Know Better, Do Better

 

 

 

ad·vo·cate

 [v. ad-vuh-keyt; n. ad-vuh-kit, -keyt]  Show IPA

 

verb (used with object), ad·vo·cat·ed, ad·vo·cat·ing.

1.

to speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly: He advocated higher salaries for teachers.
noun

2.

a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc. (usually followed by of ): an advocate of peace.

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I spend too much time on the internet. I have three tabs open right now so I can check my email, watch my Facebook notifications rack up and shop for new band shirts for the boys… while I blog. I run into a lot of characters online, and before I get started you should know, I like them all. Minus the trolls. Trolls divide us further and waste our time. But I like the rest of them, even the well meaning advocates that completely miss their mark.

Have you met these people? They have a cause and they are passionate about it. And I mean passionate. Their Facebook timeline is filled with daily memes and quotes and articles about the miracle of their chosen cause, or causes. For example, I post a metric shitton of stuff about coconut oil, vinegar and avocados. (A metric shitton is an actual unit of measurement I just invented equal to “many”) I threw out all of my store bought cleaners and hide the new ones The Barkeep keeps buying. I have spray bottles of vinegar water everywhere instead. I put it in my laundry. I take a shot of apple cider vinegar to clear my sinuses and use it to make salad dressing. I have coconut oil in my bathroom cupboard, the medicine cabinet and, of course, the kitchen. And I just really like avocados. They keep me full. They replace cheese when I’m doing well about skipping dairy. I am an advocate for these things. I want to inform other people about their benefits. You may recall I also love my cloth diapers (currently sitting unused thanks to all the chlorine in our water right now) and Baby Legs and wearing my babies. I feel strongly about these things and when they come up in conversation I try to control myself as I explain why.

I discovered most of these things online from other advocates. Advocating is a good thing. Sharing your passion is the best thing. I am an advocate for advocating. Do something. Spread the word, teach someone, show someone, just come down off of your high horse first and remember that you most likely weren’t born with this knowledge. And if you were, remember that not everyone came from your background, your income bracket, your side of town, your way of life. We are all learning, even as we advocate, and we should all be accepting of others who are learning at a different pace.

There are some things I feel strongly about that I’m not completely comfortable writing about in such a public format… yet. Sometimes when I present people with the facts about these things and they seem unimpressed, impassive or completely reject the facts, I want to pull my hair out. Then I remind myself, there was a time I was the same way. It’s hard to accept bold new information. They may have to hear it many times from many trusted sources. They may need to see it with their own eyes. They may just need time. They may never agree. This doesn’t mean a person is ignorant or uneducated. I mean, it doesn’t always mean that, I’m not trying to suggest you haven’t met some truly ignorant people, because I have. But not everyone who disagrees with you, no matter how “right” you are, is stupid. Wasting your time trying to convince them that they are is stupid.

I saw a lovely picture online of a father folding laundry while wearing his baby in a carrier. I went to comment and was shocked by the hateful comments before mine, referring to his carrier as a “crotch dangler” and calling him an idiot and a terrible father. Not only was this attack alarming to me, but so was the news that my carrier was actually a crotch dangler and could be harming my children. A “crotch dangler” is basically any forward facing carrier that makes the baby hang in front of you with it’s hips spread apart. This can overstimulate the baby and possibly cause medical issues. Many of the women commenting were claiming to be advocates of baby wearing, but I have to admit they turned me off of the idea for quite awhile. Something I once enjoyed became yet another reason to judge each other and call names. It made baby wearing seem complicated and only for a certain type of person, specifically snarky, know it all bitches. Thankfully I was added to a local baby wearing group on Facebook and discovered that was not (always) the case. I met actual advocates of baby wearing that would happily teach other parents what carriers worked best and how to use them.

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An advocate is a person who speaks for a cause, not against others. An advocate should be inclusive and strive to make others feel welcome to their cause, not alienate those with less or wrong information. That’s not advocating, that’s judging. Which is fine, do your thing, just call it what it is. You feel superior because you were informed first. Own it, just don’t call it advocating. It turns people off. If you want other people to join your cause, don’t be a jerk.  Now you know better and when you know better, you do better.

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Fakebook Confessions

Recently, this blog by Sarah Tuttle-Singer implored parents to stop telling lies on the internet and sparked  conversations all over the web. I love it. Not because I think we are lying to our friends, but because I love the reality of our lives. I want to see the reality of your day and I want to show you mine. We relate to each other and bond over our imperfections. I like to think I keep it pretty real online. I wrote a whole blog about feeding my kids macaroni for dinner. But, like everyone else, I also polish and sugarcoat quite a bit, too.

  • I was around in the days of MySpace and I have teenager daughters. I know about angles and I use them to create the perfect profile picture. I’m also proficient as using the crop feature to “clean the house” or chop off ten pounds. And my roots are so bad even Sharkboy knows they are tacky. He said, “Mommy, why is your hair all black up there and red and yellow down here? You can wear my hat outside.” That can be cropped off in pictures, too! If cropping doesn’t clean the house or hide my roots well enough I can use Instagram to hide the mess in the shadows.
  • Speaking of pictures, I take about one hundred pictures hoping to get one decent shot of my kids. I have begged them and bribed them to just please stand still for one minute. I used to hit myself over the head with things to make Sharkboy look at me. Little S will give me a model smile just long enough to get my hopes up and then dash away. For every picture I upload I have a dozen more of them running the other direction or clawing each other’s eyes out.

    A typical photo shoot with Sharkboy and Little S

    A typical photo shoot with Sharkboy and Little S

  • I love to brag about cute things the boys do to show each other love but I rarely mention that long before Sharkboy asked if he could sing Little S a lullaby he also asked if I would please put him to bed so he could do his puzzle alone.
  • I almost never discuss what it is like to live with two teenage girls, other than to say how lovely it is to have help with the boys since The Barkeep is gone so much. Do you know what it is like to live with two teenage girls when you are not a teenage girl? So. Much. Snark.
  • I blocked all of my friends’ friends that pissed me off during election season.
  • I hid a few of my own friends… they probably hid me, too.
  • I set all my app activity to private, hoping no one would notice I play SimCity Social.
  • I like bacon and Nutella… but not together and not as much as the internet wants me to. I really do love that maple bacon donut as much as I said I did, though.
  • For every one post you can see on my main newsfeed there are probably five others posted in private groups.
An evening out with The Barkeep according to Facebook

An evening out with The Barkeep according to Facebook

How it really went down ;)

How it really went down 😉

What are YOUR Facebook confessions? Post them on my Facebook page or find me on Twitter. Use the hashtag #nomorefakebook and be sure to stop be Kveller.com where it all started.

Your Baby Is Ugly And So Is Your Dinner

Recently The New York Times published this article about the unbaby.me web tool. Unbaby.me is a Google Chrome extension that will replace pictures of babies in your Facebook news feed with pictures of cats or something you find more pleasant. The article annoys me for a number of reasons and none of them the ones you would probably assume. I don’t care if you want to replace my kids’ pictures with pictures of sunsets and bacon but I’d prefer you just unfriend me and go meet people that post pictures of bacon. I over share but I rarely share pictures of bacon.

I don’t like the notion that parents are the only ones who over share. Dinner, music videos, concert announcements, sports, politics, viral videos, memes, ecards, sports scores, quotes that don’t even have pretty pictures as backgrounds, cars, sports updates, pets and more sports crap all take up equal space with children on my news feed. My personal news feed also has a lot of geeky stuff, Big Bang  Theory quotes, science jokes and Zombies but that is because I am a dork. If your news feed is dominated by baby pictures maybe what you need is not an app that replaces them, but a more diverse group of friends.

I don’t like the focus on hipsters and hipster parents. A lot of 20 and 30 something people choose to be child free without choosing skinny jeans and nerd glasses. A lot of parents choose to take their children out in public, even less family oriented areas, without being aging hipsters. And I really don’t like the quote that equates becoming a parent with getting old and boring. I hope that if you are child free and you read my blog that you are already coming to understand that that is a misconception.  I hope that if you have children and you feel boring that I am helping you realize it is time to dust off your impractical shoes and get out of the house.

I am also annoyed that they refer to one of my favorite sites without mentioning it by name. They even use the tagline from the blog without citing it as a source. The blog I am referring to is STFU, Parents. Apparantly the acronym “STFU” is too hardcore for the The New York Times. The blog is dedicated to outing parents for our parental over shares and while I don’t always agree with everything they post I do find it hilarious and possibly a good lesson for us. I do think a good number of us post too much information too often. I am including myself in this chastising. (Of course I over share, Why do you think I write a blog?) Parents aren’t the only ones who over share, though. Have you seen Instagram? Child free hipsters know how to overshare, too.

We are all still learning the rules of the internet. Social media is still in it’s toddler stage. Ya know, tantrums, hitting, not using words properly. Many of us will learn what is accepted and what is frowned upon as we grow simply through conversations and other people’s passive aggressive updates whining about what we do wrong. I suspect there will be far more of these articles as social media grows into it’s teen angst years. We will annoy each other and storm off to our rooms many more times and maybe never reach a full state of peace but at least a peace-like atmosphere between parents and the childfree, foodies and non-foodies, pet-owners and puppy kickers, sports fans and… people like me. I think it starts with realizing that the minute you create your Facebook page you become one of us, an over sharer. You may turn your nose up and claim you don’t over share, but, c’mon, you made a Facebook page.

(You may have noticed this blog post features more photos than usual. These beautiful baby pictures are in honor of baby haters. They can suck it.)

A Revenge Greater Than Living Well

After every breakup, dissolution or just plain bad ending, I always remind myself  that living well is the best revenge. I keep moving forward, bettering myself, learning from my mistakes and building on my experience. I mean, there is usually a lot of drinking and dancing, and eating ice cream in my pajamas, too, for a short while, but then it’s all about progress.

I work hard to make any partnership work, whether in business or in my social life, so that if it does not I can end it with no regrets, knowing I did my part. I don’t burn bridges but that’s only because I don’t bother to look back. I might be one of those super cool chicks that is above concern, but it’s more likely that I’m just too lazy to waste my energy on nonsense that won’t further my own agenda in any way. Putting others down, trying to make them miserable, trying to undo what they have done, none of that helps me or my family in any way, so I have no time or energy to spend on it.

The problem with this sort of laziness or indifference is that it leaves you open  to attack. When you turn your back to walk away it makes it very easy for others to gather there and talk. By the time I reached “real” adulthood there wasn’t anything you could say about me that hadn’t been said so I was pretty much desensitized to the BS that is gossip and slander. If you wanted to light a fire under my ass and really get me riled up you had to attack me where it hurt, my soft spot, the people around me.

I would get riled up, all right, and start calling upon all my resources, which are many, and then… there we were, all my “resources” and I, hanging out, maybe having a drink and just generally living well, and suddenly whatever mission we were on to protect one another seemed far less important. We were living well and that truly is the best revenge. Or, so I thought.

Until the night when someone asked me if I had heard what someone else was saying about me and all that is mine and I had to reach for a picture in my mind of that person’s face and could not conjure up an actual memory of why they would hate me so thoroughly. It was then, as I heard stories of my Facebook being stalked and my name being drug through the mud, that I realized living well leads to a far greater revenge. Forgetting.

Imagine going out of your way to make someone miserable and they are simply too happy to notice or care, how frustrating that must be. Makes ya laugh, doesn’t it? Let’s do it. Let’s choose to live so well we forget others that would have us stew in their misery with them. I know it’s not easy. I know it may involve some amount of going out drinking and dancing and then coming home to eat ice cream in your pajamas. What exactly do you think living well is? That sounds like the good life to me. Let’s move forward, let’s choose to forget… whoever that guy was.

Throwing Stones

I really wanted to spend this nap time either drinking, reading, or both, but I made the stupid mistake of reading Facebook first. So. Much. Judgement. And ya know what? That’s normal. That’s cool. We are all making judgments all of the time. Sometimes they pass idly through our heads as we witness or read about an event, other times they strike us passionately and we feel compelled to react. Many people reach a certain age or point in life when we realize that our judgments, while valid, may be based on limited information. We can only judge a situation based on our own experiences and that doesn’t make us right to anyone but ourselves. In other words, sometimes we don’t know what the hell we’re talking about.

For example: The Barkeep works late, often past 2am, leaving me at home with Sharkboy and Little S.  One night both boys were sick and not sleeping well. I gave LS some Tylenol and carried him over to the couch to give SB a dose, as well. LS leaned over and threw up all over my hand and the full medicine bottle. I dug through the medicine cabinet and found less than a dose of ibuprofen. My options were fairly limited. Sharkboy was miserable and needed something to help his fever immediately but it would be hours before The Barkeep was home and then we would have to wake him up to give him medicine. So, there we were, past 11pm on a week night at my least favorite store. We were in and out quickly. I gave SB his medicine in the car and they were both sound asleep when we got home. I smelled like puke so I took one of my famous middle of the night showers and then of course I couldn’t sleep so I jumped online. Facebook informed me that one of my friends had commented on a status and my jaw plopped on the computer desk when I read,

“What kind of idiot takes her kids to Wal Mart at ANY time, get a babysitter for that.”

Indeed. I could not agree more. I would actually rather set my hair on fire during a root canal than go to Walmart, let alone take my kids, but I live in the real world. Target closes early and I do not have an au paire. I do not know what sort of “free and always available babysitter fantasyland” she has been hanging out in but I don’t even get to visit that place.

The status she was responding to said,

“just saw some dumb bitch at wally world at midnight with a baby and a kid who could barely keep his eyes open. they were all in their pajamas and smelled bad. i swear you should need a lisence[sic] to have kids.”

Ah yes, the old “needing a ‘lisence’ to have a baby” insult. All I need to get pregnant is a dirty look from across the room, so I’d like to see them make that license thing work.  I could only assume since I had just been at Walmart in my pajamas, reeking of vomit, with a baby and a sleepy boy, that I was the dumb bitch.

If I had started this blog with that Facebook quote, I believe many of you would have been nodding your head in agreement, thinking yes, I too have seen that dumb bitch at my Walmart. You would have similar stories to share. But because I started the story with an explanation for why I was there, instead many of you were nodding your head thinking, yes, I have been in a similar bind.

This isn’t an isolated incident. For almost every rude thing you can say about another person I, or someone else, can offer a reasonable explanation. Think about every time someone has passed judgement on you. You probably had an explanation for why they were wrong. (Most of the time. Sometimes we legitimately fuck up. We’re human. I’m not going to judge you for that, at least not out loud. I won’t make you feel bad about it. I might call H-Bomb and tell her.)

Why, for the love of all things pink and sparkly, is it so hard to stop and think, “Hey, this looks really dumb to me, but I may not know the whole story. Kind of like that time I did a dumb thing and everyone was mean to me for it but I actually had an intelligent explanation if they would have listened.” In short, why not just mind your own business? You can actually judge your own business because you presumably know the full story, and if not, you sure as hell have no place sticking your nose in anyone else’s business.

I wasn’t bothered, by the way, by this description of my midnight outing. I never even told my friend that I was the negligent parent. The only standards I worry about living up to are my own. I don’t need to justify myself to some random woman who also happened to be shopping at Walmart at midnight. If I were to say anything to her it would just be that I judge her right back for being the kind of person who is absolute in her certainty in the wrongness of others even though she knows nothing more than a tiny sliver of one evening of their lives.

We do not learn from self righteous thinking. If you never open your mind to the possibilities you may always believe you are right but your mind will begin to stagnate and eventually you will be the only one who believes you are right.

Have fun with that.

In Defense Of The Old Lady

I give “old ladies” a hard time because they give me a hard time. There is always some white haired grandma telling me to put socks on my baby (in July!) or that using a carrier will suffocate him. I’ve had a grandpa or two share words of wisdom, as well, but not as often as the female mitten police. Men prefer to tell me what not to do. “Oh, boys will be boys, you have to let them rough house.” I do let them rough house, I don’t let them rough house with forks in their hands. I’m over sensitive to stab wounds. Old ladies, though, they like to tell me what I’m doing wrong, and it is always something archaic or unimportant. It was a little chilly in the store the day that grandma told me my newborn needed socks but it was so hot and humid outside it was like walking through stew, I wasn’t going to bother digging socks that won’t stay on out of storage for 5 minutes in the store to grab bread. To me that is common sense, my favorite way to parent.

I was eavesdropping the other day at the mall play area. I never think to schedule a play date for these visits because they are often impromptu and generally when I have time to stop and play other moms are busy. Our schedule is hectic, to say the least. So, I eavesdrop and inject myself into other conversations to meet moms. If they think this is creepy they have never let on. Snarky McSnarkbritches and Dr. Google were talking to No Time On The Internet Mom about her many and various mistakes as a parent, from  juice to car seats to sleeping arrangements. I self consciously patted my hair, feeling for the few coarse gray hairs that have been popping in since Little S was born and bit my tongue to refrain from sounding like someone’s grandmother.

Having a 16 year age gap between children I have seen first hand the phenomenon my mother described to me when Goldilocks was a Golden Baby, still being put to sleep on her tummy as “current research” suggested. My mom pointed out how much “current research” had changed and cycled back to the same things over and over again just in the time since we were babies. Having a 16 year age gap between my oldest and youngest child I have now seen that research flux first hand and feel somewhat justified laughing at it.

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Shortly before Golden Baby was born it was still widely accepted to put juice in baby bottles. Can you imagine the scandal if you tried it today?

Other moms of young children that I talk to now about things I did in the past sometimes cluck their tongue and chalk my poor parenting choices up to being so young when the girls were little, but I was there and I can tell you, I was doing pretty damn good thanks to my awesome pediatrician and a healthy dose of common sense. I didn’t have the internet on my cell phone, I didn’t even have a cell phone. Goldy was born in 1994, when the internet was brand new, and parent shaming on a grand and global level was still on the horizon. I had to gather facts the old fashioned way. I read every parenting book I could get my hands on, listened to our doctors and then did what I thought was right.  I remember thinking the things my mother’s generation did were crazy and I’m sure Sharkboy’s generation will look back at us now and think how naive and uninformed we were. And we are. For everything we know there is so much we don’t know and may never know, which is why it would serve us well to sit down and shut up about the things we think we know.

This video clip was recorded a year before Goldilocks was born.

After you read this conduct your own experiment. This works best on Facebook or another social media site.  Ask your friends when a child should see the dentist for the first time. Don’t bother charting it out but find a rough percentage of how many people say they absolutely must go by the age of one. Then calculate about what percentage say that is completely and ridiculously unnecessary because their doctor said they could wait until their child was three. Add those two numbers together on a post it note and shred it in the garbage disposal. Only listen to and hang out with the remainder of the people that quietly told you their opinion without trying to impress upon you that it was the only right answer. Smile politely at everyone else.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends visiting at the sign of their first tooth or by their first birthday.  Beauty and Goldy both went at age three as recommended at the time and they have nearly perfect teeth still today. Sharkboy went at 16 months, exactly one year from the date he got his first tooth and had a full set of teeth, all in great shape. Little S has 6 teeth and will probably go soon after turning one. My point isn’t that you’re doing it wrong. My point is that “current research” and “expert opinions” don’t even always agree, so it is unlikely that we will all make the same choices with our children, even if we all choose to follow the path of research and experts. And, if like me, you have seen all of that change and change back again, you might be inclined to smile politely or  laugh out loud at people who think they have it all figured out.

Which brings me to the old ladies and their constant advice.  Granny was probably chilly in the air conditioning. She saw bare toes and thought, “That baby needs socks.” And it’s very likely she chuckled at me when I told her, “He’s fine, thanks.” Because we both thought we had it all figured out. Even common sense can take us down varying paths.

What Dads Really Want For Father’s Day – A Mom’s Point Of View

What We Really Want For Mother’s Day: Batsmoke was quite popular on Facebook with the moms but not so much with the dads, it seems. (Some dads, other dads were actually the ones sharing it! Thank you.) Yes, I stalk my Facebook shares and read their comments. It’s like an addiction, don’t judge me. I know I should wait and post this in June but the time I spend indoors, near a computer, is dwindling daily. I am a stay at home mother and childcare provider. Sunshine and a big back yard are my two best friends. I have something like a farmer’s tan already, except I call it a provider’s tan. I have lines from flip flops, board shorts and modest neckline tank-tops. That’s a lie. I apologize. On one hand, I want to be honest, but I also want you to think I’m the most awesome caregiver ever. I wear skimpy tank tops when I take the kids out so I won’t have terrible tan lines. They say the truth will set you free but I feel about the same. Anyway… See, the sun is already affecting my writing. I’m all scrambled. June. I won’t be blogging much. So, this one is for the dads to pass around on their special day. Bear with me and my social generalizations, please. I know there are a lot of stay at home dads and moms who work outside the home, too, but it’s much easier to write from one perspective- my own.

You can only buy so many dragon figurines, neck ties, grill accessories, witty t-shirts and such before even you get sick of them. Dads are difficult to buy for. Most men just buy the things they want and need. In their defense, and falling off the feminist bandwagon once again,  this is often because they have a much shorter list. You can’t go wrong with a quality steak, a night out doing something he enjoys or a massage from a professional, but I think there is something higher on his list.

I think that Dad would like to come home and not be in trouble for something, or if he is in trouble I think he would like very much to flash one of these puppies and have it end abruptly. I go to great lengths to not be a nag. By “great lengths” I mean I attempt to count, take deep breaths and meditate away my nagging feelings, but I have to admit sometimes, “I slipped in the cat puke you didn’t clean up and fell face first in your dirty laundry,” just slips out before I can strike a yoga pose.

I’m not a control freak. If I were, I would not have time to blog. That being said, I do have a routine, a system, a way of doing things to keep everything running smoothly in the house that chaos built. I communicate these routines and their minor changes often. I have no idea why. Instead of a lengthy and unnecessary diatribe I will just say that the dad in our house, like dads in most houses, needs reminded of the routine more frequently than I am currently keeping up with. I’m certain he knows this, I tell him often. Yet I am also just as certain he would like to duct tape his “get out jail free” card to my mouth sometimes.

Then there’s the broken stuff. For us, it’s half the house, literally. I would like the addition finished. I would like to take all this junk and spread it out across the finished house. I’d like the dryer to stop squeaking. Ya know, I might just pass him a card on that one, I bet I can figure it out. I’d like our screen doors to make sense and not create a maze on the front porch. Just little things, well, and that half of a house. I’m sure he’s tired of hearing it, even when I dial down, count backwards from ten and say it in a calm voice.

I think dads would like to come home to Batsmoke almost as often as we’d like to use it. I think we should propose some sort of trade. Dad takes the kids at least one night a week while Mom disappears in a puff of smoke. She returns slightly tipsy to a mostly clean house with safe, happy, sleeping children who may or may not have followed their usual routines, but she does not comment on or question Dad’s methods. Dad, meanwhile, enjoys a beer without a single word of nagging about anything, even the laundry.

Do you think it will work? Me neither. Get him one fo these instead.

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