When Social Media Doesn’t Feel So Social

Truth time: I have been avoiding you all.

I normally sit down on Monday mornings, tap-tap-tapping away at my keys, crafting a new blog post as my cup of tea and bowl of oatmeal turn into a lemon-lime sparkling water and whatever ready-to-eat food can pass for lunch. (In other words, I eat a lot of string cheese and things that come in bags that make loud crinkling noises.) Then I schedule social media posts, browse newsfeeds, interact with blogging groups, read about ways to increase reach and website hits, and try to figure out what in my life is interesting enough to be worthy of sharing.

But considering my life has felt mostly like I’m scheduling social media posts, browsing newsfeeds, interacting with blogging groups, and reading about ways to increase reach and website hits, I come up empty-handed on that last one. So when I sat down on these last two Monday mornings, I actually felt more inspired to put away a load of laundry than do anything else. And that’s just effed up.

Back when I was struggling to breastfeed my first child, I remember thinking that the act of feeding my baby shouldn’t be something I wanted to avoid. But it was. The fact that she seemed to want to eat every two hours made me feel like just when I thought I could breathe, I had already fallen behind. And I usually had very little to offer. But I continued to give, at the expense of the things she REALLY needed, like a happy mother.

Similarly, social media doesn’t feel so social anymore. Continue reading “When Social Media Doesn’t Feel So Social”

Incoming Text: You’re Being Stupid

your ecards stupid people bad decisions

As soon as I saw this on Facebook a few weeks ago, I knew it was ripe with possibilities for a blog post.

Stupidity is one of the great common denominators among us. Even intelligent people sometimes make stupid decisions, and every single one of us has asked or been asked a stupid question at least once in our lifetime. And we have all been guilty of making stupid judgement calls by doing something we know we shouldn’t. In most of these cases, I would venture to relabel the offenses as “human nature.”

But there are things that are just plain stupid. And for the life of me, I can’t understand how some people fail to either get it through their skulls or heed what they know is the right thing to do…or realize they are not above the consequences.

Cut to me in my car with both kids in the backseat, stopped at a light. Pan over to the lady in the enormous SUV next to me, texting on her phone. Some of you already know I am not a fan of texting in any of its forms, so I definitely do not consider this the best time to be sending a message. But surely she will stop when the light turns green. Given the subject of this post, I doubt I need to reveal which decision she made. The stupid one. So now, I’m driving with the two most precious things in the world to me next to someone with zero hands on the wheel, zero eyes on the road, in a car big enough to give our four-door sedan a snowball’s chance in hell should a collision occur.

But I’m sure whatever it was she was texting was super important. Lol…winky face.

Ode To My New Dishwasher

We have had our new dishwasher for exactly one week. My 20-year-old self would find me incredibly lame because, well, it has probably been the highlight of the last seven days…even taking into account the facts that I had a frosty from Wendy’s on Monday AND I allowed myself to buy the double-stuffed Oreos instead of the reduced-fat ones at the grocery store on Thursday. I know. Just add this to the list of things I never said when I was twenty-four.

After telling Michael almost every day to NOT stand on the dishwasher door, we let him jump on the old one all he wanted while we waited for the new one to be delivered.

So yeah, this new dishwasher is pretty rad, mostly because I don’t have to pre-rinse the dishes before I put them in. That’s right. No cleaning my dishes by hand in order to have them cleaned by a machine. I have to say I was a little skeptical when my brother-in-law Ryan told us that is what we could expect when we asked him his opinion on which dishwasher we should buy. Ryan is a contractor, and an incredibly talented one, so we trust his judgement. You can check out his work at McCarthy Design + Build (…and then go ahead and give him some business. My two nieces could probably make a living off of being so darn cute, but we would all prefer they go to college). But I still thought that surely a dishwasher couldn’t be THAT good. But it is. It even got off dried-on smoothie, which was my old dishwasher’s mortal enemy.

So out of gratitude for this simple pleasure in life, I give you “Ode To My New Dishwasher:”

I thought no pre-rinsing was only true in fairy tales                                                         Meant for rich people, but not for me                                                                        Detergent spots were out to get me (duh-doo-doo-doo-doo)                                       Baked-on food too (duh-doo-doo-doo-doo)                                                            Rewashing forks haunted all my dreams

Then I got my Bosch                                                                                                          Now I’m a believer                                                                                                                Not a speck                                                                                                                           Of peanut butter on my knives                                                                                              My dishes are clean (ooooooooo ahhhhhhh)                                                                       I’m a believer, I couldn’t clean it better with my hands

But for the record, I still hate doing dishes. I’ll write a novella about the dishwasher that can remedy that.

Denying My True Self Through Pinterest

I finally know what it must be like to be a drug addict. And I have Pinterest to thank for it.

Last month I thought I would just check out this thing that has become quite the little craze. I was curious, looking for something new to put a little pizzaz into what can be a sometimes hum-drum life of a stay-at-home mom. At first, I really did have control over it. I was just an occassional user, mostly because I hadn’t figured out how to bring up the page that shows you what all your friends have been pinning. I was simply using it as a glorified “favorites bar.” But then my friend Angie opened up the Pinterest world to me, and now it’s not pretty.

Sure, the site has been a virtually endless trove of ideas for organization, DIY crafts, party ideas, and the like. But if there has ever been something that has made me feel such an unnerving combination of hope and self-loathing, I have yet to come across it. As my eyes flutter among the hundreds of ways I can improve my life, be a better mother, have a nicer home, and make more satisfying dinners,  I am at first exhilarated by the promise of what we all secretly desire, but few admit: to move one step closer to Martha Stewart status, one of the most highly prized components of the ever-elusive SuperMom. But here is where that double-edge sword does its handy work. The only thing that promise ever really seems to do is remind me of all the areas I am supposedly falling short in. Becoming panicky at the idea that I totally suck at life, I almost mindlessly grab a pen and start making a list of materials I need to buy at Michael’s to make this nifty little menu planning board that will surely revolutionize my family’s dinners. Yes, the menu planning board. If I just make this menu board, I will eradicate all those inferiorities I feel as the nourisher of my loved ones. But chances are, after I end up spending $35 on supplies and hours of time I don’t really have creating this board, I will still end up staring into my refrigerator at 5:15 pm wondering for the first time all day what I can throw together for dinner. Here comes the self-loathing again…and here comes Pinterest with my next fix.

I have to face reality. Pinterest is not going to change me. There are four laundry baskets of clean clothes sitting in my front hallway as I write, and at least some of them will likely be there again tomorrow. The day I put away all the laundry the same day I do it will be the day you need to suspect the pod people have finally made it to earth. My car has smelled like Wendy’s for three days now, probably because there is a wrapper or stray french fry in some crevice, and finding it just really is not on my “to do” list at the moment. I will continue to be the kind of person who one day decides she needs to clean the house like a freak until you can eat off of every surface, but on a regular basis is too lazy to throw her dirty clothes down the laundry chute and instead tosses them on the floor right in front of it. I will forever be someone who craves organization, but can never stay organized. All the DIY crafts in the world can not save me from myself. If my Pinterest boards reflected reality, they would have titles like Television Shows I Watch While My Kid Naps, Things I Always Meant to Scrapbook and Never Did, Things I Convince My Kids to Do So I Don’t Have to Do Arts & Crafts With Them, and of course Favorite Recipes, with only two pins, “Spaghetti with canned pasta sauce” and “Imo’s Pizza.”

Fortunately, I read something today that made me feel okay about that. I am sure many of you by now have heard of the blog “People I Want to Punch in the Throat,” home of the now infamous post, “Over Achieving Elf on the Shelf Mommies.” I am a fan. The author, Jen, cracks my cookies up. Check her out if you haven’t already. Anyway, today she posted an interview that DC Metro Mom had done with her, and she said something that really resonated with me: “There’s a real movement out there to manufacture memories for your children and I just don’t buy it. Every day is not a party and kids don’t need it to be.” Pin that, Pinterest. Jen is my guru for the day.

My kids aren’t going to fondly remember that mom had this kick-arse menu planning board and 25 different ways to make zucchini. They are going to remember the time I was too tired to cook and let them have cereal right out of the box for dinner. Or maybe they won’t. But they will remember that when they were hungry, I had food for them (well, except for maybe today…the cuppards are pretty bare because I am bound and determined to wait until $10 off Thursday at Shop ‘n’ Save).

Don’t get me wrong, fellow pinners; I will not be entering Pinterest rehab anytime soon. I doubt my enthusiasm will even be curbed. I may have just uncovered it as a harbor of the manufactured mother myth, but a girl can still have dreams. I may be smart enough to realize Pinterest will not change my inferiorities, but I am also smart enough to realize that if I stop striving to be better, I am not really living at all.

And to prove it, I just went and moved those four laundry baskets out of the front hallway and into my bedroom so that the pizza delivery guy wouldn’t see them and judge me as the housekeeping slug that I am.

By the way, you can pin this is you want to. Pin It

Please Laugh At Me…Don’t “LOL” At Me

The sweet and spicy milkiness of my chai tea latte glided down my throat as I sat with a few fellow preschool moms at St. Louis Bread Co., celebrating the first day of school for our little three-year-olds (all of whom are either the youngest or the only, meaning we all had nearly four hours to ourselves…hence the celebration). Somehow the conversation turned to the topic of our completely archaic cell phones. My friend Kelly (what a great name!) said the man at her nail salon made fun of her old “block phone.” And I joked, though completely serious, that I can never figure out how to even CALL someone on my husband’s Blackberry. And I pretty much do not text because I hate having to press the “2” button three times just to get the letter “C”. At that moment, Kelly motioned her head to the table behind me and said, “Look at those two.”

I inconspicuously turned my head to see an elderly couple sitting across from each other, both with Blackberries, completely enthralled in texting. Yes, I said an ELDERLY couple. It was a bit amusing that these people who could be my grandparents were more up to date with their technology than a table full of thirty-somethings, but there was also something very disturbing about that picture to me. I think one of the ladies commented that it was “impressive,” but to tell the truth, I really just thought it was sad.

Here were two people of a generation that was brought up during a time of real human interaction, a time when correspondence was really quite an art form. But now we live in a time when even an elderly couple can not sit and enjoy each other’s company for long enough without “lol-ing” some text they received from Mildred concerning Betty’s outrageous behavior during the bridge game.

cell phone texting
“I’m sorry, what? I only speak English.”

Are you getting the distinct feeling that I am not a fan of texting? Well, you would be right. For starters, I think it is threatening the future of our written language. The act of texting is so ingrained in younger generations that “text language” almost comes more naturally to them than the English language when putting something down on paper (…paper? What’s paper? You mean people still WRITE on that stuff? With a…what’s it called…a pen?). I saw firsthand how it affected my high school students’ composition skills when I was teaching. And that was over five years ago. It can only have gotten worse.

More than that, I think it can negatively affect social skills. Sure, the occasional text here and there is harmless. I do not think that my husband texting me as I shop at Schnucks to make sure to get ice cream is ruining our communication skills in our marriage. I can certainly see the conveniences. But for so many people it has become a primary mode of conversation and, well, that just can not be good. For a lot of reasons. Visions of Disney’s Wall-E come to mind: a world full of blubbery slugs sitting in front of video screens who are so disconnected they can not even look to the person next to them and have a conversation.

But perhaps the thing I hate most about texting is that while in some ways it forces us to disconnect with each other, it also gives us this false bravery to share WAY too much with each other. I’m talking about “sexting.” My friend Natalie was looking for advice the other day on just this very subject. She had been getting several text messages from a wrong number, and from the nature of the texts, this person obviously thought Natalie was someone she had a more “intimate” relationship with. (Though I’m wondering how well she knew this person she was texting…not well enough to know his correct phone number). Natalie had received some racy messages, topped off with a very suggestive photo. She was wondering how she should break the news that this girl was texting all this sensitive information to the wrong number. Apparently, Natalie wanted to be polite about it. But do you know what my advice to her was? Here was my response:

I would say, “You have the wrong number. Please stop sexting me. If you want your picture back, you can find it on the internet.” There needs to be an element of embarrassment for her…serves her right for sexting in the first place. That’s just dumb. Doesn’t she know how dumb sexting is, for this very reason? What is wrong with girls these days???? Maybe you should send along some recommendations for good feminist literature so she can read it and gain a little pride in herself. Now excuse me while I go say few prayers that my kids don’t have to go grow up in such an idiotic culture.

So that is how I feel about that.

Go ahead and call me a cantankerous old woman at the age of thirty-four. But do me a favor and tell me to my face…or at least call me on the phone. Just do not text me. It will cost me twenty cents.