Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Too much of a good thing...

Look, I have no issue with the long-standing tradition of presents under the tree.  Gift opening and seeing the joy on your children's faces, not to mention the magic involved in the gifts spontaneously appearing on Christmas morning should be cherished.

However. HowEVER.

No child needs 30 Christmas presents from Santa.  No child needs 30 presents at all. But I'm afraid that estimate is on the low end of what most children in our area will be receiving for Christmas.

I sat down and did the baffling assessment this year of how much my children stand to gain from the Christmas holiday.  Three sets of grandparents.  Two great grandmas. Three sets of aunts and uncles.  Two very generous first cousins, once removed.  If each of these entities only get our children one gift (which, by the way, they probably won't) my children will have 11 gifts right there. Counting the fact that my husband and I want to give the children each a gift (a batgirl costume and a minecraft lego, respectively) that brings their  my kids' gift total up to 12.

We've been begging and pleaded with our relatives to get our children NOTHING or give the gift of an outing. The grandma who grew up in poverty gave me a puzzled look and then went off and probably bought them a car. One sporting grandma agreed to give a coupon to take the kids to lunch and a movie which filled my heart with joy but I later found out she bought the kids a bounce house. But it's going to stay at her house, she reasoned, so it really doesn't count.

So, clearly, the grandparents cannot be contained.  The aunts and uncles gently asked me/guilted me to not suck the joy out of their hearts by denying them the privilege of picking out toys for the kids while they are still young.

So maybe I can't control the people in my family, but my husband and I can certainly control ourselves.

I had to say something to the kids. I had to do something to stop them from coming to expect piles of presents from Santa under the tree. I don't want my children surrounded by piles of THINGS when so many go without and nor do I want to raise entitled little brats.   I don't have a bigger house than I need. Half the furniture in our house is second-hand (repurposed is the trendy word). We are not wasteful people. And I didn't want to throw all that to the wind because a fictional fat guy in velvet suit was going to squeeze through my chimney bearing gifts.

So I sat down with them and we talked about the two families we had helped to "adopt" to assist them with buying Christmas gifts...one through the Salvation Army Angels program and one from my WINGS group.  And I lectured them about waste and giving back to others and how things will never love you back and I reminded them of the meltdown Mommy had last year when she realized the giant mound of plastic and paper that all the toy packaging had generated. And how it would all never decompose and be stuffed into poor Mother Earth indefinitely.

"Santa's NOT COMING?!" my son immediately went to DefCon 5, as is his way.

"I was GOOD!  Ask that elf!" Little D insisted.

"No, no," I hurriedly assured them. "You were very good.  Santa is definitely coming.  But he's not going to bring you a ton of gifts this year. Just a couple."

"Why?" Big A wanted to know.

"I think because you're very lucky and you have so much family around you to give you gifts.  And some kids have less family and less money to spend on gifts." That was my response.

"So if we get less, other kids can get more?"  Big A questioned.

"Yes," I said, even though that probably wasn't true.

"Do you know what communism is? I believe mommy is trying to illustrate it. " my husband interjected.   I shushed him.

"It's not that," I tired to explain to the kids what I was feeling myself. "It's just that...for Santa to bring you piles of gifts...when you have so much already...and you're getting even more gifts from your extended family...well, it all seems like a bit much, right?"

Big A looked at me thoughtfully while Little D climbed onto my husband's head, as she often does.

"I think...that would be greedy." Big A came up with.

Paydirt.

"Exactly!" I was relieved he was getting it.

"But..will Santa still bring me a Mario Microworld?" he asked hopefully.

"And my basketball shirt?" Little D piped up.

"Probably, if you're good." I exhaled...glad that they didn't seem phased by getting less gifts from Santa this year.

"So, I still get a few gifts from Santa but just not a pile up to the ceiling or near the ceiling?" Big A clarified.

"Yes." I responded.

"Like how many?" he prodded.

"I don't know," I said. "But remember how many gifts you're getting from all your aunts and uncles and grandparents?  You guys are incredibly lucky to have such loving relatives"

They both seemed okay about it.  And my husband and I agreed that Santa would bring them each three gifts  (A Ghostbusters lego set, the Mario World and an Emmett alarm clock for our son and a soccer ball, basketball shirt and mechanical butterfly for our daughter).  I was glad I managed their expectations and I felt lighter just knowing we'd be generating less waste and consuming less things.

Even though I often feel unsuccessful, I'm not just trying to raise kids here. I'm trying to raise decent adults. And the sooner we can teach them that our society's warped obsession with accumulating things is NOT the path to satisfaction, peace or happiness the better off we will be.

When I think back to my happiest Christmas memories from childhood, very few of them involve gifts.  I remember my mom putting on Frank Sinatra's Christmas record as we decorated the house. I remember my Dad screaming "Pivot! Pi-VAHT!" as my sisters and I dissolved in laughter as we tried to help him bring in the tree.  Hiding the baby Jesus.  Snuggling with my sisters drinking hot chocolate and watching Rudolph. My mom's amazing German cold cut breakfasts.  Seeing my grandparents admire our Christmas dresses.  Sitting with my mom on the living room couch when she (finally) stopped serving people and sat down for a few moments of peace as we listened to opera with the lights dimmed, the Christmas tree twinkling away.  The house filled with the laughter, eating, music and conversation of our family.

I want to create that for my kids. And, believe it or not, I want to watch their faces light up when Santa brings them just what they were hoping for.  But toning it down to something reasonable and less excessive has brought me a lot of peace this holiday season.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

All Good Gifts

With no sarcasm whatsoever, I can freely admit that I adore the Christmas season!  In addition to fact that we celebrate the birth of someone who died so that we may all have eternal life, there's the added benefit that overconsumption of both wine and cookies is not only accepted as the norm, but it's encouraged as well! It's like...if you're not drinking a bottle of Pinot Noir each day and scarfing down a plate of unwitting gingerbread men, people look at you like there's something wrong with you. 

I love listening to Christmas carols, particularly the traditional religious ones like George Michael's  "Last Christmas" and that one by The Waitresses where they both forgot "cranberry" and end up falling in love at the all-night grocery.   And in all seriousness Bing Crosby's "Christmas Waltz" always makes me feel sentimental, giving me an almost irresistible urge grab someone both homely and lonely and mercy smooching them under the mistletoe.

And then there's the task of moving our creepy elf who is plotting to kill us.

There's nothing I like about this part of Christmas. 

But one thing I do love is remembering the meaning of Christmas, which is Christ's sacrifice for us, and whether you're a Christian or not, whether you believe in the guy in the sky or the pie in the sky, there is no human being that doesn't believe in gratitude.  So moreso than Thanksgiving, (when I spend my time avoiding the dry, tasteless meat that is turkey)  the Christmas season makes me remember all the things for which I am thankful.  So here's my list.

 In no particular order, I am grateful for:

1. The 2015 Ford Explorer.  (And no, they are not paying me to plug their brand).  It kept my twin sister safe when she was in a terrible car crash just hours before she delivered her twin infants by emergency C-section. 

2. My brand new niece and nephew.  They are healthy and strong and I very pleased to report that, unlike most newborns, they do not resemble plucked chickens.  I am also grateful that every time Little T makes a face it looks just like the bald guy from The Princess Bride and we all yell "INCONCEIVEABLE!"  I am also grateful for my not-so-new but equally fabulous older niece and nephew who I love like my own kids with the addition of getting to spoil them rotten and having never to discipline them.

3. My children.  When they're not trying to slowly and skillfully make me lose my mind, they are treasure troves of wonderfulness, but specifically I love how Big A is such a gentle soul and a loving, loyal friend.  Every time I see some little shit bullying a smaller child, I'm grateful that although God made Big A physically huge, my little man has come equipped with sweet nature and a conscious.  I am grateful that my daughter is so tough but also has a voice like one of the munchkins from The Wizard of Oz and is BFFs with her grandmother. I also love that she is the nosiest person in the universe and DOESN'T MISS A TRICK.  At three years old, she's already questioning Santa's toy manufacturing practices.

4.  My sisters.  They are simply the best and I can't write more in a public blog without making everyone uncomfortable.  I would be a (bigger) mess without their love and support. There are two of my greatest blessings.  All I'll say is we could quote the entire movie of Teen Witch.  Well, two of us can.

5. My mom and dad, whose love knows no boundaries. And nor does their every day interactive skills. But one day I will miss them dropping by the house for no reason, gassing up my car when I didn't ask them to, buying me stuff from Cost-co and coming over to tape all the tablecloths down to the tables before I throw an outdoor party. In all honestly, they are the best parents anyone could ask for and the lucky bastard that won the parent jackpot happened to be me.   And you are the gold standard of grandparents!  Your love for my little critters knows no bounds. (Mom, I know Dad will never read this so can you please paraphrase and leave out the cuss words?)  Thanks for putting up with me.

6.  My friends. I adore the love and laughter you funnel into my life.  Whether we met in high school, connected at WINGS or were forced together because of our kids (realizing with some delight that we actually liked each other and play dates were about to become much less tedious) I am very lucky to know such warm, loving women and men.   And one amazing person whose gender I am still not sure about but still, we make it work.

7.  My husband.  I am grateful that he never comes home, flops on the couch and pops open a beer. I love that he has a passion for life and is so down-to-earth and authentic. I love that he has never actually used the word "authentic". I love that he is so tender with the kids. I love that he  tells me he loves me and I am beautiful even when I'm drinking an entire bottle of wine and a eating a platter of cookies, often at the same time.  I love that we laugh together and occasionally, have cried together.

So, of my list of the 7 things I am grateful for this holiday season, one was an automobile and the other 6 were people.

Cheers to that! Pass the eggnog.  And the cookies.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sweet Lies

There's a sweet mom that always comes to my daughter's gymnastics class exceedingly late.

Even for a mom, she always seems disheveled.  (And that is coming from me, someone who is never in a cute pair of J. Crew green skinny pants and doesn't wear lipstick because simply, I often have no idea where my make-up bag is.)  This mom has three kids under the age of 3 and she always wears a brown parka that does nothing for her sandy hair and light complexion. 

 The class begins at 10.  This past week, she was so late that she showed up at 10:32.   I want to describe the withering looks she got from the waiting room.  It was cold man, and I'm not talking about the wind chill factor. 

I want to be the first person to say I try very hard to get my children and myself to places on time.  Sometimes though, I fail. I do believe that if you're habitually late your life is out of control so I try not to be habitually late. I also find it annoying when someone I'm meeting is always late.  They know this. I tell them. I tell them that this must mean that their lives are out of control. Then they start coming on time.  It's like magic.

But that being said, Late Mom rushed in, hair flying willy nilly, kids covered in crumbs and juice stains and, of course, still wearing the unflattering brown parka. 

She said to the room "You know it's bad when your 2 year old tells you that you need to manage your time better!"

And there was silence.  And it hung there.  And it felt like judgment.   And I think we were all feeling rather smug because we had gotten our children to class on time. Certainly, we were all doing better than that mom least.  And then I saw that Late Mom looked really bummed out. And then I felt kind of ashamed because we were all silently patting ourselves on the back for getting our little kids to a class on time. Big fricking whoop.

There was a mom there who was basically putting out a bid for connection and we were all shaming her?  No one was throwing her a bone and the rather bitchy receptionist was even giving her a superior sort of look.

So I my book of Maeve Binchy essays aside, (which is a huge sacrifice since that hour in the waiting room without any kids is very precious to me) and, all in the name of being less of an asshole than I was being, I did what I do best.  I white lied.  I'm a great white liar, (it's sad but true) and lately I've started owning it. I learned this skill post-college, when white jeans were in and people were asking if they made their respective butts look big.

"I know, RIGHT?"  I yelled back at her.

She looked relieved that anyone was talking to her late, pariah self.  A smile flooded her cute, albeit caked-with-something face.

"It's like we were already so late...my daughter wanted a juice box, so I had to run back inside the house and get it....and then she wanted apple juice instead of grape juice...so I had to run back inside to switch it," she says.

Ohdearohdearohdear....

I squelched to urge to give her advice like "How about next time tell her either "no!" or "it's grape juice or the highway" and I remembered a time (perhaps many times) when I too, indulged my kids because I was just plain too tired for a fight.

" I hear ya, sister!"  I sang out. (My whole demeanor changes when I'm white lying. I sound like someone testifying in a gospel choir, I don't know why.)

"I'm embarrassed I'm so late, I am" She sort of fake-laughed nervously.

"Oh, come on! You're not late for your daughter's inauguration.  It's a tumbling class." I encouraged.

Cue very bitchy look zinging my way from receptionist.

"I know!" she said. "It's the same with the movies...it's like why do I need to get there on time?"

ohdearohdearohdear.  Because your arrival disrupts the entire movie? Because you miss all the previews which is the best part?

"I hear ya!" I say again.  Because that's what this was about.  She wanted to be heard 

This nice mom and I clearly didn't agree on our respective timetables, that was obvious. It was also certain she wasn't looking for advice on how to organize her life. (Not that I'm qualified to give any) But she was having a tough morning and reaching out for some reassurance. And if I couldn't extend my hand for 1 minute with a few kind words than really, what's the point?

It took me back to a time when I burst into tears outside my son's swim class, so horrible was my week.  The kids had been acting up, my husband was away and one of my book reviews had been criticized by a reader for being anti-feminist (as IF!)  One my friends told me her kids could be gargoyles also, her husband left a sopping wet towel on their down comforter that morning and people were crazy.  I was comforted.

Another mom we don't know that well piped in, "my kids have actually been behaving really well this week.  And my husband made me breakfast in bed today!" 

We don't sit with her anymore.

The point is if you have a choice between being a giant beeotch who thinks she's got it all together or a an empathic human being willing to connect, please go with the latter, especially if someone seems to be in need. 

Be kind, even if it means telling someone their white jeans don't make them look like a cannoli.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Have Mercy

From Vegas to church on Sunday in just in a matter of days.

Spending so much time indulging in the city of sin last week perversely caused me to want to go to church this past Sunday even though I hadn't been there in a while.   I gifted my husband with 3 hours of blessed solitude to go for a bike ride and I packed up the children to go to our church.  That sounds much easier than it is since my 3 year old Little D and I got into a huge argument because I wouldn't let her wear her Mets shirt and Big A insisted on bringing a tiny Minecraft figure that would surely somehow end up in the collection plate.

But we made it, (with time to spare!) and collapsed into the pew along my parents.  My mom immediately began doling out tictacs which annoyed me because she should really wait until the sermon for that kind of thing when the kids get really antsy. Daphne opened her mouth wide to smugly show me the dissolving contraband Grandma had given her and promptly dropped a hymnal on the floor.

We got through the prayer of the day without incident but during a quiet moment of reflection during the Gospel Big A stage whispered "IS THIS ALMOST OVER YET?"  It wasn't.  And then Little D dropped a hymnal again.   During the sermon, where the pastor made a reference to Great Expectations I enjoyed immensely, I began to feel peace in my heart.  Then Little D dropped a hymnal again. I noticed Big A's finger kept scratching his nose in such a way that he was itching to pick it and I rooted around in my bag for a Kleenex.  Then during another moment of quiet reflection Little D dropped a hymnal again.

I took away the hymnal.

We sang the Hymn of the Day, but I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing since my 6 year old was belting it out and even trilling his Rs, a la the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz. I have no inkling why he was singing that way but I was distracted because Little D had now bamboozled Grandma into giving her more orange tictacs. Big A stage whispered during the prayers "WHEN IS COFFEE HOUR?  DO YOU THINK THEY'LL HAVE BROWNIES?" instead of "Help us, oh Lord!" and I could have sworn he mumbled "Help us to have brownies at coffee hour today, oh Lord" but I can't prove it.  When the choir sang, quite beautifully, Little D showed her distaste by covering her ears with her hands.  "Where is all this music coming from?"  Big A wondered and I tried to silently point towards the pipe organ. 

The kids started slumping down in the pew, emulating a posture I remember well from my own childhood and when communion came I was glad that they'd get to stretch their legs a bit. But imagine my surprise when the pastor offered my son communion wine. 

"No!"  I objected.

"Yes, please!" he insisted.

To my relief she didn't give him the blood of Christ but imagine my surprise when Big A grabbed my near-empty plastic cup I was about to throw away and chugged the rest down.  My cheeks flaming I dragged them back to my seats, wondering why I put myself through this.

From what I've noticed, kids get really bored in church.  That's why I lobbied successfully to have Sunday happen during the majority of the service.   But this particular day there was no Sunday School and thus, no real way to make the Parable of the Bridesmaids and Their Lamps relatable to kids.

When we finally got down to coffee hour and the kids plates were heaped with bagels, fruit and the coveted brownies, I tried to explain the gospel to them in a way they could understand.

"Are you glad you came with me to church today?" I asked Big A.

"Definitely!" he said.

"Really?" I said, somewhat touched that this all wasn't lost on him.

"Oh, yeah," he said "If I hadn't come with you to church today, I wouldn't be here munching on this delicious brownie."

True story.

But I will not give up despite what can be an incredibly embarrassing and seemingly futile endeavor.  I will continue taking the kids to church, because I want to expose them to a place where I've found a lot of joy and peace throughout my life.  I'm sorry it's boring at times, (and truthfully my mind wanders off occasionally also) but I ultimately think proving a church life and a church family for my children is incredibly important.

Even if it inadvertently starts them drinking wine at an early age.     

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Childless in Vegas

I don't miss the kids.

My hub and I head to Vegas for our yearly jaunt where he works for 3 days and I generally have no responsibility whatsoever.  The drive to airport was like a vacation in itself...there were no children in the backseat asking me for juice and requesting I tell an umpteenth story.

On the plane, my hub and I grew playful with each other in the way we usually reserve for the kids  We ordered two cocktails and my husband began a conversation between his empty gin bottle and my empty rum bottle. The woman next to us looked disgusted. We played hangman, using all our inside jokes.  The woman next us changed her expression from disgusted to revolted. Then we cheesily listened to Bob Marley and Neil Diamond songs, sharing one set of headphones, one ear bud in each of our ears.  The woman next to us vomited into her air bag. 

I read two books and laughed out loud, People I Want to Punch in the Throat and Spoiled Brats.  I didn't have to take any children to the bathroom or share the peanut M&Ms I had stowed away in my bag and when my sister, sitting two rows behind, handed me a People Magazine I didn't have to explain to my children why, as Big A says of the skin-baring fashions "all the ladies look like they're naked"

Then we checked into our hotel, the Palazzo, and while all the other adults seemed to be numb to it's beauty I was amazed by the fountain, the sculpture, the giant floating leaves and giant pears dangling from the ceiling. Clusters of empty green wine bottles were hung from each tree in clumps and the fountain tinkled away, nearly begging for me to throw in a penny.

I really missed the kids.  They would be in awe of this lobby. They would be amazed and inspired by fruit bigger than a couch and twirling, sparkling leaves seemingly suspended in mid air. They would freak out to see wine bottles growing on trees.  I began to sniffle. 

"I wish that Big A and Little D were--"

"Don't even say it!" Big G interrupted.  It's 11 o'clock their time. Vegas is not the place for them."

My husband left to meet with some clients right after we got settled in the room and  I ordered room service, including a daring bowl of new England clam chowder. I was wondering if maybe I had gotten over my shellfish allergy. What happens in Vegas...

As it turns out I am still allergic to shellfish. 

I was so glad the kids weren't there with me to see the rushing tidal waves of clams and cream, along with a tomato mozzarella salad exit my body the exact way it came in.  Vegas, baby.  Go big or go home.

The next morning I do something I never do at home. I wake up and go to the gym with my big sister,. How different than sneaking out to go for a run before my littlest one wakes up and wants to snuggle the desire to exercise right out of me.   We work out, my sister cracking up at me as I sing too loudly along with the music, drop her iPod off the treadmill, not once but twice, and try to mimic her weight lifting moves.

Now I have the whole day to myself.  It will be 10 hours before I talk to anyone I know again at a cocktail party my husband's company throws for his clients.  While I love the community of close friends in my life, I actually also enjoy being alone. I mean, I'm always hearing "That Natty...she's great company!" and I am usually the one saying it. 

So I book some spa treatments and I'm happy, once again, that the kids aren't here to run screaming through my relaxation time or whine the zen right out of me.  But then I visit the Bellagio gardens and the fountains and I wish the kids could be with me to enjoy them.  I visit the Leonardo DiVinci exhibit and think that my 6 year old would have loved it.  I go gamble and I'm happy, once again, I'm not looking after a wayward 3 year old in a dark smoky casino in the city of sin.  We go out to a club and I drink my face off.    Now I'm hungover for the first time in years and I am so ridiculously glad the children aren't here to make any noise that could exacerbate the jackhammer noises my brain is making all on it's own.

So I miss the kid and I don't miss the kids. It's not an either/or, it's a both/and.  I'm happy to escape for a couple of days once a year, content and at peace that my children are happily being spoiled by their grandparents.  But I miss having them around since they are generally my constant companions, and let's face it, they may be sticky but I actually like those little buggers.

I call them.  They are having a ball with Grandma probably doing taboo yet Grandparent-sanctioned activities like eating Skittles or playing on an iPad for three hours or slogging through the indoor playground at Burger King or probably all three at the same time.

They come on the line.  I hear there gorgeous voices and I miss them so much I want to climb through the phone and squeeze them. My children, in return, talk to me for a fraction of a second, saying what sounds to me like a very phoned-in "I miss you, Mommy!" before dashing off with laughter, presumably to get back to their Pixie Sticks.   

The kids clearly do not miss me.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Girl I Got

Dear Little D:

You are turning 3 this weekend.  How did that happen?  I remember when you were born and we barely made in to the hospital in time.  My main memory is in the parking garage of the hospital, biting your father's shoulder through his green padded vest because the pain was so bad.  You shot out, literally with on time for no epidural or even an IV, soaking Dr. M's brand new Nikes because there was no time for shoe covers.  I actually called Grandma and when she asked "Did you get a room sweetie?" I was like "It's done.  She's here." You came into this world at lightning speed and you haven't stopped since.

I was so happy to have a daughter, especially one as charming as you.  You were a great sleeper and then you weren't.  You had a smile that took over your whole perfect face.  You were constantly stroking my hand, really anyone's hand, and you loved to snuggle.  You crawled at 6 months and walked at nearly ten and I forgave you for all that and the fact that you can scale counters, dressers and closets like a little spider with suction cups for hands.

I dreamed of all the things were would do together.  You would love to dress up like a princess and we'd play Barbie and I'd get to put bows in your hair.  If only I had discussed my expectations with you before deciding on this, I would be much less surprised right now. You, even at age three, insist on wearing your Mets shirt and old mesh shorts belonging to your brother.  You ask to wear this ensemble every day.  You fight me every time I suggest your wear a dress. You gave away your Barbies because, as you say, "she stinks" and you refuse to let me put bows in your hair. I can't believe it.  Your one concession to anything in your hair is headbands like that terrible glow-in-the-dark one that Aunt Vicky got you from Justice.

You are not the girl I thought I'd be getting when I learned I was having a girl.  When people say you are beautiful you frown and say "No!" as if it's an insult.  I've stopped calling things pretty and started calling them "awesome" because there's a higher chance you might like them.   You love things that are "cool" and "rock and roll".  You took the play ironing board I got you, ripped off the legs and took it into the shower with you so you could surf, like Daddy.

No, Little D...you are not what I expected in a daughter and yet you are so much more.  You are as tough as you are compassionate. When it thunders you worry "Will Big A get home from school safely?  Is Daddy inside at work?"  You notice everything. You can already do the monkey bars and learned to pump your own swing when you turned 2.   You are definitely cool, cooler than I could ever be since I love to wear dresses (the more ruffles the better) and I collect teapots.  I've never seen a more fiercely loyal sister to your big brother and you are always talking about "our family" and how much it means to you.  You have only 4 friends you really like and you speak constantly about your love for them.  You're not a sweet little girl who plays with baby dolls and loves adorable dresses but you are a force to be reckoned with and it will serve you well one day.

I'm sorry I tried for so long to put a bow in your hair against your will.  It really doesn't matter if you wear a bow or not, I see that now. I'm sorry for the times I tried to convince you that the pale pink smocked pinafore was "rock and roll" when we both know it isn't.  I'm sorry for all the times I tried to get you to watch Dora even though you kept insisting "This is terrible."  You were right, it is.  I'm sorry for how excited I am that purple is your favorite color.  It's the only truly traditionally "girly" thing about you.

But -- thank you so much for being so different than a typical girly girl.  Thanks for being here to remind me to accept and support people as they are, not as I'd like them (or society expects them) to be.  I'm working hard to encourage you to be you, like in Little Miss Sunshine when Toni Colette  encouraged everyone to "Let Olive be Olive." I want you to know that while it was jarring at first to discover I have a tomboy for a daughter I accept you fully.

So Happy Birthday to you, my dynamo of a girl.  I got you the Etch-a-Sketch and the new Mets shirt you asked for and not the Strawberry Shortcake collection I so desperately wanted to buy you.  Or the Elsa doll, in which you have no interest.  Or My Little Ponies.  Seriously, it's cool. 

Thanks for being the living embodiment of everything that matters.  Thanks for making me realize how anti-feminist I was being by expecting you to like all the toys geared towards girls.  You should play with and wear whatever you please.   

And if your first three years are any indication you're on your way to being a strong, determined,  loving happy person and a hell of an athlete.  And I love you, just as you are.  Now let's clink our tea cups together and cheers to that!  Oh, you're running away to inspect your worm collection.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Facebook faux pas

I like Facebook for a number of reasons (one of which being it's a great way to pepper my friends with my weekly musings on this blog). 

But because don't live in a house made of lollypops at the end of a rainbow, I'm also aware that many people use Facebook to brag about their lives.  But we all know that just because it's on Facebook doesn't make something true. (Case in point, my husband's new friend's wife looks amazingly skinny in all of her Facebook photos.  I girded my loins to meet this perfect specimen of womanhood only to behold that she has the biggest ass of anyone I've ever met. How did this not translate on Facebook? I was both shocked and delighted that she was actually human.)

But back to the bragging versus sharing when it comes to personal details.  If you've shared something, i.e.; "Check out my...pregnant twin sister....giant martini the size my head........muffin I baked that looks just like Obama"....it should make people smile.  When you brag something "Isn't my daughter just the cutest girl in the world, eveh?...Look, my son got another A+....future president!..I have the best hubby in the whole world, much better than yours!" people generally want to punch you in the throat. However, they are more likely to roll their eyes and knock you out of their newsfeed.

But one thing I never thought about, but now I think about is that some people post photos on Facebook with the added bonus of leaving people out.  I didn't realize this until a friend pointed it out to me, but now I do.  She shared how sad she feels when parents post pictures of kids' birthday parties on Facebook and her child isn't invited.

Gulp.

Guilty. 

I have been guilty of doing this in the past but you can bet my husband's friend's wife's ass I won't be doing it again.   When I posted pictures of my kids' birthday parties, it was more in the spirit of "look how awesome this cake is!" or "look how big my little boy is getting!" or even "look at all his adorable friends...surely he won't be up on the bell tower one day!"  I certainly didn't mean to make anyone feel left out, and yet in hindsight I'm sure that some people did.  Seriously, why didn't I just make it a private group?  Who wanted to see all those kids besides their own parents?  And probably Grandma, who could easily be added to a private photo album.

As our kids get older and both their (and our) social circles grow, the reality is that you can't always invite everyone.  It doesn't mean you're not friends or not friendly but seriously, do we need to rub it in each other's faces?  I tell my 6 year old son not to discuss any birthday parties he is attending on the bus or with other kids in his class because not everyone is always invited.  If we can impart such wisdom to our children, we can certainly reign in our out-of-control egos enough to restrain ourselves from putting certain things publicly on FB.  Just use a private album to share all the awesome pictures of the party with the only people who care, anyway -- the parents of the children who attended. 

So I've come up with a few rules of thumb that work for me. They may not work for you, but I've come up with them so I am never the cause of some little girl looking over her mom's shoulder on Facebook and exclaiming an anguished "Why wasn't I invited to Little D's birthday party!?" (Truthfully, because she only wants to invite her brother, her cousin and the plastic dog she calls Coco)

Family events such as pumpkin picking, cookie decorating or birthday parties are all fair game for public posting.  Kids' birthday parties where you didn't invite the whole class should perhaps be put in a private album. 

Church, sports or scouting events where everyone is welcome?  Post to the world! (You may even get more participants!)

Pictures of you in your boxers?  Please don't.

Pictures of Ryan Gosling in his boxers?  Early and often please.

The point is, I'm trying to carefully consider what I'm posting these days, before I post it.  If it's an attempt to make my life seem "oh so glamorous" (like I need to prove this...I have two small children and I'm a bookworm -- how much more rock n' roll can things get?!) or, more importantly, I think it will perhaps hurt someone's feelings, I probably will not be sharing it with the FB world.

Our FB posts, just like our actions, have consequences.  I will carefully consider my motivations in posting status updates and photos, especially when it could potentially leave someone feeling left out.  As left out as my husband's friend's wife's ass was in all of her FB photos. (But we all know she doesn't exist anyway and was just a construct invented for today's blog.)