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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Facebook Quitters

What’s with people quitting Facebook? I mean, personally, I find it to be the perfect social situation. I’m a stay at home mom who spends all my days socializing with my children. Having 3.5 children and being pregnant for the last ten years (give or take) means I haven’t had the time or energy to actually “go out” and be social. And when I do get out, it’s to take my children somewhere so that they can socialize.

Facebook is my lifeline to the outside world. The beauty of it is that you only have to participate when you damn well please, and talk to only whomever you choose. It doesn’t require any awkward or “polite” conversation. It even offers a second chance to get to know the people who, for whatever immature or superficial reason, did not make it into your social click back in high school (and if any high schoolers are reading this, you’re gonna feel like an idiot for this in a few years. I missed out on some obviously awesome people). And, it seems to me, that giving people the option of seeing their words in writing and having a chance to THINK before they speak, or type, is a far more effective form of communication. For the most part, in my Facebook world anyway, people are kinder and gentler, have a fantastic sense of humor, and show a genuine interest in people other than themselves. (Have a birthday as a Facebooker and you will feel like the luckiest person in the world from all the people who took five seconds to acknowledge your special day.) And if they are not these things, they can (and will) be gone with the push of a button. I have vanished only two people from my Facebook world, and it was simply because they were HUGE downers. I have no tolerance for whiny grown-ups. I can listen to and politely engage in differing views and opinions with others. I can brush off the frequent incredibly boring and unnecessary status updates from some. I can certainly sympathize with the person going through a rough time and looking for some support or just needing to throw their woes out into the Facebook universe. But that bitchy drama queen who is certain that we are all here to listen to her saga and feed her egocentric paranoia while she broadcasts her drama all over Facebook, or that whiny man bitch who’s hourly status updates consist only of road rage rants, assholes out to ruin his day everywhere he goes and all the idiots who are idiots because they don’t think exactly like him about everything, they don’t stand a chance in my Facebook land. They’re like aliens on the wrong planet.

My status updates are typically inspired by my family (and I’m quite sure that there are people out there who have or have considered axing me for that reason, to each his own). It may sound, at times, like whining, but by the time I post it, I have usually found the humor in it. When i find out I was pregnant with baby # 4 just nine months after baby #3 came along, I didn’t have time to panic, I was too busy composing my Facebook status update to share the news. Or when I saw the scale tip towards a devastating number at my last OB appointment and Darren told me I would cry when I inevitable hit that number, a lesser woman would have sobbed with fear, depression and resentment. Not me, I chuckled with thoughts of sharing his gentle response with my Facebook friends. Overall, it helps me laugh at any potential nervous breakdown triggering situation. My hope is that it may bring smiles and chuckles to others, some of whom (parents) will surely relate. My misery is not looking for company, it’s just looking on the bright side.

So why do some suddenly feel compelled to disconnect with a declaration of independence from some sort of Facebook stigma? What is it about this social environment that makes it feel so taboo? Are people actually unable to function and be productive human beings because they are so busy posting on Facebook and stalking their friends? How long can that take? What is it about cutting themselves off from all of their long lost friends that feels so liberating? My best friend led her own mini-revolution away from Facebook a few months ago, with the typical valiant final Facebook sign off. Shortly after, she sent me a text asking me why she was the last to know that baby #4 was a girl. “Sorry, I posted it on Facebook, I guess I forgot about your boycott.” This is what makes Facebook so convenient. The great thing about best friends is that you can go months without speaking (because life happens) and still pick up right where you left off when you do finally have the time. But Facebook kept us connected during that down time. It was perfect. And then she ditched me, for no good reason.

A few weeks ago, I watched the Facebook CEO on 60 Minutes. Granted, there was something a little off about the guy. He has a slimy edge. But it’s not like we pay him to keep us connected. And while I know that the people behind Facebook occasionally have the gall to rearrange our Facebook layout sending our comfortable cyber world into a tailspin, the shock seems to wear off after a few venting status updates expressing our disgust.

When I turn on my computer, I am eagerly anticipating a few positive thoughts, some silly sarcasm, an interesting point to ponder, a few smiles, the chance for a little high school reunion, and always the possibility of a good laugh or an enthralling conversation. And I can keep the opportunity for any of the above close by. It takes the mundane edge off of folding clothes, doing dishes, sweeping floors, making dinner, etc, knowing my computer is on just a few feet away. And while I devote my time and energy of each and every day attempting to entertain, negotiate and reason with my children, I maintain my sanity knowing that an adult conversation or even a grown-up random thought is just a click away in my carefully crafted Facebook land. And if anyone thinks I must be ignoring my children to sit on my computer Facebooking all day, their name has obviously never been “mommy” and they have clearly never tried ignoring three little people with rights to that name. It’s simply not an option. Sitting is rarely an option.

I am grateful for Facebook. I can’t help thinking that the outside world would forget all about me if it wasn’t for this social network. And I’m also pretty sure my family, and even myself, would not seem as cute and funny if I didn’t have the chance to reflect on and share all of our quirky little idiosyncrasies. It is very introspective and never fails to remind me how very, very lucky I am.

My name is Kristin, and I genuinely enjoy Facebook. There are worse things.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ungrateful little bitch

Disclaimer: I would never call my little girl an ungrateful little bitch (yet). No, I’m actually referring to myself when I was a child. However, my daughter IS me, through and through. So, you do the math.

I’ve learned so much about my mom since becoming a mother. Like, despite my certain belief that she was crazy, she was actually pretty damn patient. But I’ve learned even more about what a pain in the ass little bitch I was to her. Every time Madeline does something infuriating and I hear myself nag or lecture her, I think to myself “this speech sounds very familiar”. (I find my own nagging just as annoying as I did my mother’s. I’ve even told myself to shut the hell up once or twice.) The similarities are so striking that I can’t help thinking my mom is up there pulling some strings making it all happen; An angelic little puppeteer just watching and chuckling her ass off.

Because I’m especially “lucky” to be raising a child EXACTLY like me, I have an even greater understanding of how fortunate I am to still be alive and unscathed. If she were still here now, I would thank my mother for not shaving my head or ripping my hair out when I was little and I turned grooming into a war zone. And I would acknowledge a few of the millions and millions of things she did for me, daily. Or apologize for being such a scatterbrained child who constantly lost things and had a room so messy we had to leave the door shut. The other day I barked at Madeline “shut your bedroom door please! Your baby brother could crawl in there and die in that mess.” She flashed me her best evil eye and said “you are so mean!”

I would also apologize for all those years of thinking I knew more than she did. At seven, my daughter doesn’t think she knows more than me, but she has made it clear that just because I’m mommy does not me I always know everything. This was her point this morning in fact, when I laid out a sweater for her to wear that she didn’t like.

“Mommy, I am me, and you don’t know if I like something or not. Only I know.”

“True, but I can still know that this is a great sweater, even if you don’t know it.”

I somehow convinced her to wear it and when she came home from school, she reluctantly confessed that she did get a few compliments on that sweater. She may know stuff, but I will almost always know better.

Yes, my little clone is already pretty challenging at times. She is as sweet as she can be to the rest of the world. Her teachers have always used words like “cooperative, polite, kind and considerate.” (I’ve begged her to bring that child home from school some day because I would love to meet her.) So clearly, she saves all of her strong willed, stubborn seven year old frustrations for her mom. Rightfully so, I suppose. I mean, it only makes sense she takes it all out on the one who’s world revolves around her; the one who spends 90% of her time trying to make her life as wonderful as possible. I guess it’s only fair that if something is amiss in her world, it is all my fault.

But I can take it. It helps to know that, since she is me, she too, will one day be really awesome and wise enough to be grateful for what I’ve done for her and sorry for what she put me through. And she will also have a daughter and continue the “payback is an ungrateful little bitch” cycle.

Yes, at seven, she infuriates me, but she does not scare me. However, she will, one day, be teenage me, and that terrifies me. I’ve already decided to be (somewhat) honest about my teenage mistakes, mostly because I know that it is only by the grace of God that I survived my own teenage stupidity and I do not think it is a good idea to push our luck having her repeat those mistakes. I want her to know that I too was a teenager who was inanely convinced that I was invincible and that I knew EVERYTHING and my parents knew NOTHING; I was, also, stupid enough to think that I had a better grasp of the world’s realities than they did, even during my drug experimenting years when my main goal was to escape those realities. In reality, I was an idiot, just like her.

I want her to know that I too was so selfish and self-centered, that I could not understand why my parents couldn’t just BACK OFF and let me live my life MY WAY. It never occurred to me that it hurt them to watch me make such bad and destructive decisions because they are the very people who’s world as they know it would end if something terrible had ever happened to me. I too, never thought about the fact that when I stay out all night and don’t bother calling, my mother was praying that I was not dead, even more than she was plotting my death IF and when I finally did stroll in the door and inevitably and infuriatingly asked “what’s the big deal?”

I want her to know that I know, just as my mother did, that when she says “I HATE YOU!” and MEANS IT, she doesn’t mean it. And despite her attempt at choosing the right words to cut me as deeply as possible, I will heal, and love her still. I will wish for her to understand that unconditional love is something only her parents can give her, and is NOT the love she has for her boyfriend who is a dick and cheats on her (but she loves him and he loves her and that’s all that matters). Spare me.

I am eternally grateful to my mother, not only for loving me unconditionally, but for teaching me to love this way. I’m even grateful to her for wishing a child “just like me” on me. It makes me feel like I am repenting for all of my ungrateful -little-bitch sins against her. I deserve it, and I will do so willingly and whole-heartedly. And I pray that she will rest in peace, knowing that every day of motherhood gives me a greater understanding of how magnificent she was, and what and ungrateful little bitch I was. I will consider myself a success if I too, never beat the hell out of my idiot teenage daughter.