Suburban Snapshots

Could You Be Suffering From a Mom Cold?

Monday, January 12, 2015

I called in sick today. It's always tricky business when you work full-time from home, but sometimes I just don't have it in me to respond coherently to emails and sit upright during conference calls. It was a weekend of near constant battles with the first-grader; of being ignored when I asked her to do something and ignored when I asked her not to do something, of not being thanked for brunch with friends or the six-hour playdate that followed. I was exhausted and hoping to fend off whatever my husband's been hacking up like creating specimen bacteria is his job.

So naturally, I cleaned the whole house. I couldn't relax in the mess but things escalated and before I knew it I was folded over on myself behind the toilet. This is a Mom Cold. Scroll to find out if your symptoms could mean you've also suffered from a Mom Cold.

Thanks to Abigail Thompson for use of her perfect photo.


Anna at My Life and Kids

Suzanne at Toulouse & Tonic


Robyn at Hollow Tree Ventures


Andrea at The Underachiever's Guide to Being a Domestic Goddess


Ashley at It's Fitting


Paige at There's More Where That Came From


Kerry at House Talk'n


Jessica at Four Plus an Angel


Ellen at Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms (This mom was the only doctor on call at the time, no infants were harmed in the making of this graphic.)

 

 

Love in the Outside World

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

God, love is a mess. Right? You spend your teens wishing you were old enough to really understand it, (or if you're me, hoping to have a shot at it at all, truly unable to imagine a day will come when the person you like actually likes you back. I remember how implausible that seemed and how miraculous when it finally happened. I'm what John Hughes movies are made of.) your twenties having to sort through options that may or may not be or have the potential to become love, your thirties feeling like you finally have it pretty well worked out, and eternity, I think, questioning all of your assumptions.

Two weeks ago I found Anna's diary. Of course I read it, she's six, she lives in my  house, I bought it for her. Dibs. There were several pages filled with detailed drawings of her name, bubble hearts, and the name of a boy she "loves" who I'll call Kai. Amazingly enough, there's not actually a Kai in her grade so one day when she finds this entry she can't accuse me of blowing up her spot. Or maybe one day I'll read this at Anna and "Kai's" wedding, and everyone will laugh, I'll cry into my champagne and then insist she dance with me to a sentimental but upbeat tearjerker. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Prior to finding this diary I had no inkling my daughter even knew about the possibility of boys as anything other than circle-time interrupters and dodge ball villains. She only ever mentioned James because he has to take lots of "breaks" during class, and Ethan, who farts. Suddenly her whole wide heart was there in glitter ink, complete with illustrations of the most innocent and adorable variety and a note about who Kai's crush is. Anna is not Kai's crush, but she's thrilled that it's one of her best friends. You don't consider this a problem when you're six.



Anna spent an hour yesterday on Facetime with another of her best friends, but they don't actually look at each other during their conversations, instead they talk while texting the secrets they know I'll overhear. I'd share a thread with you but first of all, the sweetness might launch candy rainbow unicorns into being and secondly, it would give up this boy's real name. Let's pretend one of those reasons was "I respect my daughter's privacy" because that makes me sound like a better person.

She doesn't talk to me about Kai, and becomes visibly embarrassed when I mention him. Let me restate that she is not yet seven, and also that I am probably way under-qualified to guide her through the next many years of love stories. I'm full of joy and dread at the potential of all of this; last week we spent the morning with my friend and her 3rd grade son, and I found myself hoping as he and Anna played together in her room that she wouldn't decide to have a crush on him and weird everything up between them.

Do I have to try and talk to her about boys? I don't know how to ask without getting a too-sophisticated skeptical glance in return. Is there a pause button on this? It's just, oh there is so much time to be screwed up about love and boys, I guess I just wish she'd give herself a few more years of oblivious ease.

The love she's known until now has been simple and uncomplicated. It's been freely given and received with no entanglements, no consequences, no stipulations. The love she's beginning to enter into is loaded with all of those things plus some, and there are so many years of complicated before the spectacular. Even then, it's still a little complicated, isn't it?

My Nana Would Not Suggest Grapefruiting

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Women, friends, wives: I'm about to level with you. I'm going to tear a page from my Nana's playbook and tell you how to please your man. This does not in any way require you to purchase a grapefruit but go for yours if that's your thing (I'll want a review.)

Y'all have to stop re-loading the dishwasher and re-folding the damn laundry. Girl. Your husband thinks he's doing something pleasing to you, and when you come and un-do it like that he's left feeling incompetent and unappreciated. Now don't kiss his ass for folding a few hand towels, but hold on the criticism or wait until he's out of the house to wash everything again with the right fabric softener. I die a little inside when Steve inevitably holds up something of mine that went through the dryer, but you know what? I probably shouldn't have tossed it into the hamper like a lazy twat.

The same goes for raising your kids together. Listen, Steve does plenty of things in ways I never would. We were parented differently and it affects how we each handle Anna. Obviously I'm right in my criticism 100% of the time, but I still let him do his thing. Sometimes this means biting my tongue bloody to keep myself from contradicting him. If your child is not in peril, if your husband isn't being an enormous jerk, if the real issue is that he's not doing it the way you'd do it, take a breath. Let him handle it. If something he does really bothers you, bring it up later, directly. I find, "She was a real pill today, I just think you might have been a little harsh" works better than, "Why not send her to Guantanamo next time?" or "Were you raised in an Eastern Bloc orphanage?"



You have to let your man be a man. I once reprimanded a smart, hilarious blogger friend who "couldn't leave the house" because her husband had taken over kid duty and naturally, there was utter mutiny. I reminded her that she married an adult, that he helped father these children, and regardless of having two kids clawing at him like an open car window on a chimp safari, he was totally capable of managing them in her absence. So she got to go out and he was left to feel capable and needed. I assume she came home buzzed and got lucky.

A few weeks ago Steve and I were arguing about money or he was nagging me about how hard I hit the brakes or some crap and I said, "Listen, when you want to criticize something, think about whether it'll achieve any result other than pissing me off." We all choose parenting battles, if we didn't we'd be correcting our kids constantly and pouring vodka in their our Cheerios. This applies to marriage too—for today I'll ignore the shirts he left on the dining room table because I want to talk to him about his parenting grenades.

I realize I'm coming from a specific set of circumstances: one kid, a hard-working husband, and a sense of humor to temper my frustrations, but I've definitely done things to make Steve feel less like a million bucks and more like the sticky Canadian dime that lives at the bottom of my purse. I'm sure that sometimes I still do; marriage has a huge learning curve. I also know that you all are pretty spectacular and probably not married to assholes. Your men are capable of work and their work—like yours—deserves appreciation.

Just like kids, I believe adults try to live up to the best you see in them. Because of kids, couples sometimes have trouble just seeing each other at all. We can expect more from our spouses and show that we believe they can handle it. Then maybe, maybe the grapefruit.

How to Be Married to a Blogger

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My husband has come to tolerate a lot from me because of this blogging gig. He still doesn't love my after-hours on the laptop, my constant online communication because, "There's a really hilarious conversation happening in my blogger group right now," or the way I put lots of our personal stuff on blast, but he supports me and loves me, and he knows that somehow I find this mostly pro bono gig pretty fulfilling.

Understand that Steve is a quiet guy; it took me six months of living in the same 500 square foot apartment with him before we ever uttered two words to each other. I didn't know he had a family until we'd already made out under a halogen lamp on a filthy sofa the way you only do in your 20s. He's quiet and his tastes run toward short women in tube socks on skateboards, and yet he seems to appreciate my big frame and bigger mouth. But he didn't really sign up for the Mr. Snapshots gig and I give him a lot of credit for letting me run this production pretty much as I please (I always check with him before I share anything sensitive, like the marriage counseling stuff or the vasectomy.)

Last week when the parody I created started to appear on national television, he walked over to me, put his hands on my hips and whimpered, "Honey? Can you please not get famous?" Steve works in a blue collar job with big, bearded men who spend their days hauling, lifting and smoking, and it's understandably awkward when a guy in the garage asks, "Hey Steve, your wife gonna make any more videos?" Because that can't not sound like I run a porn empire from my guest room.

Being my husband isn't easy work, so I've got the want ad all ready in case he ever decides it's just too much.

My sincerest thanks to our blog-widow spouses who do the dishes while we struggle with perfect titles, who don't question being handed a camera and told to "shoot now and ask later," who take on bedtimes and overtime because of Twitter parties and project collaborations, and who almost always know exactly when to shut up and look pretty and when to say, "I'm proud of you, babe."


Secrets and Lice

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

"Hi Brenna. I've got Anna in here in my office and I think I've found a couple of nits in her hair. You don't have to pick her up, just check her over at home."

Anna's sailed through at least seven previous lice outbreaks—in all of her preschool rooms, in kindergarten, in camp and gymnastics. Her hair is always dirty and it's short. I'm not the type to carry hand sanitizer or to own Lysol (I know you guys are dying to come over now), I don't quietly blame other parents or kids if mine gets a cold or a stomach bug. Shit happens. When you have a kid, shit happens times infinity.

I checked her at home and found one adult louse and several nits. I texted the parents of her two best friends. I emailed her teacher. We combed, picked, Cetaphiled, combed, picked, checked, picked. We're still in the process of making sure she stays clear. My entire block is itchy. I've designated one biohazard hamper to toss her blankies and sleep stuffies. I've had to ask my first grade girl to not hug anyone and to sit still for hours while we comb and pick at her, and to quote a friend of mine, she's handling it like a Viking. Do you have any idea how much first grade girls hug? It's Woodstock all day long.



I know I share more than most and it's for a good reason—lots of people think they're alone in things, and I mean anything from picky eaters to hungover spouses. So I told Facebook about Anna's lice even knowing that several of her friends' parents would see it, even though it was the day before our Halloween party. You know what happened? I started getting messages from other parents in her class that they were also dealing with the outbreak.

I see these people every day, but no one wants to talk about lice. I respect that—no one wants to be a pariah. I also know that the scenario is completely different with older kids. But here's the other thing, parents of those still too young for Facebook: If we talk about it we can help stop it. Also, maybe that one annoying kid will stop asking for playdates.

We can't all shave our children and burn our houses to the ground, but maybe we can learn to be more open about our pestilence for the sake of other families. For the sake of all our sanity.

My Whole Neighborhood Is In This Parody

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

For months Steve and I have been trying to figure out the balance between letting Anna use the iPad and give us peace and quiet, and having her do more interactive things, like reading and giving us peace and quiet. She watches a lot of Nerdy Nummies and pop videos because her dad never makes her turn off pretty girls she loves to cook and dance, and Katy Perry's art direction is every first-grade girl's dream.

The week she decided to play "This is How We Do" on perpetual repeat, just before I snapped I realized how perfectly suited it was for a parody.

It took me three weeks and several friends to make it happen, and honestly you guys, I don't even know if it's funny. I've watched this so often and listened to the song so much that I dream in day-glo bubblegum Candy Land. SEE WHAT I MEAN?

Thanks to Allison Hart for her consult on the kitchen scene.

Monday, Party of Three

Monday, October 13, 2014

This entry is part of the Monday Mornings photo series Mommy Shorts created in partnership with Allstate, a company that is dedicated to helping families live the Good Life. You might not consider rushing kids out the door while choking down a half-frozen toaster waffle the Good Life, but I know you'll still find beauty in these morning routines.

In my twenties, I'd get out of bed at 8:00 a.m. and be out the door by 8:30. Remember those days? When you only had you to get ready and whatever, this thirty-cent frozen burrito will make a fine lunch. In my twenties I wore make-up and drank terrible office coffee. I'd take a twenty-minute train ride full of commuter germs to my office next to Fenway Park. On good days I didn't have to sidestep vomit or rats. In my twenties my built-in workout was a half-mile walk and third-floor cubicle.

Now I'm up by 6:30 most days and still rushing to get out of the house two full hours later. And I don't even bother with make-up anymore. I commute to my dining room table, but in between I've got to jockey for elbow space in my kitchen while my husband and I make lunches. I time my shower around his schedule knowing that regardless of when I climb in, my six-year-old will suddenly lose interest in the iPad and urgently need to pee. Now my built-in workout is the walk and gab-session with a pack of neighborhood moms to and from school each day. We grab our coffees and our kids and spend five blocks hurrying them up while wishing we had a few more minutes to talk before work kicks in. It's all very suburban and I wouldn't trade it for all the uncovered coughs and urban wildlife of my city commute.



I'm not the mom who's going to tell you to cherish every moment. You spend twenty precious moments each morning just begging someone to get their socks on, don't you? I don't know that I'll look back and miss yelling, "Tootsie Rolls are not breakfast!" but I know these elementary days are fleeting. This week I've noticed that Anna's too tall for almost all of her pants, and her face...there's something different. It's longer, more defined — she's a real kid. Still, I hope to look back at these photos someday and wonder when she was ever so small.

Here's a peek into my Monday. I shot these with the help of a self-timer and a spare husband (thanks Josh). Thanks to Mommy Shorts for including me in this series, it's always nice to think like a photographer again.

The morning iPad standoff. This is Steve's fancy man-robe. He's not psyched about this photo
Let's not talk about this room or the fringe
God bless her, she still believes my morning Facebook check is "work"
Preparing to pack her all-carbohydrate lunch
There is one cheese stick under all that starch
The shoe tying, it's a miracle
Her friends want to know why she's still in a "baby seat"
We were out of eggs and half and half, because Monday
The Kid Parade
The Mom Parade
Back at the office