Suburban Snapshots

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.