Suburban Snapshots

Why Having a Toddler is Like Living in Poltergeist

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

If Poltergeist isn't one of your all-time family classics, well, your family is probably a little more balanced than mine. But really, who doesn't enjoy possessed trees, evil clowns, and angry, decomposing Native Americans? That's got quality time written all over it.

10. Items reappear out of place mere seconds after you've put them away.
9. In the dark, you sense an unwelcome presence in your room.
8. You frequently resist the urge to run screaming from your own home.
7. You're never really alone.
6. You can't escape the voices calling your name.
5. You could have sworn you just turned that light off.
4. The TV has more power over your child than you do.
3. You're often terrified by what you find under the bed.
2. A very small person keeps telling you what to do, and strangely, you keep listening.
1. You know that the only way you'll get any peace is a hotel room clear across town.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My husband is not a large man...wait, that sounds all wrong.

My husband is thin. He's always been thin — genetically, irreversibly thin. Over the course of our 12 years together, I've had between 20 and 40 pounds on him despite being almost 2 inches shorter.

He keeps in good shape but it seems almost impossible for him to ingest the number of calories required by his finely-tuned furnace of a body to put on weight (at last estimate, he needs more than 3200 calories per day to gain one pound a week). He's on the verge of eating nothing but pasta, peanut butter, and avocado sandwiches. Also, because God is positively hilarious, Steve has high cholesterol. So basically if he has any meat on his bones he's on Lipitor. Ba-dum-bum.

A few months ago in addition to minding the toddler during the day, he took a job that has him on his feet for 6 hours a night, constantly moving and lifting (read: burning hundreds more precious calories). Predictably, he's lost weight. He is not pleased. His doctor ordered him to gain weight, his own discomfort and loose jeans demand it. So he set about crawling the Interwebs for high-calorie recipes, low-cholesterol, fat-packed foods, even those pricey, questionable, powdered drink mixes bodybuilders use.

I don't think many of us can fathom having this problem, or even considering it a legitimate challenge. I've joked about it, feigning sympathy for his inability to cram enough food into his piehole while I track and count and exercise and avoid anything with even a passing resemblance to a Girl Scout cookie. But I'm starting to understand that being on his side of the struggle is as frustrating as it is on my side. Within every helpful thread about high-calorie diets is some trolling schmuck repeating the same tired comment about how people like Steve should be grateful to have to fight so hard to gain weight when the rest of the country struggles to eradicate the muffintop pandemic.

So now we are a household that tracks our food consumption, he groaning when he hasn't quite hit his goal, me lamenting when I go over my own. We eat the same meals though he gets twice my serving plus an added tablespoon of olive oil and a milkshake for dessert (note: not a euphemism). It’s helped us understand each other better, so when I am defeated after a gain he might think twice about offering his helpful, “Hon, you just need to exercise a little more” advice. When he complains that his jeans ride lower than a fugitive on COPS, I don’t reflexively tell him to “Go eat something.”

My husband is wiry but he’s strong, and though I’ve never in my life dealt with an inability to put on weight he’s helped me realize that just because something isn’t a typical struggle, it’s no less legitimate.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

On Monday morning I climbed out of the shower, started drying off, and squeezed milk out of my right breast. The left was equally productive.

This was troubling.

I've learned that the last place to turn when experiencing any sort of symptom is Google, so instead I posted to a group of women I trust and who — if you can believe it — I've overshared with more than I have on this blog.

You know that almost every one of those bitches practically insisted I was pregnant? Google started to seem like the preferable first opinion. (Actually it was incredibly sweet to watch the responses line up in favor of an encore for my reproductive system, so much that - SPOILER ALERT - I hated letting them down three negative pregnancy tests later.)

You wouldn't have known it by the way my hand trembled each of the three times I tried to hold that stick still and not pee up to my armpit, but I wasn't horrified by the prospect of a positive result. With Anna, I was pretty much beside myself until she emerged wet and warm and a girl.

Then I remembered that my long torso made for a mostly comfortable pregnancy, how I loved seeing her movements through the skin of my belly, how she'd latched perfectly minutes after she was born and how much I enjoyed nursing her. I felt pretty confident that I could be a mom to two, and happy that I knew either result would have turned out okay.

And that was all I needed. Now I know that my decision to have one child isn't based on the worry that I couldn't handle two. I've wondered if that was really the reason I protested, if somewhere I do want more kids but am too afraid to commit. And now I know that it's not.

I like the ease of one kid, and my body recovered pretty well from my pregnancy. I have the luxury of free time, and together we have a good amount of couple time. We're both pushing 40.

So I don't wonder whether I'm being honest with myself about being happy with just one. Now what I wonder is if I can capitalize on this milk thing until I get my c-cups back.

Facebook for Haters

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I wasn't an early adopter of Facebook. It seemed like I'd had to move so quickly from Friendster to MySpace that I just wasn't in the mood to create yet another profile, upload more photos, and invent a respectable list of remember all of my favorite books.

Eventually it was the seizure-inducing custom profile interfaces and obnoxious autoplay music people kept installing on MySpace that got me to make the switch, and now I'm comfortable admitting that Facebook is where I get most of my information.

Things aren't always copacetic between Facebook and me. Constant, arbitrary upgrades and shady privacy changes lead to days-on-end status updates about how much Facebook sucks. I've had to friend people I really didn't want to and to unfriend others under difficult circumstances. My, ahem, appreciation for Facebook has caused several household discussions and as many self-imposed restrictions.

But Facebook is probably also the reason you're reading this blog. It was entirely responsible for the explosion in my readership back in June, when this post was shared 60,000 times. It's gotten me back in touch with people I genuinely enjoy hearing from and ex-boyfriends I'm pleased to see balding and sporting beer bellies. Though I'm sure some vague high school acquaintances probably friended me to see if — as they expected — I was a lesbian all that time, a few stay in my news feed because they've grown into funny, snarky people who remind me to let go of old assumptions.

I follow restaurants and bands and bloggers. Posts from my local paper keep me informed of area meth lab busts and Oxycontin hold-ups. I keep in touch with relatives around the country and friends around the world. And when I post I try to be entertaining — I don't expect anyone to care whether or not I completed a run or ate peanut butter for lunch unless there's a good punchline.

Last week my friend Katie said, "I hate Facebook. I don't want to know about people's lives. I don't even want to see it open on the computer." She's not a sociopath or a luddite, and I totally respect that some people want nothing to do with social networking. But if you're on the fence, here are some things to consider trying before you abandon the 'book:

  1. Friend judiciously and clean house monthly
  2. If you can't unfriend someone, hide them
  3. Know your privacy and account settings
  4. "Like" your interests to get deals and info early
  5. Don't take it too seriously
It's not for everyone, but it's been a good match for an oversharing, socializing big-mouth like me. Now I have to go write the status update I'll use when I post this entry to my profile page.

My Humps

Monday, March 07, 2011

Last week I cried on the scale at Weight Watchers. Oh yeah, I was that girl.

It took me six months to lose the twenty-five pounds that got me to maintenance. During those months I had exactly three incidents of gain: once during a week of out-of-town guests that included obscene amounts of lo mein, wine, and all the fried and ice-creamy goodness of New England in summer; once was after a weeklong work trip to a boutique hotel whose buffets were rivaled only by the cavernous rain shower and high-end product in my bathroom; and once I went up .2 pounds due to polter-bloat.

Over the past five weeks I've gained weight three times. Small increments, but still. After a gain I buckle down, try to figure out where I went off the rails the previous week, exercise more, track better. And when I've done all of that and I'm being really, truly honest with myself — when I know I've watched my bites and counted every last lick, when I stand in my underwear in front of my husband and tauntingly point out how great I look — I expect to get on that goddamned scale and have the woman behind the counter flash the quietly approving smile that says, "You're down." before her mouth ever opens.

So when I walk in full of optimism, pleased with myself for diligent journaling and general getting-up-off-my-ass, and instead of the good-news smile I get the "You're gonna be displeased" furrow, well, it's kind of a bag of dicks.

Last Friday when I got that look I broke down. The hip little older woman who weighs me in each week touched my elbow and asked what I thought might be going on. I told her I didn't know, I wiped my running nose and cleared the steam of hot tears out of my sunglasses, "I almost hope I'm pregnant."

So this week is more exercise, tracking every morsel, eating more vegetables, and if I weigh in at another gain I'll be peeing on a stick in desperation.