Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Friendly Gendered Skies

On an airplane today, flying to L.A. to visit Dr. Husband’s mom while he does some work at the University of Alaska this week. The plane is full. I’m in the window seat with the baby on my lap/boob. The middle seat is occupied by a sweet-seeming Ukrainian woman. The aisle is taken by a chatty man who works for World Vision and does his banking at Bank of America and used to do a lot of international travel but now is mostly traveling domestically, as his wife prefers to stay home in Seattle.

As a rule I believe the armrests on either side of the middle seat belong to the person in the middle seat because what else does that person have, really? But it turns out that trying to nurse discretely on an airplane sort of requires the use of the nursing-boob-side armrest. So I apologetically ask the woman next to me if it’s okay if I use the armrest between us to prop up my arm while I nurse. She kindly agrees. I use it for five or ten guilt-ridden moments during takeoff, feeling like a shitty row-mate.

Midway through the flight I glance over and see that Mr. Bank of America International Travel World Vision With the Travel-Averse Wife is totally hogging both his armrests. Without asking. Or apologizing. Or, presumably, feeling guilty. And I think, not for the first time, that is the definition of patriarchy.

Motherese on Down the Road

Some sort of child language expert came to give a presentation to our mom’s group this morning, to answer questions about our babies’ language development.

I find most baby-related topics too tedious to think about for too long on any sort of intellectual level (any level at all other than: Tell me the quickest, most effective and painless way to get my child to sleep through the night), and language development is no exception. My child will talk when she talks. In the meantime she will gurgle and coo and cry and then eventually point and nod and grab, and all will be well. Or, alternately, she’ll have some sort of major and concerning speech delay and then we’ll consult some sort of specialist and figure out what the deal is.

Have I mentioned that as an undergraduate psych major I never once opened my Developmental Psychology text book?

Anyway, I’m in the mom’s group for the camaraderie and the snacks, so I’d planned to duck out before Language Lady began. Alas, the baby was napping contentedly when Miss Communication began her spiel, so we stuck around for a while—all the way through When your baby giggles, she’s communicating with you! past Some people like to use sign language with their babies to help them communicate! and We call it PARENTese now, not MOTHERese, up to, It’s GOOD to read to your child! By the time she got to When you read to your baby, you should point to the pictures of faces and talk about the emotions being expressed! Oooh, look at de baby’s wittle face! What a sad little faceypoo! Why is the wee wittle baby sad?!

My own wee wittle babypoo and I couldn’t take it any more and had to leave, waving bye-bye all the way out the door.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Work in Progress

I am now officially a full-fledged member of the parenting club I was so reluctant to join. I paid my dues and everything—and I’m not speaking metaphorically. I’ve attended three meetings and have come to think of the ten other moms as my coworkers. (The ten other babies are, of course, my baby’s coworkers.) They help the day pass much more quickly. They share their snacks. They’re great for conversations around the water cooler. And if the boss gets upset with the quality of my work, I know they’ve got my back. (Who’s the boss? The baby, I suppose. Or maybe Tony Danza. Whichever. They communicate their desires with clear verbal instructions to me equally often.)

The downside, of course, is the inevitable competitiveness—not over assignments or clients or praise from the boss but jeans size and sleeping habits of our offspring.

My personal low today hit me after the following exchange:

Me: Does anyone else try to get work done at home and feel like it’s impossible?

Sweet Blonde Woman [est. size 6 jeans]: Yeah. It’s challenging, isn’t it?

Me [size 12 jeans]: Totally! How do you—?

Sweet Blonde Woman: I can only get work done in a few two-hour chunks when she’s napping in her crib.

Me [in my head]: Two-hour naps? A few of them? In her crib?

Me [in reality]: ---

Sweet Blonde Woman: Also, I get up at 6 so I can get a few hours of work done before she wakes up. But you don’t want to do that! [Smiling.]

Me [in my head]: Right! I don’t want to do that because the 3 to 21 minutes of work I would get done before my child wakes up is hardly worth it. And since my child has migrated to a spot right next to me by 6 in the morning, she would likely wake up with me anyway! Why won’t my child sleep in her crib?! Why won't she sleep until 8am? Why won’t she nap for more than 20 minutes at a time?! Why must she sleep on me?! When will Dr. Husband and I ever have sex again?!

At this point the facilitator sensed my panic and very gently reminded me that my baby is younger than Size 6 Sweet Blonde Woman’s baby. There’s hope, she seemed to be trying to say. Or maybe, Chill the hell out, crazy anxiety lady. You’re scaring all the babies.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

My Day, Made

As I was leaving the house without the baby today I thought about how long it’s been since anyone has flirted with me. People just do not flirt with pregnant ladies or moms of tiny babies—especially when they seldom leave the house. So you can imagine my delight when a bus driver hopped off his resting bus and asked me if there was any good food in the neighborhood.

That's flirtation, right? Right?!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

A Big Day (And It's Not Even Noon)

Last night, Dr. Husband and I had the following exchange as he removed a bag of Sara Lee bread crusts from the freezer so he can make stuffing (and a roast chicken!) tonight for dinner (I know—a Jewish doctor who cooks!):

Dr. Husband: Nobody does it like Sara Lee.

Me: You know, when I was growing up, I always wondered whether it was “Nobody does it like Sara Lee” or “Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee.”

Dr. Husband, in a tone that says, obviously, people: It’s “Nobody does it like.”

Me: Yeah, well. I thought the double negative was weird, but whatever.

Dr. Husband: Silly.

Me: I was twelve.


Today has been slightly more exciting. I took the baby to meet a friend for coffee, and first Dan Savage told me he loved my baby.

Then the guy who started The Onion told me my baby was cute and gave me a recommendation on a daycare center.

Then—and this is the best part—as I was stopped at a red light on the way home a Sara Lee truck drove by. The side of it read: “Nobody Doesn’t Like Sara Lee.”