Suburban Snapshots

Advice for New Moms I May
be Unqualified to Dispense

Thursday, January 24, 2013

When we came home from our soft cocoon of the hospital with brand-new Anna, I was terrified. Not of the usual stuff - I knew she'd be able to breathe all night on her own, that she was eating, I was okay with the knowledge that I'd surely fuck something up - but I kept worrying that I might suddenly stop loving her. Because I'm normal.

This is to say that when I dispense advice it's not from some platform of how cool, calm and collected I was in the months after she was born, but to let you know that I too was as sticky and messy as the tarry diapers she produced at such an alarming rate.

I don't have a lot of friends who are still in their baby-having years. I mean sure, they could biologically go on having babies but mostly they've moved onto the big bliss of getting ever closer to the end of childcare expenses. Still I have a few, and for those who are expecting their blessed bundles, here are some things I found personally helpful and that your mother-in-law might completely disagree with.

1. Please take yourself and/or your baby out of the house. If you have a healthy, full-term baby, the outside is a great place to be. I know, it can be scary taking that perfectly pure little body into the big, wide world, but it's scarier being holed up in one room watching reality shows about porcupine hunters, staring at a sleeping or crying infant and waiting for something to happen.

2. Yes! You can still shower! This is why God invented bouncy seats and transparent shower curtains. It might be a short shower, maybe the water won't even have time to warm up, but it's really okay if your wee one cries a little while you rinse those last soap bubbles out of your hair.

3. Yes! You can still go out to eat! You might be tired as hell, and you might have to plan it around the hour your baby isn't colicky, but these are the halcyon days when your child is totally immobile.

4. Using a bottle doesn't mean you love your baby less. It might mean your tits hurt, or you don't want to nurse in front of the cable guy, or that you'd like your partner to get their ass up at 3 a.m. for a change.

5. Pay attention, because this is important: YOU DO KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING. There's enough information telling you how to do it better, how not to do it, how to do it like Gwyneth (this one involves kale I think) but no one else is raising your baby.

Then again you may want to ignore all of this - I totally let my kid nap in her Boppy.

Everybody Has a Story

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I was having coffee with a friend the other morning and while I checked work emails and Facebook updates, she was trying to come up with something to say about herself at an upcoming staff meeting.

"This would be so easy for you — you're a photographer, you have the blog, you're so funny. I have nothing interesting to tell them."

This friend of mine has traveled to India, she's related by marriage to someone in a band I love, she's been in bar fights, has two great kids, and never has a single dish in her goddamned sink, ever. And I still can't hate her.

So sitting there I listed off all the stuff that I felt was interesting about her, and each time she had a reason why it wouldn't work. It made me think of our own perspectives and how we see ourselves — I love my life, my family, my work - but I don't find myself particularly interesting. I'm kind of just, regular, you know?

Sure, I can hold a conversation about lots of things, but compared to some of my friends my knowledge  is superficial at best. I know about different parts of the world, but I know more people who've gone to live in other parts of the world. I'm a homebody who hates flying and tiny hotel shampoos I have too much hair for. I'm funny, but I'm not particularly intellectual. I can hit a baseball surprisingly well but I'm not someone you'd call athletic.

This isn't an after school special about the girl with no self-esteem; I really do like myself. I appreciate my ability to make people feel comfortable and loved. I am proud every day that I make someone laugh. I'm doing a pretty good job raising a future member of society, and though I haven't been perfect or close, I am a damn fine wife.

If I were put on the spot to rattle off one interesting fact about myself, what would I say? Maybe that my husband and I are both left-handed, that all but one of my grandparents are still living, that my eyesight is 20/400, or that the only part of my Long Island accent I can't shake is the way I say "mirror". I guess it depends on the audience.

So tell me, what would you say? I know you're interesting. Everyone's got a story.

Navigating Your
Child-Centered Social Life

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Anna's social circle has been growing year by year. In December alone we attended 5 birthday parties and yes I once took cake right out of some kid's mouth because my own daughter didn't save me any pizza.

The side effect of acting as your kid's entourage is mingling with other parents, and sometimes all you have in common is parenthood. I've created some helpful guidelines for navigating these social engagements.

1. Until we've gone out for drinks together, it's perfectly acceptable that we refer to each other using the formula [Kid's Name] + [Mom or Dad], know what I mean, Isabella's Mom?

2. If I bring a gift to a party in a playspace that smells like a locker room where I am required to remove my shoes and am fed greasy pizza, I anticipate a thank-you note.

3. If I invite you to a party in a playspace that smells like a locker room and require you to eat greasy pizza that I have to order and pay for in advance, I expect a timely RSVP.

4. When re-gifting shopping for the present I'll bring to your kid's birthday party, I always think, "Would I want this in my house?" Please exercise the same judgement or I will fill your gas tank with Moon Sand.

5. I will always treat, "Should I bring wine?" as a rhetorical question.

6. I am willing and happy to help you out in a childcare pinch, but know that you've just opened a tab.

7. If your child is super sensitive, please don't expect other parents to force apologies at every meltdown, then everyone will get a complex and no one can afford all that therapy.

8. If we've exchanged niceties at drop-off for 3+ years, I expect you to hold the door open for me. I may not always brush my hair but I promise I'm not a vagrant trespassing for the free applesauce.

9. When organizing get-togethers or outings, remember that dads are parents too and not penis-wielding creepers who tag along with the moms.

10. Please clearly label your nannies. I feel better when it's a 19-year-old au pair making me feel fat and matronly and not a peer.

Disagree? See something I missed? Have your own list of guidelines? Leave them in the comments.