breaking another habit

I avoided Twitter for nearly a decade. It didn’t interest me. I wasn’t intrigued. I kept waiting for the trend of “tweets” showing up on live TV broadcasts to cease. Basically, I refused to entertain the idea of it, at all.

Then about four months ago, I started this blog. Since I wasn’t sure what my aims were with it (still I’m not totally sure) I went ahead and got the handle of “Suburban Doldrums” at Twitter, Instagram, even a Facebook page, just in case I ever needed them but someone else registered the awesome name “Suburban Doldrums” before I had a chance too.

When I joined Twitter I just searched “Mom Blog” or “Mommy Blogger” and added all the accounts that came up. I’m a stay at home mom of three. Seemed like a mindless no-brainer. I’m a mom with a blog, I’ll follow other moms with other blogs. I started scrolling through it regularly and as certain feeds caught my eye, gradually added more and more “tweeters” to follow.

In truth, the ‘mommy bloggers’ are boring. Most of them post the same links over and over. I started to wrinkle my nose up at many of them, every time I saw another “Top Ten Ways To Be A FABULOUS Mommy!” post. So, I started following political tweets.

Then President Trump ascended to the oval office and … the world broke. Now my Twitter feed sprinted news out, scandal after scandal, outrage following disbelief. The roller coaster didn’t stop there. The protests and the stories and pictures I see swing my emotions back up. This past weekend I felt like a proud American again. WE – the WE is the nation – WE spontaneously came together and protested against an executive order that most (including our Justice Department) believe is unconstitutional.

In a funny way, Mr. Trump has brought the left/middle/compassionate right together in a way I don’t think Clinton ever could. We all have a clear agenda to oppose. I feel hope in a way I haven’t felt in a long time.

Here’s the point of this post, though. I have an addictive personality. I know this. I can consume media to the point of obsession and I have to make a conscious decision to limit myself from it. This is why I don’t access FB on my phone anymore, and also why if a terrible tragedy happens in the news (like the Sandy Hook massacre) I have to force myself to turn all media off and just read about it the next day in the paper. I learned this about myself when the Virgina Tech shootings occurred. I spent something like 13 hours straight consuming as much news and updates and heartbreaks as I could and it was in no way healthy for me.

Yesterday I realized Twitter is becoming an obsession. The middle-of-the-night feedings were an excuse to hit the Twitter app on my phone and stay up 10-15 minutes beyond H’s midnight snack. I’d wake up in the morning and scroll, scowl, sigh over the latest “breaking news” stories, totally parenting on autopilot and not forcing myself to stay present. The airport protests and Trump tweets and Trump tweet responses wrapped themselves up into a continuous dialogue in my head and I finally realized, ‘Wow. I’m getting addicted’.

Now my iPhone is without the Twitter app again. It’s getting filed to “laptop-access-only” which severely limits my time on it. It’s been about 24 hours and I already feel a little less frantic about my need to ‘engage and conversate’ and it’s not like I’m out of touch with what is happening out there. I’m not in any position to join spontaneous protests so the ‘what’s happening this second’ newsfeed isn’t important in my daily life.

I’m gonna make like a senior citizen and get all my news from the TV (broadcast news, not cable) and newspaper and radio. (typing that all out makes me realize that’s a ton of media sources too lol).

bad moms

I’m writing something different today. I’ve felt a bit of writer’s block lately, but, as this is my space for whatever I want, I’m reviewing the movie Bad Moms.

I’ll preface it by noting I’ve heard only good reviews from other moms. It’s the movie everyone (everymom?)  can universally agree on- it’s funny and relatable. My friends told me they laughed so hard they cried while watching it.

Now, my snobby inner critic must present itself here.

I sort of expected to not like this movie, based on the word-of-mouth alone.

I know. It’s super pretentious and ridiculous to think so highly of my own taste. That’s a personal problem.

But, I just expected a movie full of cliches and embarrassing moments.

Now, here’s how my predictions were wrong.

Bad Moms is amusing. I think I chuckled several times. I nodded my head in agreement with many of the stereotypical scenes of mommyhood featured. The plot is predictable from the get-go, but the story is lively enough that it doesn’t feel dragged down.

There are some problems I had with the story, though. The characters are one dimensional. Christina Applegate’s character disses Mila Kunis’s for working and being away from her kids all day (yet the kids are old enough to be in school, so what is a mom supposed to do? Sit around all day at home pining for their children?) yet in another scene they make fun of Kristen Bell’s character for being a stay-at-home-mom.

Which one is it? Is this meta? Proof you can’t win, no matter what you do? These discrepancies don’t come off as symbolic, it just seems a little sloppy.

It also annoyed me Bell’s character has 4 young kids, none of them old enough to enroll in Middle School, yet she goes to the PTA meetings and is at school drop-off for some reason. These are the type of issues that bother me about the plot, but overall it didn’t really matter to the story.

The movie relies on way too many “loud-music-montage” scenes. Like, way too many. There are at least five of them- blaring loud pop music, and the mom’s having a good old time, drinking wine or walking seductively out of houses or making out with old grocery store clerks. It feels manipulative and they could have cut at least three of them.

That said, I do have to give kudos to Hollywood for producing a mainstream movie featuring just women. And these women aren’t pining after men. Kunis’ character doesn’t seem heartbroken when she catches her husband cheating on her, it’s just a small subplot. I kept expecting the slutty Mom to get her due in the form of realizing having random sex isn’t fulfilling, but, they kept her character completely one-dimensional in a good way. The chick just loves sex and they didn’t make us question it.

And that’s the refreshing part of Bad Moms. All these character problems I see, the corny music, the predictability, it’s all not great; but it’s the same level of not-greatness of any other male-centric raunchy comedy. Does Will Ferrell play complex characters in Old School or Talladega Nights? Do we expect him to? No! It’s pretty awesome Hollywood took a chance on a movie like this, and this so-so movie has grossed over $181 million dollars to date. $181 million dollars. That is awesome and I predict it’ll lead to more female-driven movies just like this that are dumb and silly and aren’t romantic comedies.

I watched this movie with H sleeping soundly in my arms and a can of IPA and my husband next to me. Perhaps if I’d gone and seen it in the theater with my girlfriends I would have laughed harder. The community feel of it, hearing all the other ladies in the crowd loving seeing normal women and normal problems on screen, maybe I would have felt more affection for it that way. The theaters were probably the same atmosphere as the “Thunder Down Under” in Vegas; when you are there it’s the best thing ever and a sort of female hysteric mode gets into you, but when you watch the same guys at home on your TV alone, it’s just not the same thing. They are just silly guys dancing with their shirts off.

So, all in all, there are lots of things to appreciate about Bad Moms, and most of all, it’s the fact that it’s just another unremarkable dumb movie remarkable for featuring a cast of all females. Girl Power!

 

 

parenting in the age of trump

Whoa, whoa, whoa, you say. Either you roll your eyes at my crybaby liberal ways when you read this title, or you nod your head in agreement. This divide we all are in is stark and very real.

Tonight I brought my kids to a diner. Just me and the three of them, it was a reward for my older son. We sat at our booth and as soon as we settled I overheard a couple. Two old ladies were discussing our new president at top volume.

It was pretty obvious they were big fans.

I kept thinking, Ohh, wrong! Or – how can they believe that? Or wishing they’d ask me my opinion. Which of course they didn’t, wouldn’t. They were having a private conversation at such a volume you’d think they were on stage performing, but it still was private.

Besides I’m not confrontational at all.

Anyway, at one point they started talking about me, and the kids, at the same decimal level. “Ooh, look at him. Cute baby. Good baby. Quiet!”

“They are all so good so quiet”

“Wow! Amazing kids!”

I didn’t know if I should thank them, smile at them or ignore them and pretend I didn’t hear.

I gave a silent cheer when they got up to leave and approached my table to tell me to my face: “Great, great, good kids”.

On the drive home I couldn’t get the ladies out of my head, their reverence for President Trump, and their utter lack of self-consciousness on discussing their approval in such a loud volume. My older son E knows the very basics of the past year’s politics – he knows we do not support Trump – and I started to get sad thinking about growing up with someone like Trump in charge.

Because – when you think about it- what is the phrase we always tell our kids? Maybe one day you’ll be president. It’s the ultimate honor, the ultimate job title. And all kids know the leader is a strong, good person. A person deserving of praise.

Okay, this is a romantic notion, but that’s certainly how I remember my childhood presidents of Regan, HW Bush, and Clinton.

I just don’t think I can see myself, ever, telling my children anything positive about Trump. He’s rude, crass, a liar, not curious about anything intellectual, he’s sexist, racist, I mean, it goes on and on. If I were to spin a positive light on him, I’d have to say he is a hard worker and a good salesman. That’s about it. Trying to raise responsible, civically minded children is harder now considering the mess we have in charge now.

I am also aware I just need to tell my six-year-old the very basics in regards to this president. He knows we didn’t support Trump, and he knows I find Trump lacking in character, and that’s probably all he needs to know. I have a “no-lie” policy with him; I don’t encourage the Santa myth, I’ve never given a cutesy explanation on where babies come from (I get very scientific and only give the most basic details he needs). So, it’s hard for me, when he asks, “Why is Trump president? Are you ok with that” not to answer him with a straight honest opinion.

I suppose this is the problem of someone like myself, stuck in that liberal bubble I wrote about after the election. Maybe I’m making to much of this and all this drama is in my head and I should just get over it. Maybe. But maybe not. For the time, I will focus on raising good kids. I won’t let my sensitive oldest kid know the unease I feel whenever Trump is on screen.

This new era our country is in already feels so tumultuous and it’s been but three days since the inauguration. Is it the midterms yet?

negative motivation

My alarm blared at 5:15am this morning. I scraped myself up, walked into the dark living room, pumped milk and then returned to the room to top off baby H before I left. I bade a quiet goodbye to my husband, patted our dog on her head, and left.

Driving to the gym before the sun rises makes me feel like a motivated fit-ass bitch.

The 6 am “Insanity” class is new at the gym, and when I mentioned to my husband I was thinking about attending it he scoffed. He teased. He told me there was no way I’d make it to the class that early.

I mean, I can understand his jests.

I’m lazy – especially when he’s home. Unless I have work, I bum around all day. I sip coffee and watch my morning news program of choice (the awesome “Good Day New York” which features my fav duo Greg & Roseanne… I love unscripted, off the cuff and corny news when I wake up) and generally I procrastinate the day away in yoga pants and unwashed hair. I am that cliche SAHM.

And I also know he was teasing me as a way to get me to do it.

He knows me well.

Tell me I won’t succeed and I do my best. I’ve always been that way. But give me encouragement and support to go to the gym? I slink away and mutter and generally end up wearing the same clothes with a build of food stains three days in a row.

And even when I know I’m being played, even though I saw that smug twinkle in his eye as he was berating me and I was overreacting, a part of me believed him and just had to prove him wrong.

So that’s how I found myself with twenty other early morning gym rats, bouncing and pushing and sprinting in place. I’m sure most of the other people there had jobs to get to, important things to do. I am not one of those people. I was done with my workout at 7 am and had the rest of the morning to slurp on one cup of coffee and change diapers and try to find dairy-free snacks to snack on.

The class was good too. Nothing life-changing or revolutionary, but hard and I built up a good sweat. Will I make it a weekly habit? Not sure yet, but I do know if I ever dare to plan on attending it again, the husband will mock and I will shriek in reply and I’ll find myself back at the exact same place I did this morning, again.

#baristalife

A little over a year ago, I started working for a large corporate coffee chain. I went into the job with a strong envisionment of a quick-paced yet quirky work environment. I’d have regulars and we’d have long, engaging conversations about life, politics, books, the arts. My co-workers would inspire me and I’d have a group of work friends again. I knew this coffee shop is a busy place, but I had no idea just how busy it is.

I quickly learned this ideal I aimed for was not going to happen. At least not as frequently as I wanted.

Taking the job was supposed to socially reward me. I missed flying so bad it was like a missing limb and I knew being a flight attendant again wasn’t going to happen for a while due to my young kids. Since I love this large corporate coffee chain as a customer and always admired them as a corporation, I figured working there was a good idea.

One of the things I loved most about my life as a flight attendant was the people I met. My co-workers were a diverse, fascinating mix of folks from all backgrounds, ages, religions. The passengers were even more of a mixed bag. I’ve had conversations with the most interesting people at 35k feet – talked to people going through heartbreak, celebrating huge business deals, coming back from selling a book, going to bury a loved one – the sheer “humanness” of the traveling public is something I always loved.

The grizzled, tired flight attendants who were burnt out would marvel (or scoff, more likely, there was major eye rolling, but this is my romantic fantasy so hear me out) at my ability to talk to just about anyone about just about anything.

So, anyway, I thought that working for a coffee shop would have a similar feel to it. Except, rather than meeting someone super cool and only having a cross country flight to talk to them, I could see them every day. Really build a relationship, you know?

Oh, silly, naive me.

Working for this large coffee corporation, at least for me, is always better in theory. Like, I like talking about it when I’m not there. I love the perks of the place as an employee, especially off the clock. The discount, the freebies, the fact it’s a very progressive place to work at, when I’m away from the place I love it.

But actually being there, at 6 am, with a line out the door, slinging drinks out at 45-50 cups each half hour, in those moments, I seriously question why I’m leaving my kids and working that hard. My regulars are there every morning, but I have just enough time to breath out a quick “morning” before I have to help the next guy in line.

The coworkers are just as frazzled as me. The ones who have worked there for decades are usually far more incompetent than the new high school aged hires. Give me a 16-year-old to bark drink orders at any day. The problem, too, is we are just too darn busy to actually get to know each other at all. These relationships I pictured, they just don’t happen the way I wanted, I needed. I only worked 10-15 hours a week but I felt constantly drained at the end of every shift.

When I left for maternity leave I figured I’d hang my apron up for good. But the company, being the great company that it is, sort of refused to let me quit. They kept extending my leave to the point that by the time H was three months old, I sorta thought going back to work seemed like a good idea. I’d go into my store and watch the kids steaming milk and think about how I missed it.

Plus, earning money, my own money, even if it’s just a small amount, is something I think I’ll always need to do.

So last week I went back for my first shift. It’s been a good five months since I’ve worked there regularly and I shocked myself by knowing the name and drink orders of most of the “regulars”. They all were very happy to see me, as since I’m not native to Long Island, NY I’m actually bubbly and sweet and upbeat, unlike most of the locals … plus my co-workers were all welcoming and excited as well.

But, two hours into my five-hour shift, I was already thinking, “I wonder if I can leave early”. I just have to laugh at that. First day back and I already went back into my old habits.

I’m going to try working more evening shifts this time. The night shift is slower, so at the very least I can hopefully have one or two good conversations with someone. Putting in 10 hours a week is something I can stomach for the time being, if only to make me appreciate my time at home with the kids more.

So, once again, I’m living that glamourous #baristalife and my status of “just a stay at home mom” isn’t completely accurate any longer.

the lost art of conversation

When I close my eyes and remember my childhood, and picture my mom, she’s on the phone. My mom spent a great deal of her day gabbing on the phone. Having private conversations with her girlfriends, relatives, gossiping and laughing and pretty much lost in her own world. Thinking about it now, it was the 90’s version of a smart-phone addiction- her way to tune out the mundane world of rearing small kids.

It was clear to me she was enjoying herself. Her face and tone and expressions were always animated. Hearing her in the background as I played Barbies or house or read; looking back now it seems so quaint.

These days, my kids see me as a zombie, holding the little rectangle of light in my palm, thumb scrolling scrolling scrolling. Always looking down, not really engaged at all. I think most people would be shocked and embarrassed if they saw themselves looking at social media – like a time lapse video direct from their phone showing the vacant expressions and agape mouths. My little boy has an old digital camera we let him take photos with, and it’s depressing to see the candid shots of me, sitting on the couch reading my phone. I don’t look happy. My expression is dead and I have serious RBF.

I picture my mom, with the landline cord wrapped around her, bustling around the kitchen. She looked alive.

I, too, used to talk on the phone with my friends. Long conversations. Enjoyable chats and gossip. It’s slowly gone away – it used to be a frequent thing, but now we all seem too busy to actually talk. It’s not the social norm any longer. When a new friend calls me rather than texts, it sorta makes me look twice. “Why isn’t she just texting?” I wonder. When an old friend calls me and we talk for an hour, it feels like a revolution. Hearing a friend’s voice, the cadence of it, the music of the conversation, it’s something I wish was an everyday thing, not a rare treat.

I do talk on the phone quite frequently to my Mom, and my husband (when he’s out of town). But it’s not quite the same thing as having multiple friends to talk to.

It’s trite to point out, but I have over 400 friends on Facebook but have probably only had real phone conversations with about a five of them during the last year.

Nothing beats spending time face to face, with a friend. And I’m starting to realize the updates and photos we all share with each other, while nice to see, aren’t real. It’s not the same at all. Any engagement with the outside world is great, I need it however I can get it, but I really wish this trend in my life of only communicating by written technology would slow down.

[and with that, I end this written blog communication, wiping away the irony with a florish]

sacrifice

Being a Mom is all about sacrifice, says every mother ever. The list is endless. It’s boring to bemoan them. My little baby, H, who is the easiest of all my children, has been trying to tell me something isn’t quite right for nearly all of his nearly four months of life. I’m too pig-headed and stubborn to fully accept it, but now the time has come and I really need to heed it and respect it.

See, since birth, he’s had curious looking stools. I’m somewhat of a overanalyzer when it comes to the bowel movements of my newborn children, so I’ve always known his mucus, pink-tinged stools aren’t quite right. Even though they come out of him looking like a mess, he himself has never displayed any of the tell-tale signs of an allergy. He sleeps well, sleeps long, he’s happy, easy to please. So rather than start the process of eliminating food from my diet, I have just assumed the odd-looking poops are a sign of a virus, maybe, or a slight foremilk/hindmilk imbalance.

Earlier this week I was on a veggie kick, eating huge kale salads and tons of Brassica vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower) and his eliminations were getting very bad. He was gassy too. So I decided to try cutting all those gassy veggies from my diet, at the suggestion of the many mom groups that I’m a part of. Three days later and they look more normal, but still show signs of blood and mucus. So, today, I’m looking the problem directly in the eye. No more dairy.

No more cheese.

No more butter.

Cheese is a great joy of my life. So is butter. This is going to suck. I’ve never really been good at the whole – “dieting thing”. But it’s obvious something I’m eating is not sitting in him right, and despite his happy disposition I owe it to him to figure this out. For him.

Cue a major whine from me for the foreseeable future whilst I lament the missing dairy elements from my life. This, my friends, will be the ultimate sacrifice.