Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Eyes of a Toddler

The eyes. Windows to the soul. They are revealers of secrets, and divulgers of desires. Absorbers of beauty, expellers of truth. But so much more. The eyes of toddlers are so. much. more.

It is the look in her eyes that warns you seconds before she intentionally tips over a bowl of soup. A beautiful gaze that signals: "cancel all phone calls and trips to the bathroom for the next 38 minutes, I will be screaming maniacally." With a bat of the lashes, you know. You just know that accidentally breaking her Magnatiles tower was an act of war, and you will either spend the rest of the afternoon bowing to her wishes or you will have no rest of the afternoon. With one glance you're informed that she will not be letting go of your shirt, whether you're flashing the entire congregation or not.
 

It is those same eyes that automatically switch from panic to relief as she seeks you out in a crowded room. In them you see gratitude for building the Magnatiles tower with her inside, forgiveness for handling the soup situation with less patience (and more volume) than necessary, and some remaining maniac as she winds down from the tantrum. Pure sincerity as she asks you for just one more cookie. And that same look as she requests another one. With a hint of mischief in her eyes, she selects the longest book for bedtime reading, with a look of boundless excitement she hides in the usual hiding spot. It is not just with powerlessness that she begs you to avoid entering her room (for more time to smear diaper cream everywhere, you suspect); it is also with deep comfort. Pure, simple love, as she prepares you for her strongest bedtime hug. And determination, hours later, as those gorgeous eyes of your sweet child remain open, in bed, at midnight.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Apology To My Infant

Little munchkin: I am compelled to apologize for certain facts of your young life.  None of these incidents are, individually, overwhelmingly negative, and most occur simply by virtue of your birth order. However, it will be years before you reap the benefits of being second born, and in the meantime I have some ‘splaining to do.

First, I'm sorry for sometimes emphasizing developmental milestones you have not yet reached. "Well the baby doesn't even walk yet! Of course she doesn't have to eat tomatoes." You see, it can be a useful tool in getting your sibling less hungry or less nude. Just know that by no means are you expected to walk or sing or eat soup by one month old.  People double your age can't even do so.  And I assure you that what sounds like an insult is always a last resort attempt to protect your face. "Let's play in a different room, the baby can't even catch a ball."

In addition, I didn't intend to suggest to your sister that your every movement results in poop, but that's what I have inadvertently accomplished. Sometimes it's for your own safety- "don't touch her, she just pooped!" Sometimes it's an explanation. "I'll play with you as soon as I clean the baby's poop." It can be an excuse - "Not sure what that smell is. I guess the baby pooped" - or a lazy response to your sister's curiosity - "that face she's making? Must be pooping." We should have focused on your sweet and contagious smile, but this poop thing took over.  My bad.

I must apologize for our choice of entertainment too, as I have recently realized how depressing 90% of Russian kids songs are. Your father and I are experiencing a cultural awakening of sorts, which boils down to this: Soviet era poems, nursery rhymes, and songs from children’s cartoons and movies. Upon researching the song lyrics and reading them at the pace of a 6 year old, it turns out they are all unbearably nostalgic and almost exclusively about lost youth.   Upbeat tunes that should sing of frolicking in sunny fields instead describe the rapid floating away of time.  Yesterday? Gone.  Seriously, little child, it's gone forever but hey, the best is yet to come.  (A reference, I assume, to jobs, bills, and car repairs).  It seems that a Soviet childhood is incomplete without awareness of the simultaneous loss of childhood.   The other 10% of songs bear the distinct aftertaste of communism ("a good friend doesn't ask too many questions").  Please accept the Russian language that I hope you will retain as an apology for this poorly timed reminder to carpe diem and avoid the KGB.  And in that vein - you might have a Russian accent as you enter preschool. It’ll fade, but will be hilarious while it lasts.

You may have expected to be the only one waking throughout the night, and for your sleep, at least at night, to be otherwise undisturbed. I'm sorry that's not true in real life. Your toddler kin has begun waking for water (which she requests extraordinarily loudly and suddenly) or for a good old fashioned 2 a.m. tantrum. When that happens, I can almost see you rolling your eyes. "For all the time you spent putting me to sleep, one would think you'd try harder to keep me asleep. It's fine, I'll just nurse all night." You may have some choice words for your sister as well. Do I take responsibility for this situation? Yes. But know that I'm not thrilled about it either.

"Honey, is the baby sleeping?" "Nope"
Finally, no apology to you would be complete without explaining why I allow your sister to "help with the baby." They say it encourages bonding, decreases resentment. In fact, there has been a lower incidence of toddler-on-infant violence at our residence when our big girl puts on the baby's socks (minus a toe or two), unzips her onesie, or carries her to the car. Kidding about that last one, but you know who to thank when you two become best friends. Can we agree it was worth the occasional cold toe or rough unswaddling? I'll ask again later. Way later.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

My Maternity Leave "Vacation"

There are few women at work with kids, particularly in the junior ranks, and both my male and female peers seem to have a wholly inaccurate (although wildly appealing) idea of what maternity leave entails. The brunches and happy hours, movies, late mornings, leisurely coffee dates, spa afternoons...surely this describes a mother's luxurious 3 months off. Maybe with an occasional newborn diaper change, and toddler feeding. The below, a somewhat more accurate account, is something to keep in mind for those skeptical of the maternity leave vacation...those enjoying relatively unfettered access to sleep, showers, and socializing.

Food: In the mornings, you tend to eat whatever your toddler left on her plate. If chef mom made her specialty, you will be enjoying soggy cereal half stuck to the plate by the time you get there. Sometimes you make oatmeal, and suffer the tantrum that results when you take a spoonful from her after she gave you permission but then changed her mind.   Other times, when you are overdue for a trip to the store, you feed your child cherry tomatoes and crackers, or cheese and a banana, or bread and sour cream. On those days, you and your toddler eat together. This quality time may or may not outweigh your feelings of guilt over a meal that looks like Christmas during wartime.

One of you will inevitably be famished as lunch time comes and goes. You have either been sneaking junk all afternoon and will be too full to even think about food (although it's for someone else...a small child, in fact). Or you get so caught up in the two hour ordeal of packing for the park, that you responsibly feed your child while neglecting to eat yourself. By the time you get home, you can't shovel food in fast enough. As you put a cookie between two pickle slices, you hope this nursing-induced ravenous appetite subsides by the time you return to work so you don't have to look like an animal there too.

Entertainment: You must occupy your toddler while keeping your infant alive. These tasks are mutually exclusive during the beautiful moments when your toddler floods the baby with Lenny-style squeezing, suffocating love, when she takes out her frustration at being told she's too rough by attacking the baby's head, or when she explores how far an ankle, wrist or finger can twist. You say things like "stop licking your sister's head," and come up with a different, self serving explanation each time you're asked why the baby has to sleep again ("because you didn't clean up your toys").

To keep the baby minimally deformed, you go to the park. With 40 diaper bags strapped to your bus of a double stroller, you realize you didn't bring your 2.5 year old's water bottle. Maybe you can keep her dehydration at bay by offering her a pack of diapers or whatever other crap you brought with you.

You let your kid go to the sand box, and her friends' caretakers roll their eyes at you for being too permissive because, it seems, there is no greater annoyance than shaking dry sand off a child. You then keep your daughter away from the sprinklers (because you also forgot a change of clothes), and are presumed to be a childhood-robbing monster by others. Having impressed everyone there, you feel only moderate shame when your kid follows around a mom dispensing food to her kids, drooling and staring at them with her green eyes, silently conveying starvation. As you drag your child away, you don't bother telling the mom that 15 of your bags are filled with snacks.

Comfort: Our pediatrician instructed that the baby should wear one layer more than we are wearing, but then clarified - don't go by mom, her hormones are crazy now. Joke's on you funny guy, profusely sweating is how I lose weight.

Luckily, there are other treats in the post partum experience. Whether you gave birth naturally or by c-section, you may also be popping painkillers while either learning to sit again, or waiting for your organs to shuffle back into place and avoiding the sight of your stomach.

Finally out of the hospital gown and disposable underwear, you peer into your closet, eager to return to your regular wardrobe. You quickly learn that not being pregnant and not needing pregnancy clothes aren't the same, but clothes don't really matter when you spend 80% of your day semi-topless and 20% being spit up on. In public, you accessorize your half toplessness with a draped sheet and baby legs dangling on the side. This is a cue for grandfatherly men to sit near you and compliment your newborn.

Leisure: OMG SO MUCH LEISURE. Seriously, all you do is take 1-3 hour naps all night, with a quick hour long nursing-burping-diaper change in between. A solid two naps later, your toddler is up for PLAY TIME! MORE RELAXATION.

Then, when the baby is sleeping and your toddler is occupied playing with knives or whatever, you sneak to the computer to place an order on Amazon. Or wash dishes. Or laundry. Or pick up meatballs from the living room carpet. And you wonder what you would be doing at work now, what your friends are doing, as you bump into them on Facebook.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Lady In The Street And A Mom In The Office


  • I have Bandaids in my wallet and stray toddler socks in my purse.  It’s hard being professional and ladylike when old fruit pouches fall out of your purse as you’re reaching for your legal memo.  The double burden of women.
  • If I call the nanny and don’t hear back within 5 minutes, my imagination runs wild and nothing in the office matters.  I will not respond to emails, will not continue my work, and will not pick up my office phone.  I will eat chips, harass my husband, and redial my house until I hear that everything’s fine and that [latest horrible thing I heard/read on the mainstream/weird news] did not happen.  More than the absentmindedness, the half zipped dresses and the cell phones in the fridge, this ability to conjure up worst case scenarios and fully convince yourself of their likelihood (as in, 100% likelihood) until the very moment that the grave injury turns out to be a splinter and the missed phone call turns out to be a missed phone call, is what defines “mommy brain.”
  • I wear flats and change into heels for meetings.  I get tired just thinking about the ladies who wear heels all day long and who also attend after-work happy hours.  When I see them in the elevator, I resolve to wear makeup and contacts more often…or at least shower.
  • My phone has no storage left because of all the baby pictures on it from only about 10 different occasions, each with endless variations of the same photo that I can’t get myself to delete because it seems wrong.  When my phone will no longer place calls because of lack of storage, I hesitantly delete the indecipherable blurry pictures of what is probably the floor.
  • I have learned to keep a nice looking outfit or two in the office for the inevitable days that I come in wearing an old t-shirt under my suit jacket, or have failed to coordinate colors getting dressed in the dark.  I learned the hard way, frantically running to a nearby store for a plain black dress after an email giving 30 minutes notice before a big meeting.  I didn’t want to wear the baggy skirt that I thought was something else (something not embarrassing) when I put it on.  Why do I have obese grandmother clothes in my closet?  A question for another day.
  • I make lists of recipes, notes for the nanny (i.e., passive aggressive instructions), and miscellaneous tasks on unsaved documents at work.  I never remember to close them before calling the help desk, and cringe when they remote in to my computer and get a solid glimpse of my legal work.  (“Buy toddler underwear, figure out what size” “Peel carrots” “For nanny: don’t share a fork with my kid; do get all food off washed dishes, I’ll take over 90%” “stop being a B to nannies” “buy summer shoes, measure her feet” “why do you not know any sizes”).
  • I gauge the productivity of my day in terms of both accomplishments in the office, and time spent with my daughter.  Cuddle time only counts for one of those.  Reading a lot may work for either, depending on content.  Productivity is off the charts when there is more food in the fridge than on the floor (breakfast ice cream facilitates my growth, but I guess that’s not toddler-appropriate growth), and when the entire family looks presentable for a reasonable amount of time (intentionally vague standard).
  • I find time to summarize how my life differs from almost all the female associates in my office, but have not completed my legal research or resolved my child's shoelessness (and, if you were reading carefully, underwearlessness -- but that's an awkward and uncomfortable word ... and state of being).

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Are they wiser, or are we more progressive

The judgmental honesty of past decades has almost fully given way to political correctedness, but old ladies still got it (and at the supermarket, they flaunt it).


We were at Trader Joe's a little while ago, with our daughter in the shopping cart seat.  This made it easier for her to attract the attention of strangers - much to her delight, even when she feigned shyness.  An older lady, probably in her 70s, came up to us, gushing.  "Oh my, those cheeks.  She's adorable."  Then the inevitable Q&A session of the not too-busy-for-everything elders.  "How old is she" followed by "does she talk yet" and then a nod so thick with reserved judgment I almost apologized.

She wasn't old-school enough to lecture me, but was not eager to express how "ok" it was, how babies progress differently, that hearing two langauges temporarily slows speech development, or that her own kids did not speak until high school.  I would expect this latter response from a mom of my generation, and it wouldn't do much more for me than this lady's blatant smirk.  I appreciated her almost-direct honesty, however unsolicited, and if she had proceeded to teach me the way they forced langauge on kids when she was parenting, I might have taken some mental notes before rolling my eyes and marvelling at how much more enlightened we are these days.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

"But I'm an angel" she says with her eyes as she wakes up, heels still lodged in daddy's ribs

This is "Lia."  That's not her name but that's what she will sweetly answer if asked.

She maximizes her weight and limbs to control the central 80% of our bed; blankets may not touch her. She articulates her demands by finger pointing, two words, or one word hidden in a gibberish sentence. She will not repeat herself and you have three guesses.

She is a certified Master of the I-Phone, and her nemesis is the lock screen. Her other nemesis? Slivers of street lamp light reflected on the walls. Who invites them in at night, and why don't they move? They are simultaneously dull and disruptive, the worst kind of guests.

The boss enjoys extorting sweets from her grandparents, sleeping in 2-3 hour stretches, and taking all the clothes out of her dresser. Her dislikes are eating in any place meant for eating, bedtimes before midnight, dogs that are sensitive about their eyes, and spoons. She firmly believes that if crayons were meant only for paper, they wouldn't work so well everywhere else.

Her snacks must, I repeat must, come in two's. ("A lot" is also acceptable. "Handful" is ok if there are a lot of them).

Violate any of the aforementioned rules, and she will walk away screaming. Or she may lay on the floor, sullenly, quietly, and stare past you. Either way, you will understand that you have ruined her life. Of course, you can fully redeem yourself by offering snacks, the currency of toddlerhood. Just know that this is no time for hugs, which are earned and not stolen in a flustered attempt to fix what you just broke.

Hugs, incidentally, are her way of saying: "parenting...you haven't failed yet." While the world stops for you during those fleeting, unbearably sweet moments, she will find a new- albeit mischievous and most likely messy- way to express her love. But no worries, you'll have plenty of time to clean up as soon as you arrange for a cartoon. Please. Just one. (At a time).


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Attachment Parenting (AP): My 2013 Top 5 List

I give myself some poetic license to make fun of attachment parenting crunchy moms because, to the extent reasonable and feasible, I consider myself a member and, at all other times, a groupie and wannabe.  So I'm going to state the obvious, what's on most of our parents' minds. Y'all is crazy.

My observations and experiences in the world of AP are as follows:

1.  We cosleep and night nurse. I wake up to an adorable smiling baby and it melts my heart. Which needs thawing by the time morning rolls around. My daughter prefers to sleep perpendicularly between my husband and me.  This is most efficient, permitting her to kick his face (I didn't believe it until I saw it.  80% sure it's deliberate) while simultaneously manhandling me under the guise of nursing.  With both tasks completed, she can go back to sleep just as we fully awaken.
I eventually found that during slow periods at work, taking a 20 min. nap in the room I used to pump in helps revive me.  My queen size bed at home has nothing on that pleather two-seater couch in a room with no windows and under fluorescent lights, and I relish those rare moments of glorious sleep punctuated by the startling, high pitched Blackberry dings of incoming emails.  Those are some of the beautiful and fleeting moments of parenting.

2.  I have been describing food wrong all my life.  A dish is edible based on the *lack* of ingredients.  Your apples and blueberries fruit salad is of interest to others if, and only if, it is properly identified as #glutenfree #refinedsugarfree #vegetarian #dairyfree #organic #nongmo #intact #novax #raw.  Cut up apples with blueberries does qualify as a recipe, and the fact that it really never includes gluten, white sugar, or foreskin is besides the point.

3.  Family drama consists of keeping your extended family's processed foods out of your children's guts, ignoring criticism of your weird sleeping arrangements and refusal to use mainstream baby products, and passionately arguing against punishment and cry it out.  (Although isn't CIO just punishment for an infant).  There's a solid exchange of links to "studies" going on during the work week.

4.  Breastfeeding.  Oh my goodness, breastfeeding.  I do it, I extended do it, and I find it incredibly important.  I even stick breast milk in every baby orifice at the first hint of illness.  However, the movement to normalize nursing has resulted in hyper-publicizing it.  Peeing, brushing your teeth, and eating vegetables are also normal and healthy parts of mothering and of life, but I don't see many pictures of Gisele doing those things.

My husband and I once experimented with those tasteful, frame-able nursing pictures.  They came out looking more "hobo flashing baby with pale boobs" than "artsy hottie nourishing child."  There was a level of over-exposure that even the most open-minded mama would prefer not to see.  That camera eventually made its way to Europe, during my first visit to meet my husband's parents.  One cozy evening we gathered around the computer to view a slideshow of the hundreds of pictures we took of our baby, forgetting that those nursing gems were on there.  Suffice it to say that I will not be taking nursing pictures in the near future.  That evening, the stern father in law I just met (and wasn't sure whether to awkwardly hug or warmly hand-shake), my formal mother in law, my husband, and I stood uncomfortably in sudden silence (no more oohing and ahhing at the cute baby) as each picture danced its way across the screen and lingered for what felt like hours.

5.  It is expected that you follow every like-minded blog and Facebook group, comment with supportive advice to other mamas (where have all the papas gone?), and post questions that a quick Google search would answer.  If you're not a stay at home mom, you are likely to miss out on many of these posts and discussions, but, not judging or anything, where is the whole "attachment" part of attachment parenting if you're at work all day.

There you have it guys, I'm strapping on my Beco and off to the co-op.  (Just kidding, I'm at work, but maybe this weekend).

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Oh those modern parents...(they're not doing it all wrong)

This morning, I came across an article titled “This Young Mother Has Something Serious To Say.  You Might Not Like It, But You’ll Probably Love it” (at http://www.viralnova.com/this-young-mother-is-sick-of-how-kids-are-being-raised-heres-her-controversial-blog-post/, about and including the original blog post by Stephanie).  I didn’t love it.  I may not be exactly the “modern parent” that Stephanie is referencing, but I can identify the trends she complains about, many of which I agree with and therefore follow, and must respectfully disagree.  That said, I think this argument will ultimately boil down, as many do, to the need for moderation.

First, it is a blatant oversimplification to equate every kid’s childhood experience with his/her future expectations as an adult.  By immediately responding to my child’s cries for help or attention, she will not grow up to expect her professors or employers to do the same for her, any more than giving her a treat after a stressful doctor visit will condition her to expect a raise after completing a difficult work assignment.  She will not be blind to the realities of the world simply because I chose to buy her another ice cream cone when her first one dropped instead of teaching a 2 year old some deep life lesson about loss and materialism.


By validating her emotions and tending to her needs – even when silly, repetitive, or expressed in the form of a tantrum (and by “tending” I don’t mean “giving in to”) – I seek to foster her confidence and to instill in her, from a young age, the understanding that her desires are not meaningless, her opinions are valued, and her needs are important.  At least to her parents.  And while she will learn to rely on her parents, she will not expect waiters to give in to her every whim.  Or teachers, or bosses.  If I let her reach her tiny (usually sticky) palms into my food and retrieve whatever she wants, she will not think this is acceptable with other people.  But if she tries to do this with others, she will be rejected, and it will be ok.  She has no expectation of blind, loving, unconditional acquiescence from strangers, and will therefore take such rejection in stride.  For this same reason (and lesson), I also won’t reprimand her for trying.  She will learn it on her own.  Two years old is the time for lessons as these, not for Ms. Manners lectures (although, that adult’s reaction will naturally help develop her awareness of social norms).

Is it possible that she will become too dependent on her parents?  Maybe, and we would address it when she’s old and confident enough to understand that she must learn to stand on her own two feet.  She will internalize that lesson logically, reasonably – no longer emotionally.  It will be about independence, not abandonment, and I will be assured that we have encouraged her, supported her, and raised her into a strong woman who knows what she wants, knows how to pursue it and, if things don’t go her way, knows how to move on.

I believe there is a proper age for teaching about feelings and emotions, for instilling confidence and a sense of self-importance.  Safety concerns come to mind most easily, and I want my daughter to be able to speak (or blabber) her mind (or gut reactions) if she doesn't like something, even if she has to tell an adult “no,” and even if she has to yell it.  At this toddler stage, I want her to know that it’s not rude or inappropriate.  She can interrupt me; she has the right to be both seen and heard.  After this is firmly established, lessons about politeness, patience, and self-sufficiency will be more timely and more easily absorbed.

Maybe latchkey kids grew up independent and self-reliant - they had no choice but to be.  I’m striving to raise my daughter in a way that is driven by concerns other than bare necessity, and I am lucky to have that luxury.  We are no longer in the 40’s and 50’s.  Bullying, like the author noted, is no longer defined by taking someone’s lunch money.  It involves a horridly public assault on a young child’s privacy, vulnerabilities, and flaws.  And yes, it is horrid for a teenager, even though as late-20-something "grown ups," we know that it's just not that bad.  When a boy's lunch money was taken away a generation ago, after being pinned against a locker and given a wedgie (chalk that up to Saved by the Bell reruns), that embarrassing moment could not be known to teenagers across the country, who could then chime in with their own hurtful comments.  No.  A few kids in the hallway laughed about it, and of course it was easier for the victim to rebound from this experience.  So, without a protracted discussion about the obvious difficulties of a Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/etc. centered youth, perhaps “coddling” is necessary, even if you’d like to term it a necessary evil.  “Modern” parenting gives children an unshakable foundation, stronger than parents had to (or could) establish in the past, before sending them out to “modern” middle/high school life.

Finally, I do not understand the recurring negative portrayal of parents who make their children their “whole world.”   Perhaps this modern parent has outgrown her party days, all her friends also have kids, she is active in her community, and she finds time for herself (her interests, her husband, her Hulu queue) when her toddler is sleeping or with her parents, or while she is at work.  And lately, I’m at work a lot.  The rest of my time goes to my daughter, and she knows she’s my world.  It’s fine.  She doesn’t think she’s the center of The World, or the center of the gas station attendant’s world, or of her friend’s mommy’s world.

So before suggesting that “modern parents” are raising pansies and primadonnas, maybe we should give proper heed to the nuances of this conversation.  And let’s circle back in 20 years.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Why Technology Isn't Ruining Our Relationships

I have read many articles lately bemoaning the effects of technology on true, personal interactions.  These arguments have irked me just a little bit more each time I came across them.

It’s true, we no longer write letters and send them snail mail.  I’m sure the contents of our email correspondence are less thoughtful, possibly shorter. We stare into our phones, "liking" captioned pictures of cats and giving advice to strangers, while sitting at a silent dinner with our spouses, who are doing the same.  We disappear into iPads on our commute home, neglecting to stop and smell the “roses” (the urine-scented mold of the subway) and make small talk with the friendly commuter beside us (a drunk, sweaty teen).  We hide behind hashtags, acronyms and emoticons.  We don’t call to set up a lunch date, even though that quick phone call could lead to catching up in ways that we won’t get to do over lunch.  It’s easier to text.  We see our friends less often than we’d like to, and substitute reunions with group email chains.  Maybe we shouldn’t be so “busy” all the time.  
But we also get to see pictures of college roommates’ kids and pets daily, tell childhood friends details about our lives that would not have made it on paper, and respond “unsubscribe” to emails from frat boy cousins attaching unsavory pictures.  We email people who would never receive traditional mail from us, and text those whom we would not bother calling.  We wish happy birthdays to otherwise forgotten high school classmates, and congratulate Facebook friends on new jobs, apartments and accomplishments.  Maybe “happy bday” from the girl who sat behind you in 7th grade Social Studies is ultimately meaningless to you; maybe not.   
Because of the "obsession with," "overreliance on," and "domination of" electronic forms of communication, I know more about my friend’s daily activities in Germany than about my neighbors’ lives.  But no, that’s not exactly what they mean when they complain about our online lives taking over.  The fact that I’m aware Masha had beer and olives for lunch does not come at the expense of my involvement in my community at home.  When my neighbors and I have nothing in common but a zip code, I’ll spend my time reconnecting with friends further away, and finding others who share my interest of gardening, zebras, or French.  We may even form true friendships.
Yes, electronic communication also means I don’t have to visit my friend to see her new baby.  After all, she live-tweeted the entire labor and delivery in more detail than I would want to know about my own childbirth experience.  I can even have Amazon ship her a diaper bag; “gift option”? yes, please.  But I should visit her, it’s what people do.  When she starts accepting guests, I should come over and help her break up the monotony of days with a newborn.  I’ll listen to her birth story (pretending I didn’t throw up in my mouth repeatedly when I read about it online 5 minutes after it happened), and maybe even watch her baby as she indulges in a much needed shower.  And I assume she would do that for me.
I don’t feel unconnected, overconnected, or lonely, as they say I might, despite my hundreds of "friends," "connections," or "followers,” and it would be silly to attempt enumerating all the ways in which our real lives have been enriched by our online existence.  The list is endless and irrefutable, and your phone book and community center have nothing on it. 
Have our relationships with the people physically closest suffered as a result?  Perhaps, but only if we have let this happen.  
What we are missing, and mourning the loss of, is not pre-internet times of genuine connection between people.  Rather, it’s good old fashioned nostalgia; we miss the past, inevitably better, because we were younger then.  We are becoming hyper aware of the difference between a game of paintball in the woods with 20 people, and a game of "kill everyone" (I'm not up on video game trends but I think that's the usual concept) alone in your room, against 100 others alone in their rooms.  We’re increasingly sensitive to the need to put our phones away once in a while.  So your preference for Candy Crush and Facebook poking instead of game nights and dating is your fault.  There’s a way to reap the benefits of technology without losing the human touch, and blame yourself, not the existence of internet, if you can’t strike a balance.  Real and cyber lives do not have to be mutually exclusive; your internet interactions should be enjoyed responsibly.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

NYC blunders

About a week ago, I rolled my eyes watching a young guy in slacks and a button down, clearly heading to work, bump into the turnstiles on his way into the subway- having forgotten to swipe. "Worth a shot," I snickered silently. The station was empty and the abrupt stop did not seem to return his mind to the present.  I don't think he even saw me catch his awkward moment.

But, it seems, karma strikes even for sarcasm not vocalized, eye-rolling not seen.

As I pondered tonight's dinner, conjuring up an image of my fridge and seriously debating all the alternatives (all two alternatives), I, too, neglected to swipe my Metrocard. However, I was walking into a large station at rush hour, and in a massive crowd of purposeful commuters, professional New Yorkers, preparers of the Metrocard in advance. 

The line doesn't stop for you; the next person swipes before you've even cleared the turnstile.

Therefore, the eager home-bound gentleman behind me inadvertently humped me (intentional humps are a different, sweet nuance of traveling the NYC subway system) just as we both realized my mistake, and as an insult to the non-physical but very real injury of marching into a turnstile that wasn't given the signal to turn.  

I recovered gracefully, as anyone would do in my situation, and: (1) frantically rummaged through my Mary Poppins purse to find my card amid lunch containers, candy, socks, and mail, (2) swiped my card, and (3) proceeded onto the platform head down, weaving into the crowd to lose the humper and all witnesses - who, I'm sure, had no interest in following me.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Haircut, hold the sass

I decided to go for a spontaneous haircut yesterday, and told the lady to cut off a lot.  I’ve come a long way from the time I cried after a haircut, before I even got out of the chair, and traumatized the relatively innocent hairdresser who was just following my parents’ instructions (I believe they were: “make her look like a boy” – maybe not verbatim).  My resulting fear of haircuts was marked by years of infrequent and unnoticeable trims until, oddly, I just stopped caring.  I can’t even blame it on post-baby carelessness, although imperfect bangs are just not going to break things for me at this point.  It happened before, when I must have realized that (a) if I tell them to make sure I can still put my hair up for the gym (it’s ok…they don’t know me, and it makes me feel good to say that), ponytail-able hair can’t be atrocious and (b) what’s that thing about hair?  Oh yeah, it grows.  So now I don’t think too much before going.  I get fed up with my hair, schedule a cut, and go to enjoy the wash/head massage, make small talk with the staff, and strut around with my blown out hair for a few days afterwards.  And, this time, rant to my friends about the judgmental B that cut my hair.


Yes lady, it’s been 6 months since I last got a haircut.  Actually, closer to 8 but I told you 6.  And I do, in fact, want you to cut off more than you keep suggesting, but that’s because it’s the style I want now, and not in order to “go another 6 months.”  When you ask how often I blow dry my hair and then sympathetically offer a cut to accommodate my “busy lifestyle” without knowing anything about my lifestyle, you make me want to give you $4.65 as a tip.  If I wasn't leading a “busy lifestyle” that just barely explains (but does not excuse) my less-than-daily straight hair, what are you saying your low maintenance cut will accommodate?  For some reason, you seem to have pegged me as a lazy lesbian that accidentally stumbled into your upper west side venue.  

P.S.  Your roots are grown out, and I think we stopped wearing sunglasses as headbands all day, indoors, at work. It's not even summer yet.

And the haircut was decent, thanks.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Shameful snacking

I had to get a Snickers bar.  I usually get Twix (there were none left) and feel less ashamed about it.  First of all, I thoroughly dislike the taste of Snickers, whereas I truly enjoy consumption of both Twix bars, usually within 10 minutes of purchase.  Second, Snickers is the epitome of instant gratification, lack of self control, embarrassing behavior (particularly because of #1- I hate Snickers).  




“Hungry, why wait?”  Well, because if you wait you can get yourself a healthy snack.  Perhaps an apple or some peanuts not drenched in chemically processed caramel, nougat and low quality chocolate.  Maybe a granola bar or cup of yogurt.  Something that doesn't fall out of a brightly lit machine that stands arrogantly in the empty cafeteria, still stinky from the lunch break.  Or at least a Twix.  Getting a Snickers is a statement, a statement I hid up my suit sleeve during the walk of shame back from the vending machine to my office, where I immediately unwrapped the bar and discarded the wrapper, instantly classing up my lapse in judgment.  I devoured the Snickers before my office mate could return to his desk, and discarded a small piece for my homies.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

On Baby Laughter

There are few things more deliciously satisfying than making your baby laugh. Make a funny sound after a few monotonous ones, or kiss the side of her stomach in just the right place and mood, and you are rewarded with an eruption of giggles. Every sound and smile creates bubbles of happiness that seem to define the joy of youth, the weightlessness of parenting.


Winding down from a good laugh, she gazes directly into your eyes, appreciative and expectant and with such pure love your heart literally skips a beat and I swear, you can feel it, the air in the narrow space between your face and hers is thick with love and you inhale, digging your nose into the little folds of her neck because in those moments that you wish would last forever, where else would you go for air.

Kids of the Subway

One of my favorite NYC subway moments is children stripper-dancing on the train.

I guess I’ll take a step back.

The poles in the middle of the train cars seem to be irresistible to restless young commuters, and there’s not much one can do with a pole except slide down it. Creatively.

Last week, a tourist family laughed hysterically as their little girl took center stage in a relatively empty car. The fact that their amusement encouraged her to keep dancing made it only slightly more awkward. The young father I saw this morning was less amused. He stood there with another father-son pair, talking to the adult as his son gracefully slid down the pole they were all gathered around. He pulled the boy up and told him to stop, with visibly dwindling patience as it happened a few more times.

Maybe I’d find it less funny if it was my own 7 year old boy with his hands wrapped tightly around the subway pole, lowering himself to the ground. Either way, it’s not the innocent behavior of active kids that’s amusing; its the reactions of their less pure-minded guardians that forces me to pretend I read something funny while accidentally glancing over and noticing their pole-dancing youth.

Monday, August 20, 2012

On embarrassing moments

It turns out, embarrassing moments do not end in high school. I thought they would; I thought I resolved them away. In an enlightened moment, following a particularly ungraceful one, I resolved not to dwell embarrassing moments hours after they occurred.

If you can't laugh at yourself, I'll do it for you.

The first bell rang, announcing the end of the period. I was heading to my locker, located in the basement. The lunchroom was also in the basement, and students were rushing out en masse. It was bad enough that I was moving against the flow of traffic, my hands fully occupied with books and snacks. (This makes me sound like a nerdy fatty. I can clarify that I was holding my bookbag, a textbook, and a bag of pretzels but go ahead and imagine me loaded up with history books and donuts falling out of my pockets). Then my heel misses the stair on my way down and suddenly the throngs of noisy 15-18 year olds disappear and it’s just me, my inability to grab on to a handrail, and the boy with deer-in-headlights eyes standing directly below me, in the middle of the flight of stairs I was about to descend untraditionally, with elbows and knees. Whether he meant to or not, he broke my fall. Luckily, he didn’t fall himself, and the crowds slowed for just a moment before continuing to race against the second bell. I saw myself plummeting in slow motion, imagining ahead of time exactly what would happen as my fingertips tingled with the loss of balance.

But it just wasn’t that mortifying.

So, when I stumbled backwards off the last step of the physics lecture hall (those long, short steps), ridiculously slowly, onto the hottest guy in the room (and a senior, at that), my normally eager-to-flush-beet-red face smiled it off despite the fact that it seemed like I was slowly, obnoxiously, and with increasing force leaning against him.

Now, it looks like the workplace is the new high school. Will elaborate after I dry off.