Suburban Snapshots

To Be Honest, I Never
Liked Public Transit

Monday, May 28, 2012

When I first moved to our little town from the city, a friend of mine commented that I was "going suburban." It felt like a dig though I don't think she meant it that way. But I was worried about losing my city sensibilities, becoming lame like I imagined adults were during my Long Island youth.

It didn't help that when we moved to our development we were in the minority of residents under retirement age. We didn't have friends like we had in Boston and made social trips to my sister's on weekends. For a few years it was lonely and I resented Steve for having wanted to move in the first place.

But since Anna's been in preschool our whole community has opened up to us. Neighbors who were acquaintances now don't bother knocking, other moms I'd pass at drop-off come for lunch or dinner or long walks around the block. We hear about the happenings at Anna's future kindergarten from a friend on the PTA board, Anna's learning to ride a two-wheeler on the pink bicycle our mayor's daughter gave her, neighborhood kids wave excitedly when they spot Steve riding the trash truck, and you don't even want to know how many stories I get from Steve since he's been working for the city — he needs his own blog.

At the Saturday farmers' market before she's even finished her smoothie, Anna will spot classmates and a couple kids from the neighborhood. There are always friends at the playground and I finally feel grounded enough to start conversations with parents I've only met in the hurried morning passing over hand-offs and backpacks.

Some of the aspects of suburban life I so dreaded have definitely crept in — I probably go to too many drive-thrus and I definitely spend too much time and money at Target. But what we've gained helps temper what I miss about our last life. In our condo we knew our immediate neighbors only as "Stomping Russian Guy" and "Nice Girl Whose Dog Died." Now we're here and we're settled, we know people, we can rely on our neighbors, we feel a part of this place (and actually watch town meetings on local access TV  — Lameville, population: 2).

We've gone suburban from my practical station wagon to our shed full of yard equipment. We're happy, Anna is thriving, and the city is just a visit away. I can live with that.

I Googled "Episiotomy"
for this Post. NEVER DO THAT.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

So, you know when you're pregnant and you've pretty much just stopped shaking and put down that tiny pee stick, and you've worked up the courage to start telling people, and then like the third person you tell congratulates you and immediately launches into the story about how she/her sister/her cousin's best friend's aunt had this unimaginably painful and traumatic labor and delivery, has an episiotomy scar that starts at her shoulders and ends at her chin, and just barely got out alive?

Why the eff to people DO that?

I know things don't always go as planned, but sometimes you know what a first-time mom needs? She needs flowers and rainbows blown up her ass about labor and delivery. She needs to know that the worst-case scenario rarely happens. She needs to know that even the sucky parts end pretty quickly. She needs a little reassurance, is all.

Photo taken 20 minutes before Anna arrived. Thank you, Modern Medicine!

This is a job for you guys. A friend of mine (and I'm sure you know plenty of expectant moms) is due this summer and is pretty anxious about the whole, beautiful, messy process of giving birth. So whether you're more comfortable emailing me or posting in the comments below, let's pull together a collection of happy birth stories, the ones where in the soft glow of your epidural, everyone in the room looked like George Clooney. The ones where you had your baby in four hours and only needed one stitch, the ones where your labor went on for twenty-five hours, but you surprised yourself with your own strength, where you were so focused on the moment you didn't have time to worry about the pain, or where having to toss out your birth plan all together turned out to be the best decision after all.

Please help me counteract the unsolicited horror stories of oversharing acquaintances with a little labor goodness. If you choose to email and want to remain anonymous, let me know in your note. And thank you.

It Was Either This or a
Macaroni Necklace

Saturday, May 12, 2012

You can't ever buy your mom a big enough Mother's Day present. Every day there's something you do that you learned from her; before kids maybe it was the way you organized your dresser or how you drove, after kids you realize that almost every part of parenting — the stuff you keep and what you swear you'll never do — comes from your own parents. These moments are where you find your mom, these are the ways you thank her.

So we go about our day hearing our mothers' words falling from our lips a hundred times. She's there when I talk impatiently to Anna through clenched teeth, and when I pinch her rear-end just because it's within reach. Mom's around when I'm singing in the car and Anna tells me to be quiet. If I lose sight of Anna in a shop aisle, I remember my mom's story about being so sick and pregnant with my sister she sent me into a drug store alone when I was just four.

I think of Mom when I cut an X across Anna's PBJ and call it a butterfly, or show her how to press criss-crosses into peanut butter cookies. I don't let Anna taste my meatballs before they're cooked, when all the spices and meat smell so fresh and inviting, but Mom is there when Anna helps me shape them with her little hands. When I let her stay home from preschool because she looked at me the right way when she asked, I remember all the times Mom and I would go to Friendly's while the rest of my eighth-grade history class sat through Mr. Anderson's tedious lessons.

My mom's maybe always meant yes, and Anna is quickly learning that my policy is much the same (and that Grandma's hasn't changed). Mom's in dinnertime hugs and stories past bedtime, she's in grocery store treats and quarters for the carousel. Mom is in every minute of my day.

For every story my sisters and I have about being forgotten at the library, locked out of the house, chased with a wooden spoon or sent on field trips lunchless, there are a hundred more about how our mom taught us how to show love, how to be women and mothers. We don't tell those stories because we live them. That's where Mom is, that's our sincerest gratitude.

The idea for this post was sparked by Mommy Shorts' Mom is in the Little Things. Thank you, Ilana.

What a Girl Wants

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

My Husband, the Garbage Man

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Partly because he lets me give him so much shit for the sake of amusing you people, and mostly because I sincerely mean it, I often tell Steve how proud I am of him for being willing to work so hard for this family. Though we both hold college degrees (equally as valuable in the job market -- his in Art History and mine in Literature, CHA-CHING!) Steve isn't a desk guy, so the jobs he holds are always trades involving lots of moving around and manual labor. The pay's decent, but considering what I make to maintain a website and cultivate a sizable dent in my office chair, and what he earns lifting twice his weight or hanging off the back of a garbage truck, it hardly seems fair.

Steve will get up at whatever hour he needs to be at work and come home whenever they say he's finished, and lift, drive, move, or tolerate anything in those in-between hours that makes him feel useful and puts money in the bank. He's an official employee of our city now, picking up decaying yard waste in the rain, taking unmentionable money shots to the face from the trash compactor and keeping downtown looking quaint, and he rarely complains (making me feel like kind of a dick for being all, "Oh man honey, I had SO many meetings today and...what's that in your beard?")

Sometimes before school, Anna and I use my stalking GPS app to go Daddy hunting. She's giddy when she spots one of the big, yellow trucks and sees Steve darting back and forth across the street emptying pails or riding the platform. We'll watch him for a few minutes -- today it was in miserable, drizzling rain -- before he says a quick hello and we're off to school.

He'll often see neighborhood kids and I hear from friends how they think it's the coolest thing that "Anna's dad gets to be the garbage man." Anna thinks it's cool too, but I wonder if the day will come when she's embarrassed by her dad's work. When she's thirteen, will she wish he wore a suit instead of a reflective city uniform? I imagine it's inevitable, as probably when she's thirteen everything we do will constitute part of our plot to ruin her entire life, OMG! I guess when it happens it's just another one of those phases you roll with until it passes.

This is where those of you with teenagers tell me how it's not actually as heartbreaking as it seems having your kid be mortified by your very existence, though I remember my sister once telling our mother that she was embarrassed by an outfit Mom planned to wear to teacher conferences and I think my mom cried for like a week. Maybe what I really need is a list of retorts along the lines of, "You can thank your dad's 'totally embarrassing job' for that new iPad50 you just got for class, missy!" Got any?