When Smartmom and Hepcat found out they were pregnant with Teen Spirit in July, 1990, they were terrified.
“We can barely take care of ourselves,” Smartmom remembers saying. “How are we going to take care of a little baby?”
Smartmom and Hepcat were sitting on the futon couch in the East Village co-op they shared. She started to cry, Hepcat looked very pale. Very.
But Smartmom knew she wanted a baby. And so did Hepcat. It was just going to take some getting used to.
Until then their lives had been so simple. They worked; they spent time with friends. They went to Alphabet City bars and restaurants; went out to clubs to hear bands, galleries to see art, movie theaters to see movies.
Now their life was getting complicated and grown up. And at that moment of reckoning on the futon couch, they weren’t sure they were up for the task — they weren’t sure they were ready to let go of their carefree married life.
Truthfully, it didn’t take long to adjust. The pregnancy took over their lives and so did Smartmom’s morning sickness, which would hit like clockwork at 6 pm every night that first trimester and end just as punctually around at midnight.
She’d be starving and they’d go to Florent on Gansevoort Street and share an order of Steak Frites and Evelyn’s Goat Cheese Salad.
Food never tasted so good. The restaurant was always packed with arty Lower Manhattan types and drag queens. Music blaring, conversations swirling, it was a fun place to be pregnant at midnight just months before becoming parents.
“We won’t be doing stuff like this once the baby comes,” Smartmom remembers saying.
The day after Teen Spirit was born Smartmom had that terrified feeling again.
“What do we do now?” she remembers saying to Hepcat as they sat alone in the hospital room. All their family members and friends had left after a day of celebration, of oohing and ahhing, of gifts and joy.
There are pictures of them from that night. Smartmom in a nightgown, her belly still swollen from pregnancy. Hepcat looking so boyish and handsome.
They really were young and the rest of their lives had just begun.
“He snores,” Hepcat said staring lovingly at Baby Teen Spirit’s face as he slept in the plastic bassinet.
“And loudly,” he added.
Smartmom listened. He was right. Their baby was snoring with every inch of his being. It was unbearably cute and poignant and real.
Just as Smartmom’s fear of pregnancy abated, so did Smartmom fear of motherhood as the daily details of life with Baby Teen Spirit took over.
Within days, it was like they’d been parents forever. Actually, it took Hepcat less time to adjust.
“I was raised on a farm,” he used to say. “I know all about baby cows. What’s so different about humans?”
Indeed, Hepcat’s experience with dairy cows also helped them deal with the challenges of lactation. He was great partner those first months of Teen Spirit’s life, and Smartmom appreciated his sense of adventure and fearlessness when it came to Baby Teen Spirit. For instance, he insisted on bathing Teen Spirit not in one of those small plastic baby tubs, but in a real porcelain bathtub holding him in one hand and gliding him from one end of the tub to the other on his back.
Teen Spirit was so little he could fit on Hepcat’s hand…
Smartmom stops typing long enough to wonder why she is focusing on that period of their lives all those years ago: Before Brooklyn. Before the Oh So Feisty One. Before any of them were the people they have now become.
For Buddha’s sake, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why she is waxing nostalgic.
It’s the transition, stupid.
Clearly, Smartmom is feeling much more emotional about Teen Spirit’s leaving for college than she ever imagined she would.
And she’s terrified.
“We’re too young to have a kid in college,” she says to Hepcat who is in the next room staring at his computer. “How are we going to adjust to life without him?”
There is no answer.
“Did you hear me?”
“Do you feel like we’re too young to have a kid in college,” she asks again realizing how silly this sounds.
“Not really,” he replies after a long silence and then goes back to whatever it is that he’s doing.
Smartmom decides not to pursue it. They’re both going to deal with this in their own way. And just like she managed to adjust to all those other life changes, she’s going to do it again.
She doesn’t have much choice does she?
Join Smartmom (and Spike Lee and Lemon Anderson) at the Fifth Annual Brooklyn Blogfest at the Brooklyn Lyceum [227 Fourth Ave. at President Street in Park Slope, (718) 857-4816] on June 8 at 7 pm. Visit www.Brooklynblogfest.com for info.