Monday, July 22, 2013

Don't Be a Facehooker

I joined Facebook in the fall of 2008. In other words, I have 5 years of my life documented on the internet. An online journal of the last 1800 days. Treasured moments spent with family and loved ones shared in words and pictures with all of my closest friends. And their second cousin's co-workers.

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. When I opened my account, my name appeared directly to the left of the "update status" box. The word "is", followed by ellipses was the default preface of my status. It didn't take long before I walked around all day every day thinking like this:

Meredith is...out of milk.

Meredith is...having a glass of wine.

Meredith is...getting more and more behind on laundry because...

Meredith is...wasting her life away on the internet AND...

Meredith is...about to lose her fucking mind if she doesn't stop referring to herself in the third person.

Thankfully, the wizards over at Facebook finally changed that format and I eventually, with months of therapy, returned to speaking in first person.

Facebook. I love it. I hate it. It can make me laugh, it can make me cry, and sometimes... it annoys the shit out of me. You know the statuses I'm talking about.

The perfect couple. Always. Every minute. Of every day.

I think my husband is pretty cool, too, but...puh-leeeeeez. Vomit. Make it stop.

The exercisers.


This strikes a particularly sensitive nerve when I skip my work-out and opt to sit on my ass and drink three cups of coffee. But good for them.

And my personal favorite, the over-achieving mom. Mostly because I'm jealous that I'm not on the same meds.

Why the hell doesn't Naomi Nononsense ever speak up in real life? Because I don't have the balls. That's why.

These examples, while worthy of an eyeroll, are easy to poke fun of yet scroll past.

Then there are the updates and photos that stop just short of making my eyes bleed. I refer to these as the Facehookers.

1. The duckface selfie.

It is ridiculous and has succeeded in making girls and women everywhere look like complete morons. I'm not sure what genius decided this was a good look, but it is taking entirely too long for this trend to wear off. If you are still taking pictures of yourself making this face...stop. You will immediately gain I.Q. points, or at least look like you have.

2. The "I know I'm hot and you know I'm hot so check me out I'm in a bikini" pic.  (Just roll with the drawing. I don't want to get sued, yo.)

Need attention much?
And, yeah, I'm jealous as hell that I can't pull this off for fear of triggering gag reflexes. But, still. NO.

3. And the worst Facehooker of all - the "Look at my big 'ol boobs" gal. I can't include a picture (because of the suing), although I can think of plenty of examples right off the top of my head. You know the pose. Bent over forward so all the cleavage is popping out of the top of her low-cut shirt, looking innocent like she has no idea what has happened.

What? My boobs are showing? Well wouldya look at that?! Ooooopsiiiieeee!

Oh, we know what you're doing, sister. You're as translucent as plastic wrap. And probably just as stuck on yourself.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Simple Life

My dreams are lengthy, in color, and frequently involve overgrown talking rodents. I'm sure a professional dream analyst (that's a thing, right?) would tell me there are some deep-seeded issues involved, which is exactly why I haven't bothered to ask. I prefer to go with the theory that I am subconsciously terrified of my daughter's pet guinea pig. It has beady eyes and rattles the cage whenever I walk in the room. Disturbing.

This weekend my husband and I spent a lot of time discussing budgets and retirement planning and college savings and other topics that make me feel like we should have a medical professional standing by to monitor our blood pressure spikes. Being a grown-up sucks sometimes.

Last night, instead of dreaming about mouthy field mice, I dreamed about when we were first married. The period of time we were only pretending to be grown-ups. The time when careers and 401k's and kids and houses and nice cars were far away dreams. We were young and clueless and broke. Really broke. Little did I know, that time in our lives would hold some of my most cherished memories.

We got married the summer after our junior year in college. Life was very simple. But we didn't realize it at the time.

We lived in a yellow(ish) 2 bedroom duplex. (He says cream, I say yellow. Potato, Yukon gold potato. Whatever.) It had flaky green trim - that much we agree on. Our rent was less than our current monthly grocery budget (and remember - I don't like to cook). It was a real fancy place, let me tell you.

Every square foot of our home was furnished in hand-me-downs. Our dog chewed a hole in the back cushions of our best piece of furniture - a 25 year old pastel floral couch. She also chewed a hole right through the sheetrock in the hallway and the entire right side of the plastic mini-blinds that hung in the window of our 2nd bedroom. Shockingly, we did NOT get our deposit back.

Our backyard was the size our living room. Charming "mowed" with a weedeater. We had a real nice 3'x3' patio - perfect for standing shoulder to shoulder. The hole our dog dug right at the edge turned out to be just right for collecting rainwater or twisting your ankle. 

I strategically placed our first Christmas tree where only one side was visible, as I had just enough ornaments to fill 1/3 of it. I boldly I declared the theme to be "teddy bears". I obviously had a real eye for home decor. Any holes were filled with random knick knacks I found around the house. I was also very resourceful.

Our air conditioner was a giant floor-to-ceiling metal contraption. When it turned on during the summer months, it sounded like we lived on a launchpad.

We had part-time jobs that paid our rent and electric bill.  Sometimes we'd have a few bucks left over at the end of the week to make a trip to the all-you-can-eat-pizza buffet.

Our weekly grocery budget bought us little more than a loaf of bread, some sandwich meat, a jar of peanut butter, 5 boxes of Hamburger Helper, and the ground beef to accompany them. Sometimes we splurged and made actual burgers - on a teeny tiny charcoal grill that had legs so short it literally sat on the ground. How we never lit the yard on fire I have no idea.

For extra money, I babysat for a family with 3 children. That gig also proved to be an excellent form of birth control, which was a bonus.

We jammed to mixed tapes played in the cassette players in our cars, and we watched movies at home on our VCR.

We used that newfangled dial-up internet thing every chance we could. Until one of us needed to use the phone.

Between being newlyweds, finishing our degrees and making ends meet on tiny budget, things often seemed terribly complicated. Riiiiiight.

While I wouldn't change a thing about my life, the path it has taken, and especially the blessings it has given me, it was kind of nice to revisit that previous life. The simple one. Even if for only one night.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Do you yell? I think most of us would be hard pressed to answer that question with a solid, resounding, across the-board, "Never."

Because children.

I read a post yesterday by Bethany at Bad Parenting Moments that really struck a chord with me. She talks about the guilt she feels about yelling at her kids. And, of course, the things that other parents sometimes say to compound that guilt.

She was really hard on herself and I felt bad for her. Plus she's got 4 kids and OMG how do you get through a day without yelling is what I'd like to know.

Whether you have 10 kids or 1, they will push your ass right to the edge until you are hanging on with nothing but a broken fingernail.

My parents yelled at me. I'd be willing to bet that on 99.9% of the occasions, I deserved it. I'm not permanently scarred. I don't lay awake at night wondering if maybe they didn't love me because they  lost their shit that time I lied and went to a rated R movie with my friends even though they told me I couldn't go and then got caught because I was an idiot (true story). Or any of the other times they yelled at me for acting stupid.

So I gotta say...WHAT IS THE BIG DAMN DEAL?!?  (I just yelled that.) When was this idea born that yelling at our kids means we don't love them? We're all so worried that we are somehow going to screw up our kids. Well, we need to get over that because OF COURSE WE ARE. No one on either side gets out of this completely unscathed.

Emotions run high in this parenthood gig. Sometimes yelling is just part of it. I don't mean you should be running around screaming like a ninny about every little thing that gets under your skin. That's not good for anybody. And really, you'd be yelling ALL THE TIME. Bad for the vocal chords. But, sometimes? Sometimes it's what works. Sometimes it's what makes them realize you mean business.

My son deserves a spot in Guinness for the most difficult potty-trainee in history. I learned my lesson with my first child's potty training experience, so I didn't even start trying with my second until he was 3. Truth be told, he still wasn't ready but I allowed societal expectations get in the way of my "I-know-better-than-this", and forced the issue. (Dear Lord, I feel like I should thank you once again for seeing us out of that stage alive because you and I both know there were some close calls. Amen.)

One day I could tell he was holding it and really needed to go. So, I escorted him to the bathroom where I proceeded to talk and read to him while he sat - without success - "trying" to go poo (or so he claimed).  45 minutes passed. FORTY-FIVE MINUTES. After pleading with me that he really didn't need to go, I begrudgingly removed him from the toilet and allowed him to go play in his room. A few minutes later, I went into his room to check on him and guess what I found? Him with no pants on...and a turd. In the middle of the floor. Do you think I said, "Oh, sweetie pie. We don't poop in the floor. We poop on the toilet."? Nope. That's not what I said. I yelled. In fact, I flipped the eff out. Judge if you must, but you know what? He didn't shit in the floor again.

One day when my daughter was almost 4 years old, I had one hand pushing a shopping cart, while the other was wrapped around hers as we made our way to the car. She decided she didn't need a personal escort and yanked her hand out of mine. Because she knew my inclination would be to grab it right back, she bolted. Into a busy parking lot. Now might be a good time to mention I was in my 3rd trimester of pregnancy with my second child and "quick and agile" are not words I'd use to describe myself. Did I gently coax her back to me with loving words and open arms? I yelled obnoxiously, and when I got to her (because my piercing screams stopped her in her tracks) I continued to YELL about how dangerous that little stunt was and that she was to NEVER, EVER, NEVER, NEVER, EVER do anything like that again. She cried. I wished for a shot of tequila. But to this day she stays by my side whenever we are in parking lots. 

And then there are all the other days. The day you are unspeakably tired and that is the day the kids need your help with something every other minute. The day you wake up with a pounding headache and that is the day the kids decide to set their volume on maximum. The day you vacuum the floor and that is the day they dump an entire box of goldfish crackers into the carpet. The day you need to have an important discussion with your spouse after the kids go to bed and that is the day they get up 97 times because they are thirsty or hungry or need to go potty or want another story or one more kiss goodnight.

I'm out of the very-young-children stage and my yelling frequency has decreased dramatically. (My daughter turns 13 in about 9 months, at which time we'll revisit this comment.) But when they were little, yeah, I yelled. I yelled when they were doing things that were dangerous and I yelled when they did things they knew they weren't supposed to do and I yelled in lieu of waving the white flag because OMG I'm about to lose what's left of my mind.

This is parenthood. We are standing in the middle of the biggest clusterfuck we never knew existed and when we finally reach our breaking point...we yell. And we beat ourselves up about it. And we need to stop.

Parenting styles are different and that's okay. Maybe you're not a yeller. Good for you. Maybe you are. So, what? Don't let that define whether or not you're a good parent. The best parenting advice my mom has given me to date is, "Chill the hell out." Or something like that. We need to stop beating ourselves up and measuring how good of a parent we are against someone else's standards. If your kids go to bed at night undoubtedly knowing they are loved, you're doing your job. END OF STORY. (I yelled that, too.)