. While they seemed happier then the turkey and the cow, none of them felt like a visit from an 18-month-old. Luckily, Harry didn’t seem to mind. He got a kick out of the rest of the “friendly” barnyard animals.
It was during our visit to the zoo’s Discovery Trail that I hit my breaking point. The prairie dogs reminded me of rats, so I told Harry it was time to head home.
All in all, I’m glad I experienced it. Harry seemed to enjoy himself, and that’s all that really matters. Next time though, I think I’ll let my husband take him.
Addie Morfoot is a freelance journalist at Daily Variety and is finishing her MFA in creative writing at The New School. Last year, her world turned upside down when she gave birth to her son Harry. Every other Monday, she writes about juggling work, school, marriage, and motherhood in the Big Apple.