Suburban Snapshots

But Maybe We Can Still
Be Facebook Friends

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Last week's post about making new friends got me wondering why it had taken me so long to do, what exactly was the deal with me and the other moms, and how I could possibly make something hilarious of it all. And so, my list of 5 reasons we may not be carpooling to Target together:

1. If you own a stroller that I'd have to finance over 4 years and can talk at length about its features, we might have a hard time making conversation. But call me if you have a yard sale.

2. If your vehicle has a set of those "My Family" stickers on it, well, we can probably still be friends but we're definitely taking my car.

3. If you use "summer" in the verb form, chances are we don't have a ton in common. Still, I'm not averse to an invitation to the waterfront villa in which you summer-as-a-verb.

4. If I bump into you at the grocery store and your cart contains only produce and organic milk, your toddler's not face-first in a bag of Cheetos, and your hair isn't in one of those half-assed bun/ponytail hybrids, we definitely can't be friends. I just don't need that kind of pressure.

5. If you spend all your time at the playground making calls and texting, we can't be friends, because who's going to keep an eye on the kids while I Facebook?

As It Turns Out, I'm Not
a Total Pariah

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Back when Anna was pretty tiny I attempted to, failed at, and wrote about my efforts at making friends with other moms. Lots of you guys related to that post and a follow-up I wrote a bit later.

Since then I've made some friends, the kind who trust me with the secret location of their spare house key and the safekeeping of their children — fine, their goldfish, but still. I've made friends with moms who drink and curse and struggle with guilt and unruly nether regions. Suddenly, I know people in my own neighborhood and they're fun and down to earth, and they're the parents of the kids my kid's going to grow up with.

I'm writing this to give hope to those people who are struggling, because I tried to make friends and it wasn't working. You know that one friend of yours, the only single one left in your circle who's always trying to find a relationship? And all you want to do is sit him down and say, "Stop trying so hard." It's the same with finding mom friends.

The women I met just kind of showed up — one in response to something I'd posted online for sale who happened to live four doors down with a kid Anna's age, and another whose house I wandered into volunteering for a block party. You can feel almost immediatly how things will go; you know by the way you relate whether or not you'll be carpooling to Target and rummaging through each other's refrigerators, wondering why neither of you have eggs or milk but are fully stocked on stuffed olives.

It definitely helps having a kid who can talk and being past the point where your life is consumed by changing diapers and washing breast pumps. You can send your kids into another room to play dress up, then talk about grown up things like the brand new meat shop or the sexy tomato guy at the Saturday farmers' market.

It was a dry few years and I missed the easy familiarity of the friends I'd left when we moved. It was hard working from home, not being able to grab lunch with a co-worker or talk about shows on the cable channels I don't have.

Organized meet-ups didn't work out for me. If they're not working out for you, or if you don't relate to the moms at your playground or music classes, don't sweat it. You'll find your next real friend when her mail is accidentally delivered to your house, or when your kid runs off with her kid's beach toy, or when you're both standing around nonchalantly checking out that hot new tomato guy at the Saturday farmers' market.

Choosy Love

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Here's the scene: It is evening. I am lying on the couch buried beneath thirty combined pounds of dog and one laptop. I am deeply and visibly engrossed in a Facebook/Pinterest wormhole news item. Steve is in the kitchen. He stands at the fridge holding a half-gallon container of lemonade in one hand, a cup in the other. The child stands mere feet from him, and yet she exits the kitchen, walks to me, leans in — elbow pestle-ing my right nipple, face just an inch from my own — and sweetly asks, "Mama, can you please get me some lemonade?"

At this point I very calmly point out that the other household resident, who also loves and serves her, happens to be poised to respond immediately to this very need while I am mostly incapacitated by both the weight and breath of the animals, and highly engaged in — ahem — current events.

This is her M.O. lately; if both Steve and I are at home, Anna will almost always ask me to come to the bathroom, to watch her, to rub her back, read her stories, cut her chicken. If she climbs into my bed in the morning, nestling in behind me, she'll insist, "Mama! Put your face out!"

It's sweet in a way, but also frustrating. As soon as I'm in her line of sight I hear the inevitable, "Mama?" I can't walk from one room to the next without being asked to fetch something. I thought maybe she was trying to compensate for the hours she's home with me when I'm working and off-limits, but a friend who works outside the house tells me it's the same scenario at their place where her son has equal time with both parents.

It's a Mommy phase and it carries over to her treatment of Steve. Not only will she usually prefer my attention to his if we're both at home, but she'll deny him even the smallest affection. As the parent who spends more one-on-one time with her and who works the harder job with way shittier hours, I imagine it's tough to drag himself through the front door, into the bedroom where Anna and I lay watching Clifford only to be greeted with, "No Daddy! Don't look at me!" And I know the hugs she gives after I peel her off of me and insist she be nice to her daddy don't feel the same as the unsolicited ones.

Maybe it's the good cop/bad cop thing. Maybe it's the difference in the ways we show affection. Hell, maybe it's just because she's a girl or because she's three. I know it's a phase, I just wonder how long it will last.

An Open Letter to the
Hiring Manager

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Dear Human Resources Personnel and Supervisor of the Position to Which My Husband Has Applied:

I know that we're lucky my husband is currently employed. We're lucky that our house isn't in foreclosure, that our oil tank has at least a puddle in it to get us through until the next paycheck, that we can put our daughter in preschool a few days a week so that when he comes through the door as the rest of the coast is just waking up, my husband can collapse into sleep after collecting Anna's cold-shouldered rejection or squeals and kisses, depending on her mood that morning. I know we are not bad off.

Still, while he slept off his shift on the guest bed in my office, I arranged his résumé to make it clear his experience matches the requirements you seek to fulfill. I spent three hours editing his cover letter, spell-checking, and dropping your application PDF into Photoshop in order to type the information clearly and neatly. With Steve asleep behind me, covered in dogs and dead to the world, I added three references — good ones — and emailed the résumé to your office. After that I slipped out, bought ink for my printer, and printed out a hard copy to hand-deliver (I hope you appreciated the printed envelope, because being unfamiliar with the fickle nature of my printer you might not know what a colossal b-curse it is to get it properly aligned).

We both understand that with these kinds of openings there's usually a brother-in-law or friend-of who's got some of the qualifications and all of the connections to be a shoo-in. There's a guy who submitted his application for show, though his DNA and a handshake could easily land him the job. Knowing Steve as I have in all his jobs and roles, I can guarantee you this: no one you're considering will work harder than he will. No one will be as meticulous, or reliable, or as willing. Chances are other guys will be bigger, but they won't be stronger. They'll know what they're doing but they won't be smarter. They'll get the work done but they won't do it better.

All I want for my husband is a break. I want him to sleep when regular people sleep, and be able to take time off sometimes or call in sick or travel with me for work once a year — he hasn't had a non-lay-off-induced vacation since our honeymoon seven years ago. He needs this. He deserves it.

So please, when the supervisor's cousin sits down to interview, or the mayor's nephew's best friend hands you his résumé, remember there's a guy who's relatively new to town, who's got grease permanently embedded in the cracks of his hands and a rock-solid work ethic, and he's years overdue for a break.

His Wife

Update: On Thursday, September 29th, Steve had a third interview for this position and was sent home with the job.