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 ūüėČ

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.

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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.)

Sharkboy’s Potty Training Chronicles – I Drooled

Just a quick update.

Sharkboy: *frantic* Mama, I drooled. I drooled. I drooled. I drooled.

(This is the new thing repetition until I come up with the appropriate response. I have never heard him say drool before and I rarely say it, myself.)

Me: You drooled?

Sharkboy: I drooled.

Me: Are your teeth bothering you?

Sharkboy: No? I drooled?

Me: Like, out of your mouth?

Sharkboy: No.

(long pause)

Sharkboy: Out of my penis. On the floor. I drooled. Come see.

He walked over to a tiny spot on the floor and pointed. Sure enough.

Me: Did you pee?

Sharkboy: Yes. I peed. From my penis. On the floor.

You can’t laugh at kids when they are upset. Especially while potty training. So, I put a positive spin on it. He had been running around in his underwear playing and started to pee. But he realized he was peeing and stopped. He finished on the potty and got a sticker.

Parents Are People, Too (aka A Good Ol’ Fashioned Guilt Trip)

Every so often I check my site stats to see which blogs are being read and shared and what search terms lead people to my blog. (I think a lot of lonely young men attempting to buy their own batsmoke leave my page disappointed.) I can see at a glance which blogs are the most popular and which blogs you are sharing with friends.

Most of my blogs are about parenting and all of the wonderful things that go along with that like cleaning the house, cooking dinner and trying to explain why I don’t have a penis. Those blogs are, by far, the most popular. I also write about movies I like or do not like and I suppose eventually I will write about books again and there will be a lot of blogs about The Bar and live music. Those blogs do not get read as often or shared as much but I will continue writing them. I write for me but I also write for you and I think you need the blogs about music and movies and drinking as much as I do.

Becoming a parent changes everything. It’s a cliche because it’s true. Humans, in general, are self centered. That’s not mean or a negative outlook on humanity, it’s just common sense. All of your most basic instincts are cleverly designed to protect you. Until you have a child. Between your biological urge to protect your child and society’s pressure to do so and do so better than anyone else, it is very easy to forget that you still have needs of your own. When taking a shower becomes a task you have to schedule, finding time to nurture your talents and explore hobbies can seem like a luxury.

Some time after Goldy and Beauty were born, but before my divorce, I discovered that I was boring. I didn’t do anything worth talking about and I didn’t have anyone to tell even if I did do something noteworthy. It would be easy to blame my ex-husband because he did instigate my isolation but it wasn’t intentional and I let it happen even though I know better. Lucky for me, he still had friends and one of his friends was still into girls (that is a whole different blog for another day) and he brought over my future best friend, H-Bomb.

It’s amazing what one person listening can do for your self esteem. My Ex had forgotten who I was before I became overwhelmed with parenting and house work. It wasn’t entirely his fault, though, I stopped reminding him. I suddenly understood all possible meanings of the phrase, “I need to find myself,” which I had always thought was complete hocum. How do you lose yourself? Now I know how very easy it is to lose track of yourself. Hint: You will not find yourself at the bottom of a pile of laundry.

No matter how deep the pile, you will not find yourself at the bottom.

Having someone to listen again made me want something to talk about. I didn’t want all of my fun stories to be about the past. I wanted to read books that weren’t by Mercer Mayer and go places that weren’t family friendly. I wanted to put on lipstick, not chapstick and paint my own nails, not my daughters’. I wanted my own life.

If any of this sounds familiar or you are nodding your head then you are the one I’m writing for. You need support. You need a friend to listen. And you need to know that it is okay to be a parent and your own person. It’s not only okay to have a life outside of your children, it is necessary to be a good a parent. You cannot be your best self if you are only focused on your children. You need a hobby. You need a night out. You need a shower. No really, you need a shower.

I often hear new moms say, “I don’t even have time for a shower!” I feel your pain, I do. Put the baby down and go take a quick shower. Yes, he might cry and you might feel guilty but when you are done you are going to feel so good. ¬†Babies sense your stress and discomfort. They also sense your peace and happiness. Be at peace, be happy. It will be easier to get him to latch on or fall asleep if you are not a sweaty ball of nerves.¬†This gets harder as the kids get older. Cages are frowned upon so you will need a good support system, but you not only deserve it, you need it.

These are not my kids. Do not call CPS.

We went out last weekend on Little S’ birthday. Without him. We spent all day with the kids and then took him to Grandma’s house after dinner. We have karaoke every Saturday at The Bar and our karaoke jockey was having a birthday party. We’ve only owned The New Bar for 6 months so it is important to be present, to meet people, to interact. We also had friends playing in bands on the other side of town. The Barkeep helped set up one of our friends, an old local music connection of mine, ¬†on the bill at the last minute, so we wanted to see the show. I met a fellow at The Bar that night that asked about my kids. When I told him it was my youngest baby’s first birthday he told me I should be at home. Now, you might agree, but I want you to flip the phrase around in your head awhile and ask yourself why I needed to be home with a sleeping baby on a Saturday night when I had so many other options and a trusted babysitter. In case he wakes up and wonders why his Mommy went out on his birthday? This is your first baby, isn’t it?

People might make you feel guilty about pursuing your own interests. You might make¬†yourself¬†feel guilty. Consider this, it is our job to model the behavior we want to see in our children.¬†We cannot raise well rounded people if we feel like half the person we used to be. We cannot encourage them to cultivate their talents and nurture their ideas if we are ignoring our own. We can’t teach them to explore hobbies if we don’t have any of our own. Humans have an actual need to share and enjoy themselves.Why do you think Sims have a social meter and an aspirations meter? They are based on us! (And now you know one of my hobbies…) Our children need us to remember that we are all people, too. Our children deserve to be raised by well rounded individuals.

If none of this convinces you then I have one last thought, a question actually. Think of your child’s favorite activity. Goldy likes writing. Beauty likes fashion. Sharkboy likes constructing. The jury is still out on Little S, he seems to enjoy dancing and eating. What does your child enjoy? Do you do your best to encourage that hobby, take her to lessons, buy the necessary tools and praise liberally? Do you want him to give it up for anyone, ever? Or do you want him to continue building on that interest and learning new ones as he grows?

At the core of everything we want for our children is the same basic premise. We want them to be happy. Se ta good example for your children and remember, your parents wanted you to be happy. Don’t let them down.

My Mind May Wander But My Values Remain

I’m ¬†in the middle of planning my Fourth And Final First Birthday Party for Little S on Sunday. Page Six predicts it to be a spectacular gathering of our city’s most beautiful and dazzling… no wait, that was Pamela Anderson’s party, her birthday is the same weekend. As far as I know our city has no equivalent to Page Six and if it does I prefer to remain unaware. Little S will celebrate his Seuss themed party at our bar, hopefully on the patio, but who knows in the ridiculous humidity.

In the midst of this I am also feeling some pressure about how I raise my teenage daughters. It may be unintentional, but it is still stressful. No matter how confident you feel as a parent any indication that you may be doing something wrong can make you question yourself. Being bluntly told that you are a bad parent feels like a punch in the stomach. I had never experienced it until a few years ago but I will never forget that feeling and now even less harsh criticisms sting like salt on a wound.

As I paint, cook and craft in preparation for the party I have too much time to think. I’m not used to this anymore and my mind wanders easily. I have never been a typical parent and that only becomes more obvious as my kids get older and more numerous. My goal has never been to raise the best behaved children, but rather, I choose to raise decent and loving people. Their good behavior seems to be a side effect of that goal. My kids are normal kids. They throw fits, roll their eyes and talk back. Sometimes they fall down begging for shoes that they never wear after the first day or haircuts that they hate within a week. I’ve walked out of stores in the middle of tantrums and thrown my hands up in exasperation. I’m not trying to claim a Mother of The Year Award of portray my children as angels, but honestly, they really are good kids. They do normal kid things, appropriate for their age, but they also do ¬†exceptional and amazing things that make my heart swell and fill me with pride.

Every parent has different goals for their children. That is why we parent so differently and judge each other so harshly.  My goal is to raise people that do what is right, not out of fear of punishment or repercussion, but because they know it is right. I want them to be open minded and tolerant but not so tolerant they accept situations they know are wrong.

Like all parents, I also want to protect them from danger, Again, we all have different ideas about what is dangerous and how to protect them. I don’t want to shelter my children because I feel that can be as dangerous as not protecting them at all. Just as exposure to illnesses builds our immune system and exposure to the cold builds our tolerance, exposure to life builds our strength to endure and thrive. It’s difficult to find the balance between allowing them to experience a full life and protecting them from serious harm.

Not one of us will get it right. Not one of us will be the perfect parent. And even when you come as close to your goals as you possibly can someone else who does not understand your viewpoint will judge the situation from their own.

This isn’t how the thought process plays out in mind, for the record. I bandy about the phrases “judgmental pricks” and “just wait until their kids get older” quite a bit. That is one thing people never seem to understand when they do not have children or their own children are still very young. My teenagers are my babies. I feel just as fiercely protective and loving of my 17 year old as I do my tiny almost one year old baby. My 13 year old daughter is not one speck less important to me than my toddler. When I consider my parenting choices I am fully aware that they are teenagers but you must also realize that ¬†not so long ago they were not the young ladies that roll their eyes and stomp away, they were tiny babies learning to walk and precious toddlers saying silly things that I wrote down so I would never forget.

Our children learn and grow and become new people everyday. Every phase, every moment, has its ups and downs, but inevitably every phase ends. It’s a somber thought, as you consider your baby or toddler, laughing and hugging and loving with abandon the way only the very young can. But this phase, no matter how much you love it, must end in order for your preschool child to amaze you with her many talents that you did not recognize in a younger child or for your pre-teen to impress you with how he handled a bully at school or for your teenager to blow you away with her understanding of humanity. And someday your children will be adults, and maybe have children of their own, but they will never stop being the baby you rocked to sleep, the toddler who’s owies you kissed, the child that said “I love you, too” for the first time.

How can we be expected to stop baby proofing their world?

But we must. We must allow them to live and learn and grow from their experiences. Just as I joked that I skipped the foam rubber padding on our coffee table and let Goldy learn the hard way not to run around the furniture, I must also let them learn to navigate outside our home and outside the somewhat controlled confines of the school.

That doesn’t mean I have to do it your way.

My daughters are still young but they are old enough for me to know that for all of my questions and all of my mistakes I must be doing a pretty damn good job. I won’t do everything the same with my sons. I’m at a different phase in my life, too. The world is already a different place. The only thing I can say for certain that I will do the same is to parent according to my own beliefs and my own goals.

I’m going to have my baby’s first birthday in a bar. I’m sure people will talk. I want them to know this is my Fourth And Final First Birthday Party. “This ain’t my first time at the rodeo.” I have my own set of values, my own set of goals. I don’t need yours.

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.

Image

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.

Sharkboy’s Potty Training Chronicles – Part 2 – Who Has A What

Today Sharkboy followed me to the bathroom so he could potty, too. We go this way a lot. I have to pee so he joins me and I nearly pee my pants while helping him get his down.

We have had a lot of talks about who is a girl and who is a boy because he had trouble with pronouns. Goldy is a she, Daddy is a he, etc. ¬†We have never discussed the difference in our anatomy, though. It’s just never come up. Until today.

Me: Are you going to pee? You’ve been sitting there awhile.

Sharkboy: Yes. It’s in my peepee.

Me: You feel the urine in your penis? (I don’t care what he calls it but I like to use the correct terms sometimes so he knows what they are.)

SB: Yesss. There is pee in my peepee. Is there pee in your peepee?

Me: No, I’m done, see, I’m wiping.

SB: You don’t have any pee in your penis?

Me: I don’t have a penis.

His face went through a series of expressions from skepticism to confusion to concern in a matter of a few seconds. Meanwhile, I am pulling up my pants before he decides to check and washing my hands.

SB: Where is your penis?

Me: Girls don’t have penises. We have…

SB: Peepees?

Me: We have vaginas? Not really though. I mean we do, but we don’t pee with our vaginas. We have vulvas, I guess.

This is my best friend H-Bomb’s fault. I raised two perfectly healthy, self aware daughters using the term vagina to describe female genitals for potty training but all it took was one harmless, honest question to throw me off. She texted one night to ask me the correct term and I wasn’t quite sure. Obviously.

SB: Where is your penis.

Me: I don’t have a penis. I have a vulva.

SB: Noooo! Silly goose!

Me: No really. Boys have a penis and girls have a… I guess it’s a vulva. Or a vagina. It’s complicated.

SB: Where is your penis?

Me: I don’t have a penis, I’m a girl. You have a penis. Daddy has a penis. Brudder has a penis. You are all boys. (It was at this point I realized that even though he joins us in the bathroom sometimes he has never seen the difference between boys and girls. A penis is slightly more obvious than… whatever girls have. He used to watch me change his brother’s diaper but he has never really seen a naked girl. I mean, he’s two.)

SB: Brudder is a boy. He has a penis.

Me: Yes!

SB: You have a complicate.

Me: I have a what?

SB: You don’t have a volvo, you have a complicate.

And that, Naptime friends, is how Sharkboy discovered the real difference between boys and girls at the young age of two. Boys have a penis and girls are complicated.

Click here for Part One

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