Macy’s, Menopause and The Men’s Room

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Recently actor and dad Ashton Kutcher and his 5 month old daughter Wyatt Isabelle were in the news. It seems that doting dad Ashton was rightfully miffed at the curious lack of diaper changing facilities in men’s restrooms.  It’s 2015, people – dads change diapers! So what’s a dad to do when faced with a diaper changing dilemma? Will Koala answer the call and outfit men’s rooms across the nation with changing tables, or will desperate dads everywhere start storming the ladies’ room to avail themselves of their diaper changing facilities?

While it would be rather startling to walk in and see some guy in the ladies’ room (especially if it’s Ashton Kutcher!), having recently made my own foray into the men’s room, I’m hardly one to judge.

Allow me to explain.

I’m at a point in my life where hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and yes, a fussy bladder have become a fact of life.   A quick search over at  WebMd bore this out:

During and after the process of menopause, levels of the female hormone estrogen drop significantly. In addition to controlling your monthly periods and body changes during pregnancy, estrogen helps keep the bladder and the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body, healthy.

Lack of estrogen may also cause the pelvic muscles responsible for bladder control to weaken, resulting in urinary incontinence.

While I haven’t started cruising the Poise aisle at the drugstore yet, lately the sense of urgency I feel when I have to pee is, well, pretty damn urgent.  When I have to go, I. Have. To. Go.

And here comes the part about the men’s room.

I was shopping for my husband at Macy’s one afternoon when the urge hit. Having learned the hard way not to ignore it for too long (my first ever UTI a few months ago taught me well – thanks again, menopause!) I made my way to the ladies’ room only to find a burly plumber at the entrance, who informed me that it was closed due to a burst pipe, and that I should use the ladies’ room on the 1st floor.  I was on the 4th floor. The men’s room was right next door. My brimming bladder felt like it was knocking against my uterus and ovaries, threatening to make a break for it.

I made, what seemed to me, a perfectly logical, rational decision. I was going to use the men’s room.

I have three younger brothers. I have a husband. I have a son. I know what boys look like. There was nothing in that men’s room that I hadn’t seen before.  After all, I wasn’t going in there to look. I was going in there to pee.

The plumber watched me turn, make a right and start walking into the men’s room.

“Hey, you can’t go in there!” he called after me.

Now, I’ve always been a calm, even-tempered person; I play by the rules and don’t like to make a scene. But this stage of life has flipped a switch in me where my tolerance level for just about everything has lowered considerably – so don’t you DARE tell me that I can’t go pee, Mr. Plumber-Man!

I turned to face him and replied sweetly, “Oh, really? Watch me.”  Head down and eyes averted, I scurried into the men’s room (I think I caught a fleeting glimpse of some boots standing at a urinal, I can’t be sure) and plunged headlong into the first stall I came to. I locked the door, and stood there for a second, listening. Was the plumber going to call security to come hustle me out of the bathroom? Was there a guy wearing boots standing at the urinal ready to curse me out for invading this sacred man-space? Was I going to make it through this without peeing my pants?

All I heard was silence. I yanked down my Lululemon’s, squatted over the toilet, and mercifully, gratefully, peed. And peed. And peed. When I was done I slowly opened the stall door, stuck my head out and looked around. The men’s room was empty. I rushed out, quickly washed my hands at the sink and glided out triumphantly, the plumber nowhere in sight. But there was an elderly couple standing in the hallway who saw me exit the men’s room. They looked at me, looked at the “out-of-order” sign that was now in front of the ladies’ room, then quizically looked to me again.

“It’s okay, go ahead – it’s empty” I whispered conspiratorially, nodding over to the men’s room.  The woman gave me an amused little smirk and, shrugging her shoulders, walked in to use the facilities while her husband stood guard outside.

And, not that I was looking, but I don’t think there was a diaper changing table in that men’s room, either.

Face/Off, Grandma Edition

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As moms, we’ve all experienced this phenomenon at one point or another – your kid does or says something maddening, disrespectful or just plain gross and you respond with something you’ve heard pop out of your own mom’s mouth a million times – ‘if you keep doing that your face will freeze that way’ or ‘finish your food – there are kids starving in Africa (at which point I’d offer to send my food to the kids in Africa and that would start a whole new battle) and the hands-down worst ‘because I said so, that’s why!’ When that last one flew out of my mouth I looked around to see if my mother was standing behind me, I was so sure there was no way I would have ever said that – but there it was. It’s happened to all of us.
And I can live with that. I can even live with the fact that, sometimes, some of that stuff actually makes sense to me now (as in ‘one day, you’ll thank me’), and eventually my kid will probably experience this special joy with his own children. It’s the circle of life.
But I’ve reached a point in life where, not only am I channeling my mom’s words, apparently she’s broken out all over my face.
I’ve always borne a strong resemblance to my mom; growing up I bristled at the often repeated phrase ‘you look so much like your mother!’ echoed by family, neighbors, friends and strangers, which contrasted to mom’s quiet pride upon hearing this declaration. Like any teenager I wanted to have my own identity, my own unique look – not be a replica but more a combination of features that added up to a new edition in the family library, not a reprint.
My son, though, doesn’t mind his resemblance to me at all. I’ve heard history repeat itself with ‘oh, you must be S.’s mom – you two have the same smile/eyes/insert feature’. One day we were looking through some family photos and my son proclaimed in no uncertain terms:
“Mom, you look exactly like grandma; not grandma now, but a younger version of grandma. Like maybe when she was fifty.” (Full disclosure, I turned fifty a few months ago). And as I looked closely I couldn’t deny it any longer – I had to admit he was right. In words, features and probably so many other ways, the past collides with the present every day. As moms it’s up to us to capture the best of both worlds, crafting the next chapter as we each write our own imprint for the family library. Looking at my son just then I thought of another mom-ism, and I delivered it not with the threat it sometimes implies when moms utter it in anger, but with a promise for our future together as time winds its way inevitably forward:
‘When you have kids, I hope they’re just like you!’

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You don’t know these folks, but can you spot the resemblance?  Let me know in the comments!

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Tech Tips for Potential Presidential Candidates

Yesterday I heard something truly disturbing. It seems that Hillary Rodham Clinton, a potential candidate for President of the United States, is unaware that two or more email accounts can peacefully co-exist on one handheld device.  Shocking, isn’t it?
Honestly, her emails pertaining to Chelsea’s wedding plans, love notes between she and Bill, chats about yoga classes or order confirmations for her myriad pantsuits don’t concern me; what does concern me (other than the whole putting national security at risk thing, of course) is her lack of expertise in this area. Come on, surely there must have been some trusted tech-savvy aide who could have helped her out with this setup! Of course, not everyone is as lucky as I am to have a teenage son around (that’s who set up the 4 email accounts on my phone!), so I found her this nifty tutorial on YouTube that illustrates how it’s done.  You’re welcome!

Passive-Aggressive Parenting 101: Study Tips

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Me:  Why don’t you put your science notes from this week on index cards so it’ll be easier for you to study for your next exam?

Son:  Is this one of those things where you ask me a question and make me think I have a choice but really you’re just going to tell me what to do anyway?

Me:  Yes.

Son:  Okay, good to know.