Dear Social Media: Sometimes you really wear me out.

Life isn't a competition, but according to Facebook, I'm kicking your ass.

I like to talk. Given the chance, those who know me best will tell you that, in fact, I love it. Maybe more than anything. Except bread. God knows I’ll gladly give you a kid for a warm loaf of bread with honey butter. Add a Diet Coke to that order and you can have both my beautiful offspring.

But since My Space (remember that?), Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, Pinterest, Etsy, and countless other social media channels have entered my life and each taken a turn at being my primary diversionary obsession, I find that I am….tired.

For me, that’s a painful fact to reconcile…the idea of being tired of talking. In my world, that’s blasphemy.

However, the truth is that social media can be a little like a parasite eating away at my will to remain appropriate. There are so many venues to express myself and yet, I can’t escape the feeling that these channels are just countless new / additional places where I must be a pale version of myself.

The Internet, after all, is forever. And that means those of us who don’t get paid to get our freak on for the amusement of the World Wide Web must think before we speak (or write).  Bummer.

Don’t get me wrong, I love social media.  But too often, playing in the social sandbox feels a bit like being continually sized up by the cool kids — the ones always looking to see if you measure up. Are you funny but not crass? Smart but not nerdy? Opinionated but not alienating? 

Sigh. Perhaps I am the only one yearning for authenticity. Honesty. The full picture. But alas, there’s just too much pressure to appear a certain way online. 

May your life someday be as awesome as you pretend it is on Facebook.

Too tired to even fake it anymore. Sad, isn’t it? My husband, too, is dismayed.

In the beginning of the online social revolution, the feeling that we were together yet alone was exhilarating. After all, what was the chance someone we knew was really going to come across that blog post?

Not anymore. In a few short years social media has created unprecedented levels of global human connectedness.  And that’s fantastic. But it also means that everyone is going to see that picture of you playing tip cup. Last weekend. With your kids in the background doing virgin jello shots.

It’s kind of exhausting.

Then again, I’m sure this is just my problem. And in spite of everything, I always did like running with the popular crowd. So breaks I may take, but I will always be back.

Maybe soon, dear social media, we can drop the charade and really get to know each other.  In a totally appropriate way, of course.

Advertisements

True Confessions Friday

Last month I wrote about Guilt. And how I have a lot of it. I was all freaked out about posting the piece because I have this infuriating need to be liked and approved of, which I am pretty sure drives He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named INSANE. But I did it anyway. Because, well, why the hell not? At some point a person has to LIVE, for God-freakin-sake. Throw caution to the wind and care in the can, because what is life if all you do is obsess over whether people LIKE you?  (For the record, this bravado flies directly in the face of the way I live my life on a daily basis. I’m thinking I must have missed a pill or two that week.) 

In any case, I posted it. And the damn thing got picked up on ‘Freshly Pressed.’  So.  So, what? you say.  Well, SO… even though I’ve been wanting to further unburden my oft-troubled soul of all the things I feel bad about from week to week — because it is, in some freakish way, cathartic for me — I’ve developed an irksome case of performance anxiety. 

Seriously, I don’t have that many more good stories about Catholic school. It was a generally positive experience, which makes me more than a little bitter when I consider how much material I really should have gotten out of those four years. I never even got my hands smacked with a ruler. Not once. Sister Marianne did staple my shirt shut on one occasion, but that is a digression for another day. 

Guilt. Performance anxiety. Confessions. Yes…that’s why I logged in. So rather than never again have the opportunity to virtually offload my many domestic transgressions, I am instituting the first-ever “Time to Make the Brownies” weekly tradition:

True Confessions Friday. Because Guilt isn't just for Mondays, anymore...

As a rule, I’m not a fan of bloggy games. They seem like a lot of work to me. But we’re going to pretend this one is really fun. Mostly because I said so. 

This Week’s Seven Deadly Sins (aka, Stuff I feel bad about):

  1. My complete inability to cook even ONE healthy meal for the offsprings’ consumption while their creator was out-of-town on business.  Yes, we ate out. Every. Single. Night.  If you listen closely, you can hear their cholesterol rising from the depths of my bedroom.
  2. Allowing aforementioned offspring to be the last two remaining souls at summer camp for reasons I cannot even remember but am positive did not warrant the undue stress of feeling forgotten by the only parent within a 500 mile radius.
  3. Failure to complete the lone-requested Father’s Day gift — a mammoth, three-year picture project that was initiated exclusively out of a deep-seated desire for shiny new photo albums — DESPITE being awarded four full days of complete solitude last week and another four husband-free days this week. I am so screwed. Bad wife. Bad, BAD wife!
  4. Continuing to sort dirty clothes into elaborately-classified piles in the downstairs guest room, but not actually do a single load of laundry.  Just to give myself the satisfaction of seeing empty hampers in all the other bedrooms.
  5. Neglecting to write checks, draft inspiring notes and mail cards for second cousins’ high school graduations in two different states, despite telling the spouse this task has already been crossed off his exceptionally comprehensive ‘To Do’ list.
  6. Unjustly administering the ‘I don’t care if you don’t want to eat it or don’t want to do it or you think it’s not fair. There are starving children in Africa and scared children in L.A. who go to bed listening to gunshots ring outside their windows, so be grateful for what you have and when I tell you to do something, just do it” lecture, out of nothing more than garden-variety frustration over screeching siblings who chose to ignore repeated requests to help pick up the avalanche of possessions sprinkled about my family room.
  7. For responding to the oldest child’s cry for help with, “If this is a joke, I am so going to spank your butt.” (In my defense, he was crying wolf from underneath the porch in an attempt to get my attention during the one phone call I’ve made to my mother in their presence in the last three weeks.  Still, I’m pretty sure threats of physical violence result in immediate disqualification for the ‘Mother of the Year’ award.)

There. I feel better already.  Thank you for your support.  Hopefully soon, I’ll figure out if WordPress enables the function that will allow you to link to my post with a cute little icon that provides a direct path back to your own ‘True Confessions Friday.’ 

In the meantime, feel free to unburden yourself in the Comments section. And if you know a good priest who can provide Friday afternoon absolution, send me his contact information. I seriously doubt my Craig’s List ad is going to attract the right candidate for this activity.

The case for hoarding

As a general rule, I feel compelled to have actual content before bothering anyone with my random thoughts.  But it’s Wednesday.  And here in la-la-land, that’s You Can Do It! day, so indulge me.  Or wait for Thursday, when I get back to real writing.  Because right now, we’re boarding the bus for “Things Laura Gets Excited About And Then Realizes She Doesn’t Have The Right Curtains For.” 

So, I was reading another blog this morning and I came across this:

Tie Dress

And I thought, Oh my God, that is so kind of…HOT…and it’s just like those curtains my mother-in-law made me for the office, like, 10 years ago.  Except those are not hot, but MAN, what a great post this would make!  And then I saw this:

Tie wreath

And THIS:

Tie clock

And I thought, OK, now seriously, I totally HAVE to do the tie post.  So I go running downstairs with my camera and the cutest belt I can find because at this point, I am completely committed to modeling the latest in tie-curtain-dress fashion, and it turns out that at some point during the last move, I THREW THEM AWAY.

This is something I do often.  Throw things away. I hate clutter and having arbitrary things l don’t really need.  So every couple of months, I’ll pick a closet or drawer and just start chucking stuff.  My husband — the one who still has his ceramic baby booties (don’t get me started), a moderately inappropriate scrapbook made for him by his high school girlfriend, and shreds of a once-thought-to-be-cool University of Colorado t-shirt with a middle finger on it — hates this behavior.  But I have kids with a crap-ton of stuff and therefore I absolutely loathe having other at-the-time seemingly useless stuff shoved in random places around my house.  

I will admit that my predisposition towards roomy drawers does sometimes come back to bite me in butt.  Like when I can’t find a single white button-up shirt to wear with jeans because I’ve thrown them all away due to possibly-imaginary-but-really-probably-there yellow stains under the arms.  Or when I want to craft a tie-curtain-dress masterpiece. 

So maybe the hoarder is right.  Maybe I should save more.  That way, when maxi-pad minis and coupon-covered lamp shades come into vogue, I’ll be totally ready.

Finding my religion

Some women claim they do not pray.  These women are childless.  Because I’m here to tell you, buy a couple shots for 90% of the mothers in this world, and they will cop to clawing open the little red box under the bed that bears the words, “In case of emergency, break glass, grab rosary, apologize for being an idiot and pray like hell.”

When you are a carefree and rebellious youth unfettered by the responsibilities of family life, it’s fine and dandy to go around questioning your religious convictions and popping off about how you may or may not believe in a Higher Being.  But kids have a knack for bringing you to your knees early and often, y’all. 

I’m not sure if fathers pray.  My experience is that the just-fix-it gender prefers to take the ‘keep your own counsel, go with your gut and cuss a lot‘ approach to parenting.  But I think mothers are different.  Yes, we trust our guts.  We also trust medical professionals, writers impersonating child-rearing experts and really old deli ladies who claim to have successful offspring.  We’re hard-wired to look beyond ourselves in search of answers.  Call it an innate desire to get this whole Mommy thing exactly right.  Or a natural affinity for being attuned to the metaphysical workings of the universe.  Take your pick.  I’m good either way.

As I so subtly suggested in an earlier post this week, I was raised Catholic.  Not the real kind.  My mother favored the ‘Damn, I’m so busy I can barely keep my head on straight, but this is important, and you people need some kind of solid foundation to make a decision about religion, and I need back up on the whole no-lying-stealing-premarital sex thing, so for Christ’s sake we’re at least going to church on Christmas and Easter‘ version of Catholicism.  I can relate. 

My point is, I prayed before becoming a mother.  God and I chatted on a semi-regular basis.  About tests I didn’t study for, acne I didn’t like and boys I did.  And because I clocked enough time in Catholic school to know that God quits tuning into your channel if all you do is gripe, I tried hard to be grateful.  “God, Vanilla Ice is a hot mess. I am so glad I’m not a rapper. Thank you.

But since I set sail on the Good Ship MomNPop, God and I have been getting together a lot more frequently.  Like daily.  In the early years, my prayers took on the appearance of frantic pleading.  “Please God, just give me four straight hours of sleep.  I can do anything on four hours.  I swear.” 

If I was particularly desperate but concerned that the Big Guy might be too busy with other things — like you know, war in the Middle East or hostile pockets of frustrated Hari Krishnas assaulting travelers with wilted flowers — I’d try to back-door my request, just to get it on the list for later. 

Sweet Mother of God, the kid is biting.  PEOPLE.  He’s on the verge of being expelled from daycare, and if that happens, I’m going to have to quit my job and stay at home.  I don’t think I can do it.  I’m not like those mothers.  They’re strong.  They have better gag reflexes for the whole ‘rinsing out the crappy underwear in the toilet’ thing.  I’m sure Jesus wasn’t a biter, but could you just help me out here? I NEED to work.”

Over the years, my relationship with all beings holy has evolved.  I still pray frequently.  Out of gratitude, relief, frustration, and blind rage that I fear may lead me to lease the little people out to young, unmarried couples who are blasé about birth control.  But today, there are a lot more every day invocations.

“Good God in Heaven, is there even a possibility that you could flush this poop down the toilet after you use it?  This is unsanitary.  And it’s grossing me out!” (Yes, we’re still in the ‘poopy’ portion of the program.)

So help me God if you touch your brother one more time, we will strap you to the roof until we get to Grandma’s house. I am not even kidding.

I swear to the Sweet Virgin Mary, if I come in this room one more time and find a mix of clean and dirty clothes scattered about the floor like a modern art display, I will stop doing laundry.  Forever.  You can go to school in your underwear.”

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph help me.  PLEASE just…[insert one] brush your teeth/go to bed/get up/get dressed/eat your breakfast/stop getting those red lights and letters on your weekly conduct report…”  Yeah, that list kind of goes on and on.

Overall, the Powers that Be have been good to me.  But I am starting to think I’ve got to be a bit more judicious with the invocations.  Or they’ll shift their focus back to Britney and Lindsay.  Because you know, those girls are a hot mess too.

I’ve got a grip on Guilt…A nice tight one.

Wicked Witch of the West (aka Guilt)

Guilt is a witch.  Yes, generally I like to keep things light and tidy around here, but honest-to-southern-dust, there is no other word for her.  She is a certifiable, pointy-hat-wearing, broomstick driving, warty-faced stalker.  And I oughta know. 

I first met Guilt when I was 7 years old, at a party thrown by Irish nuns in the basement of Sacred Heart Cathedral.  The theme for this little soiree was ‘Preparation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.’  There was no wine (which frankly, I found odd), but there were definitely streamers.  And talk of white veils and shiny shoes, so I was totally in. 

At the time, framed by the glow of candlelit tissue paper pom-poms, Guilt seemed grating but relatively harmless. I mean, she called a lot during my teens and 20s, but when the chips were down, I could ignore her. 

Until I became a mother. 

Now Guilt is the naggiest little 3-year-old on the planet, chatting incessantly in my ear and lurking around every corner with a spray can full of industrial-strength ‘you suck.’   I’m not looking for pity.  Or the number for the suicide hotline.  I’m just trying to set the stage for a fun-filled, and oh-by-goddess (hopefully) interactive episode of ‘True Confessions.’   

Haven’t you ever wished you had some nice virtual friend to whom you could spill your parental guts?  Well, here’s your chance.  I’ll go first.  And if at the end, you could just do that little crossy thing with your hand and tell me to go in peace, I’d appreciate it.  I’m parochially-programmed to believe anyone that even remotely acts like they’ve got God on speed dial. 

So here we go…I’d like to start you off easy with something like, “I feel guilty for using the pretty, personalized return address labels from St. Jude’s without sending any money help cure kids with cancer,” but we’ve got eight years worth of ground to cover and not a lot of time to do it before one of us gets distracted. 

Stay with me until the end and I promise to be the Almighty Absolver for you too.  I’m really good at it.  We used to role play in the church basement.

10 Things I Am REALLY Sorry About:

  1. My inability to control a raging case of postpartum Tourette’s Syndrome that may or may not have had me nose-to-nose with a 10-week-old infant, frantically screeching, “What the @*$% do you WANT from me?!”  (Go on, say you never did it.  I won’t believe you.  Actually, I probably would. And it would make me feel worse. Which is just what Guilt wants.  Hag.)
  2. Seriously considering and maybe even writing more than one eBay listing to sell cute, but almost constantly wailing babies to the highest bidder. 
  3. Calling my mother to tell her that “I know why people shake their babies.”  (The first three months are hard, people.)
  4. Many failed attempts at self-editing that have resulted in requests for small people to “put a sock in it.” (See #1 for more info on how this got started.)
  5. Dropping my son off at school 2 minutes late.  For the 26th time this year.  Yes, I have issues with promptness.  Sister Marianne would tell me that not correcting this behavior indicates a lack of genuine remorse, which therefore means I cannot be forgiven.  Nuns are total hard-asses.
  6. Pulling dirty soccer jerseys out of the hamper, conducting cursory spot removal and passing them off as clean.  I’m fairly certain that while this does not constitute a direct breach of the 9th Commandment, it’s still a lot like lying.
  7. Agreeing with ‘someone’ that their cough could…might even definitely be… some awful cold that can only be cured by a half-dose of Benadryl.  Even when I know it’s not true.  Just to get the little person to go to BED, already!!  (Please do not call Child Services, this only happened once.  Three times, tops.  But ‘someone’ survived just fine and probably got the first three good nights of sleep she’s had since birth.  In her own bed.)
  8. ‘Misplacing’ one child or the other for anywhere from 5 seconds to 15 minutes at a stretch at Sears, Target, the water park and the soccer field.  Those little suckers are quick, I tell you.
  9. Agreeing with the youngest child that perhaps a new family is in order.  And offering my services to help her find one.  Tonight.  NOT after a healthy dinner and a good night’s sleep.
  10. Backing over my oldest child with the SUV and maiming him for life on my way to get him at the bus stop.  No, not really.  But I think about it every time I leave the driveway to pick him up.  And for a split-second the guilt, fear and heartbreak are so rawly present that it kind of seems real.  (How’s THAT for taking maternal guilt and paranoia to all new heights?)

There.  I feel much better.  Your turn.  (WAIT!  You did do the crossy thing with your hand, right?  Because I already said like five Hail Marys and one especially sincere Act of Contrition.)

Annual Performance Review (aka Mother’s Day)

I have to be honest, given the comments I received during last year’s performance review, I approached Mother’s Day 2010 with trepidation.  I mean, “I love you even when you yell at me” (Griffin, 2009) is not exactly a glowing assessment.  Even if it is just a slightly modified version of the assurance I regularly deliver when they’ve pushed the button clearly marked, ‘Mommy Harpie: Activate at Your Own Risk.” 

You see, when I applied for this job, I was under the impression that once annually the little people I carried, birthed and have subsequently bathed, fed, clothed and loved, would overlook my occasional fall from maternal grace and throw me a bone.  Preferably one wrapped in colorful tissue paper with a tag reading, “To the best Mommy EVER.”  Not so.  Kids give it to you straight every time, my friend.  So if you’re looking for a stellar review, it’s best to let them have ring pops before dinner, at least in the week preceding your evaluation. 

So anyway, the 2010 ratings came in yesterday, and let me tell you, I am still wiping the stick of ring pop from my cheek and heaving a sigh of relief.  Turns out, with commitment, dedication and patience rivaling that of Mother Teresa, it IS possible to achieve the rank of ‘Top Performer.’  Witness the evidence: 

Griffin's Mother's Day Card, 2010

Exhibit A (From Griffin): I do read a lot, but I'm guessing he was running out of fine attributes to list here.

Griffin's Mother's Day Letter 2010

Exhibit B (From Griffin): In case you can't read it, it says Marvelous, Outstanding, Terrific, Halarias, Extra Ordinary at writing, Respectful Mother. In the whole wide world. I wonder, did he mean extraordinary or extra ordinary?

 

Mother's Day flowers from Addison

Exhibit C (From Addison): Step off, Martha Stewart. The four-year-old made these with her own "one hand." From pipe cleaners and construction paper. Boo-yah.

 

Addison's Mother's Day Card 2010

Exhibit D (From Addison): The fingerprints poem gets me every time.

And finally… 

Addison's Mother's Day Letter 2010

Exhibit E (From Addison): Is there any more to know, really?

All jokes aside, I had a lovely Mother’s Day replete with kisses, hugs and a veritable plethora of kind words uttered lovingly on my behalf.  The husband (bless him) even offered up a mani-pedi-massage combo complete with his own assessment.  I believe his exact words during the dinner toast were, “I am grateful to have such a..blah, blah…wonderful family…blah, blah, and beautiful wife who is such an excellent mother to my children.”   It just doesn’t get much better than that, does it? 

So tell me, please, how was your Mother’s Day?  I hope it was as divine as mine.  If not, don’t dismay.  Those people usually come around in 4-8 years.  And when they finally do, it’s worth the wait.

Getting your game on: An NFL primer for new fathers

If at any point in the last 24-48 hours you found yourself narrowly avoiding a collision with a formula can (or breast pump) moving at mach speed past your head, you are a new father.  Congratulations!  Welcome to the miraculous and joy-filled game of Parenthood. 

Please note: The NFL (National Father’s League) does not sponsor, endorse or condone training camp for rookies, so strap on your pads and prepare for orientation on living the dream, dude. 

Understand the environment.  In all probability, conditioning to reach your current state of athletic prowess has involved extensive participation in this or other sports (e.g, dating and/or marriage).  You are no doubt versed in the basic tenets of the game.  But this is prime time, buddy, and let me clue you in:  you aren’t in Cornhusker country anymore.  You are standing on a field in a stadium filled with no fewer than two dozen screaming fans and an enraged quarterback who is, make no mistake, also the head coach.  They will turn on you in a second if you drop the ball.  

Acknowledge your fear, and find a way to make it work for you. For new players, the transition from the relative-predictability of college ball (marriage) to the pros (family life) can evoke a full range of complex and often overlapping emotions.  Yes, feelings.  Get used them, they’re going to be hanging around for awhile.   Chief among these feelings is fear.  Particularly during the first game.  When the ‘fight or flight’ response kicks in, be prepared to man up or suffer the wrath of a particularly terrifying defensive lineman known as ‘The Mother-in-Law.’ 

Pregame analysis.  Before we get to the good stuff — the stuff that will keep you upright and intaking air until the end of the game — allow us to address a few concerns: 

  • The QB’s ‘weight issue’:  Sure, the chick throwing the passes is carrying a little extra weight due to over-excessive, off-season binge eating.  But with proper support and encouragement from you, she can and will snap back into some semblance of her prime form. If she does not, make like Michael Vick and LIE. Convincingly. 
  • The ball (your baby) is crucial to the game, but you can’t play without a team.  Let me reiterate:  Quarterbacks need receivers every bit as much as they need the ball.  However, balls (in this particular instance) are small, helpless and require 24/7 care. Transforming yourself into a like being will not get you the same level of attention or adoration.  It will get you smothered with a stack of rancid jocks.

Getting your game on.  This is the important part, so put down the Blackberry and beer and pay attention.   The handy nuggets below represent the new game plan.  Get on board, and you will be the guy catching the game-winning pass with two seconds left to go in the Super Bowl of Domestic Bliss.  Trust me, the crowd will go wild. 

1.   When the ball is delivered onto the field, act impressed.  Your team leader has labored anywhere from 8 to 24 hours to deliver a bright, shiny, perfect new football in order for you to get your game on.  The least you can do is act impressed.  Shed a tear, for God’s sake.  Or at least look like you’re fighting one back.  Tell her she’s beautiful.  Or that you can’t believe the team was lucky enough to have scouted and effectively drafted an athlete with such grace and cut-throat competitive instincts. (See also: push presents.  Quarterbacks like shiny stuff. Especially on Mother’s Day.) 

Mother's Day is Sunday, May 9. Yes, this Sunday. Dust off your credit card, Daddy.

You can thank us for this public service announcement later.

2.  Know your role.  The economy has hit everyone hard.  Fans are dispersed all over the country and just can’t support the game like they used to.  So we’re gonna need you to pick up a little slack.  This does not mean you get to assume the role of head coach.  When you pass a football through your urethra, you can call the shots, my friend.  Until then, know that in addition to kicking and receiving, you get to be head cheerleader (cute skirt not included), custodian and head concession cook.  That’s right…I said COOK.  This involves gathering ingredients and heating them to a temperature that kills bacteria.  If you are unfamiliar with how to execute this activity, call your mother.  Or take a class.  The days of some cute, tight-t-shirt-wearing desperate housewife waiting for you at the table with a hot meal are over.  At least for now. 

3.  Anticipate the routes.  Your Quarterback does not need ‘help.’  (No matter what her current hormone levels may indicate.)  She needs a TEAM PLAYER.  Cheerful compliance is a good thing.  But to win, you’ve got to anticipate the plays.  Ask questions.  And when you’re on the way to practice, call and see if she needs anything.  Like formula.  Or lunch.  Or Valium.  Execute effectively here and… 

4.  You…could…go…ALL…THE…WAY!  Yes, if you play hard and adhere to the game plan outlined above you will eventually score.  Again.  Someday.  Just remember, the rules of this game are different.  On your mad dash to the end zone, don’t forget to secure the ball.  Preferably into a high chair with a chocolate-frosted brownie or on the couch with an action-packed episode of Spongebob.  The ball’s attention span is short, so keep in mind that you may only have 11-16 minutes to undertake the entire process from the time the Quarterback calls the play until you’re doing your ultra-cool Super Bowl shuffle.  Pay attention.  Act quickly.  And don’t even THINK about uttering the word ‘nightie’ or assessing the pattern of hair growth on the QB’s legs.   That’s not even a little bit funny.

%d bloggers like this: