Wednesday, May 25, 2022

During a casual Sunday conversation with our son—on an east coast evening by us, which was only midday out on the west coast by him—I inquired about what he and his seven-months-pregnant wife were doing that day. “Hold on,” he requested as he asked, “What’s that word again?” “Nesting,” he soon replied.

Having nested down to buying a year’s worth of Hallmark cards before his birth 31 years ago, I totally understood as I responded, “Ohhh yes.” Also back then there was the lineup of Broadway shows we just had to see. Not only did my husband and I purchase the wad of birthday and anniversary greetings for our family and friends in advance, we couldn’t imagine when we would ever get to Broadway again, so we took to the theater by storm.

The theater experience I remember the most from those shows in 1988 was at the Minetta Lane when I was in my third trimester. As soon as the orchestra began to play, my unborn baby started to kick and swim about wildly in my growing belly.

One of the shows we intended on seeing at that time, but ultimately passed on, was Phantom. My husband saw an ad for tickets to The Phantom of the Opera being sold through a special offer by American Express for the performance on the day after opening night. That was in late January 1988 and I was due in early March. My mother put the kibosh on that one with her concern that having seen the original film, it was so scary that a pregnant woman should not be in the audience.

That memory made me think of my mother, born in 1915, and my father, born in 1911, telling us about seeing the silent movies of their day. My mother reported that she saw every movie before her 1940 nuptials. After marriage, she conceded that she stayed home raising her four children; at one stage she had not been out to see a movie in nine years. We finally got to hear the music from the show professionally sung by my lyric tenor cousin Jonathan, in 2006. The talented opera singer/voice teacher and professor sang the Phantom show tunes at his sister’s wedding, which we attended in Malibu. According to his proud grandparents, Jonathan was the entertainment at bar/bat mitzvahs of the grandchildren of their Holocaust-survivor friends.

Getting back to the nitty-gritty of preparing for baby, with baby number two, we quickly learned that even after all the nesting, there is still “stuff” that comes up. The first thing I got, upon venturing out on my own from our dutifully nested house after our second child was born, was a speeding ticket. While my husband was at work, his parents graciously offered to watch our young toddler son and our infant daughter, just a couple of months old at the time, so that I could have an hour or so to myself.

I seized the opportunity to bring a gift we had gotten for the baby’s room to the frame shop. Feeling a tremendous surge of freedom, in celebration, I inadvertently put the pedal to the metal. Oops. I’ll never forget the humiliation of standing in front of the judge in the crowded courtroom to explain my transgression. I realized then that I’d rather stay at home with our children.

With each additional child, there were new forms of nesting to endure. For our third child, I can remember an intense spring cleaning. He was born on June 1.

Does that tremendous urge for nesting in pregnant women revert back through the generations? I pondered that thought as my husband and I recently took to the theater in any and all ways while our children were nesting in Portland.

Be it advanced sales, previews, tickets at discounted prices at the TKTS booth in New York City, partially obstructed, or rear mezzanine, we took whatever seats or, in one case, standing-room-only spots they had to offer, frigid New York weather or snow falling notwithstanding. As we ventured out to see a good bulk of the currently running hits on Broadway, aside from a chomp at local theater, I could not help but question my husband about why we were doing this—are we also nesting?

These new “grandparents to be” are quite possibly unknowingly shoring up every possible opportunity to sit and bond with our precious baby, from 3000 miles away, on Portal© by Facebook, gifted by our children. That, of course, is after our trip out west to meet our bundle of joy, aka grandchild number one. Rest assured, as we offer to babysit on each subsequent visit, I will be certain to note the local speed limits.

By Sharon Mark Cohen

Sharon Mark Cohen, MPA, is a seasoned genealogist, journalist and contributing writer at The Jewish Link.

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