Let’s Relax On The Parent Shaming

I used variations of the word “shitty” about nineteen million times in this blog entry. This is my preface apology. Also? Running low on free time this morning so I’m opting to leave this note instead of editing for spelling/grammar errors. #Priorities.

I’ve been a Mom for 20 years. That means I started out parenting pre-internet. I went 7-8 years as a Mom before I learned how much I was doing wrong from the interwebs. It wasn’t until I started trying to have child #2 that I realized how many opinions people have about parenting. And it’s only gotten worse since.

The popular parenting advice trend is to find an issue (sometimes multiple issues) that can be easily researched and then blamed for the product of shitty adults. This is easiest done by finding shitty adults who blame their parents for their shittiness. This does two things. 1) It makes shitty adults not take responsibility for their shortcomings and 2) Discounts about a million other factors that come into play when creating shitty adults.

When I had Nikki the first trend I remember is Telling Parents That Letting Babies Cry Makes Adults Who Are Untrusting. Or some such nonsense. We want our kids to know we’ll be there for them! Babies are too young to know better! Cry it out is evil! Attachment parenting is King! I remember really facing a lot of internal debate on this one because I liked many facets of attachment parenting, but Crying It Out also worked for us a bit. I made myself crazy worrying about the adult I was creating in making the decision every night whether or not to let me kid cry or not.

But then I started seeing links that blamed Attachment Parenting for creating spoiled toddlers and preschoolers. And then I saw articles that Crying It Out made middle schoolers who couldn’t make friends. But wait…Attachment Parenting makes high schoolers that won’t want to go to college out of town. And Crying it out makes college kids who do drugs!

Basically I learned that – whatever parenting method you support? You can find articles to support it. There were be tons of well-adjust adults thanking their parents for doing the thing you do. And whatever parenting style you disagree with? You can find research backing you up. There are adults blaming their faults on that parenting style you don’t like. There is evidence for pro/con of EVERY type of parent EVER. Aside from extremes, of course. I doubt there’s any support for starving or beating kids. But hell, the internet can get twisted, maybe there is.

So – what did all this teach me in my early days of parenting with the internet? To read a little here and there, but to follow my gut. Because the truth is? Humans are complex. And like I said before, trying to simplify parenting into Dos and Don’ts removes the possibility for other influences, like genetics and friends and society and media. We are not solely products of how our parents raised us. And while parenting does play a part, I am sick of these trends of shaming parents into believing that if their kids are shitty adults, it’s their fault and their fault only.

Helicopter parenting. Overparenting. Whatever you call it…this is the latest parenting style being shamed by “experts”. And I’m not saying there aren’t valid points to some of these articles, but I hate the idea that now there’s a Mom who makes it a priority to go to every game/recital/play and who helps her child with registrations/conflicts/bureaucracy and who joins their child at the playground/birthday party/school dance – and that Mom is feeling shame now because the world is telling her that she’s raising a shitty adult.

But you know what? Humans are not that simple. That’s why there’s always articles also supporting the opposite side of the argument. There are perfectly well-rounded and responsible adults thanking their parents for their involvement. Just like there are shitty adults blaming their shittiness on overparenting. Yes, parents play a part, but it’s not that simple.

And I say this as an under-parenter. Or…um…what’s the opposite of a helicopter parent? A lighthouse parent? Someone who is there when they’re needed but let’s the boat make journeys without it? Whatever it is. That’s me. I’m the other side of the spectrum so I’m doing it “right” according to all of the articles I’ve been seeing lately. I have hobbies and an identity outside of being a Mom. I miss games all the time. The kids play at the park alone while I run on the track, or play on my phone. I make them take care of most conflicts at school on their own. E deals with beaurocratic nonsense without me all the time.

My kids should be perfectly responsible and self-sufficient adults if the internet can be trusted. But I don’t trust the internet. I believe there are a million other factors in play and I believe there is an adult out there who was raised exactly how I’m raising my kids and he/she is a shitty person and his/her spouse/coworker/neighbor is blaming his/her shittiness on the fact that his/her Mom was selfish enough to have hobbies outside of parenting. Or maybe this shitty adult is self-aware and sees the conflicts in their life and blames them on having a Mom that didn’t make their baseball games are priority.

I promise you. That adult exists. Times a million.

Whatever you’re doing as a parent? There are millions of adults who blame what you’re doing for their failures and millions that blame it for their success.

Basically – we’re screwed.

Instead – why doesn’t our society stop attributing every flaw in every adult to something their parents did? Yes. Parents are important in the development of humans. But they are only important for 18 years and many humans lives another 50-70 years after that. So maybe there are other influences at play? And sometimes parents DO one thing, but DEMONSTRATE another. And sometimes teachers are more influential. Or friends. And sometimes genetics counterbalance everything we do as parents. I may do my damnedest to parent so one of my genetic traits doesn’t manifest but it probably won’t work.

And as parents? Let’s be kind to ourselves. Follow your gut. Don’t ignore advice, there’s a lot of good stuff out there, but don’t think that your child’s success as a human is all up to your parenting. And don’t feel bad if you suddenly think maybe you’re doing something wrong. Change things. Don’t change things. But don’t be too hard on yourself if the internet is telling you what you’re doing is wrong. Parents raised kids for generations without articles online, trust your instincts. And if your kids turn out to be shitty humans? Maybe some of it is your fault. But not all of it. They make their own decisions, let them take some responsibility for their shittiness too. It’s only fair.

Random Bits Of Randomness

I have all these bits of nothing to write about today so I’m breaking out the old blogging trope: The Bulleted List. ENJOY.

  • Did I used the word “trope” right?
  • I’m taking D’s sister’s bridal portraits today and OH MY GOD I AM SO NERVOUS. This was kind of an afterthought – she’ll obviously get pictures taken of herself on her wedding day. But she’s doing a trial run of hair and makeup and they thought it might be nice to take some Bride Only shots in different places today for her parents. So, I’m trying not to be a lot of pressure on myself about it, but I’ve never done anything THIS IMPORTANT before I’m just just so worried! EEK.
  • Nikki is playing u10 soccer again this year but this year she’s one of the oldest girls, I think even the only one that played u10 last year. u10 is the year things change in our league, more serious penalties (offsides etc) and a goalie and a bigger field. This coach (not the same wonderful coach we had last year) is taking it very seriously and I’m not quite ready for this transition. The phrasing was even used once, “This is not about fun, this is about winning.” What age did sports get serious for your child? He scheduled 8+ hours of soccer this week Mon-Thursday. The only thing that thwarted that schedule was fields being used, but it was his intent. To me? This is too much. But I know at some point sports go from “fun” to “serious” and maybe this is the age?
  • I’ve not run much recently. There are several valid reasons and a handful of not-so-valid reasons. I’m looking forward to getting back on track next week assuming I can catch up on my sleep this weekend. Late nights laundry (lice), sick kids, meetings, book clubs, soccer, etc has made the last two weeks tricky as I’ve not been getting to bed as early as I’d like. I’ve had two nights this week where I’ve been up past 10 and since I need to be up by 3:30 on mornings I run, my need for sleep has trumped my need for a run. Not the best way to start off my training schedule for my 100K, but not the worst way either. Here’s to hoping next week is boring and I can get all the runs in that I want/need.
  • I binged watched How To Get Away With Murder over the last several weeks – especially when I was caring for my sick daughter – and OMG. How did anyone watch that in real time? I couldn’t have handled having to wait a week between episodes. It did get a little predictable towards the end in that I kept thinking, “Okay – what is the big twist that will end THIS episode?” And you stop believing anything the show proposes as “true” unless it’s shown you it as a flashback. I do kinda hate shows and movies like that, where the “shock” of a twist is more important that dependable characters or plots. The twists started getting a little unshocking, so much so that the death in the season finale didn’t even make me gasp. But still! LOVED IT! And I really hope Oliver plays a bigger part in this season, they introduced a hefty “twist” involving him but it could easily be used as a device to get rid of his story too, so we’ll see. I’m hoping the severity of the twists isn’t what drives me away from the show like Scandal did. You can keep people tuned in and NOT make them roll their eyes in the process, right?
  • So E has started his JUNIOR YEAR OF COLLEGE. Don’t we all feel old now? He was only home for a few days in the beginning and the end of the summer as he had an internship in Indianapolis. Since he’s the president of his fraternity he had to be back on campus early for all of the Greek Life shenanigans (his University is artsy and cooky and liberal so the Greek world is much different there than on typical college campuses) but classes started Monday and I miss him terribly. Life is insane and busy for him, I know, but holy crap I wish I could talk to him every day. I hate not knowing the minutia of his life and it’s the hardest part about watching him growing up, not knowing the silly things like: What did he wear to school today? What did he eat for breakfast? It’s weird how lost I feel not knowing the mundane elements of his life. WAH. MY BABY.

And thus ends the Random Bits of Randomness.

Struggling with the words…

All morning I’ve been writing and saving drafts and re-writing new drafts and deleting those and re-writing even NEWER drafts and saving those and…well…you get the point.

And yet…YET…I still have nothing to publish here.

Part of this was inspired by a great conversation at book club last night that ended too late for me to fully process my thoughts. It never ends well when I try to process them AS I write the blog post. As evidenced by the 42 drafts I’ve already saved this morning.

But Part of this is that the scope of what’s on my mind is SO WIDE, and I don’t really know how to either A) Compartmentalize it or B) Focus it in a logical manner yet. So it’s like: LET’S DISCUSS ALL OF THE MAJOR THINGS ON MY MIND AT ONE TIME and basically it’s like a spiritual dump onto this blog.

SO! Instead, I’m going to see if any of you guys are thinking about similar things or if you have thoughts on them and maybe I can try to organize and compartmentalize better to break these thoughts up into several entries instead of one giant unorganized word dump.

1) What do you think about fear-mongering as it relates to religion? There are a lot of fundamentalists around here who are part of some of those movements convinced that bible predicts an economic collapse this Fall. They are spreading this stuff like wildfire and – in my opinion – creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. This type of fear-mongering MAKES ME ANGRY and I can’t really put into words why or how to deal with it. Do you see that type of thing in your circle? If not – where should my family and I move so we’re not surrounded by it because it is keeping me up at night.

2) Speaking of fear-mongering, how about seeing it on the news? This inflammatory: OUR COUNTRY IS FALLING APART AND WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE! type of “journalism”? Because it’s making me more and more angry and I’m having a hard time ignoring it. Also? How do I stop from become bitter towards the people who LOVE THE SHIT out of that kind of journalism? It’s like some of my friends and family ENJOY tragedies that allow them to say, “SEE! I told you! Our country is going down the toilet! HAHAHAHAH!” I see them CELEBRATING tragedy because it supports their point and I just am really struggling with that.

3) With all of this conflict I find trying to keep my circles diverse, so that I can learn from people not like me, I start to wonder: IS IT WORTH IT? At what point do you just start “unfollowing” people who say stuff that upset you? Because then you created this uniform exposure to the world and you trick yourself into believing everyone agrees with you. BUT HOLY CRAP, it would be nice to silence those voices that upset me. Where is that line? Where do you draw the line to make sure you’re not creating a homogenous view on the world, but where you keep from getting upset every time you open facebook and see a biblical fundamentalist demanding we all take our money out of the stock market because it’s going to crash. (BECAUSE WE ALL TOOK OUR MONEY OUT.) Where is that line between filtering out the negative but blinding yourself to other viewpoints? Do I care where the line is? Do I maybe just want to blind myself to everything else just so I can be a little more happy?

Okay. DISCUSS. And if you don’t discuss, that’s okay. Maybe another day of processing will help me organize my thoughts better.

My Secret Love

I love a lot of things. Harry Potter. Donuts. Office Supplies. Superhero TV and Movies. I talk about those things ALL THE TIME. But there’s something else I love that – weirdly – I don’t reference a lot. And I’m not sure why.

I love stand-up comedy.

The love started back in the days of a certain now-hated comedian from the 80s. I watched one of his specials with my Grandmother and laughed my ASS off. I didn’t really know much about the field or the genre so I just kinda sat on that love for years until random things would pop up, like radio adds for comedians coming to town. I popped into a few shows, maybe once a year, a comedy clubs and loved it all but it wasn’t until I discovered the Nerdist Podcast that I truly started feeding my love of stand-up comedy.

Chris Hardwick is a stand-up comedian who does these weekly podcasts, and early on he did a lot of his interviews with other stand-up comedians so it submerged me into the world quickly and it’s been a love ever since. I don’t necessarily go see stand-up shows at the local comedy club, but I watch specials whenever I can and I have three I’ve watched recently that I recommend highly. I am ordering them from least offensive to most offensive. Because – for some reason – I can’t watch grown-up tv shows that show too much sex or violence, but I can watch offensive stand-up comedy no problem. I think that’s the power of this type of performance, it makes you uncomfortable and that’s why it’s funny. And it’s not visual like with nudity or violence, so I stomach it better I guess? Either way – I will give you appropriate warnings. I hope.

FIRST: Is Tig Notaro. I’ve loved her for years and am still in mourning over the cancellation over her podcast – Professor Blastoff. I actually listened to the podcast from episode 1 to the end starting sometime last year and I highly recommend everyone do the same. She hosted it with two other stand-up comedians and I adored it. BUT ANYWAY…She just released her hour special with HBO and it’s GREAT. NOW…I will say this…because I listened to her podcast I had heard some of the stories and jokes in other variations before but it was still fantastic. And it’s PG so if you have fragile sensitivities like I do, it won’t make you squirm too much.

HOWEVER – she does have this “gimmick” she does that you’ve probably heard about by now, but I do worry that if you haven’t it might catch you off guard. I hate to ruin it if you don’t know it’s coming (I knew it was coming) but I do feel like I should say that you might want to watch it first before sharing it with your kids. Although my kids loved it and the gimmick actually gave us a chance to talk about a lot of issues related to the human body.

SECOND: Aziz Ansari. DO NOT WATCH THIS WITH YOUR KIDS. Mostly what’s offensive about this show is the language. But holy crap, it made me laugh my ass off. He talks a lot about dating and being single and oddly, I still found it hilarious even though I haven’t been dating or single in well over a decade. Still. SO FUNNY. If you can tolerate harsh language and sex talk then check it out.

THIRD: Tim Minchin. This show will offend anyone who has any religious sensitivities whatsoever. I almost feel terrible for loving it, but holy crap, I love it so much. Tim Minchin is a fascinating person, I’ve listened to interviews of his which I always love (I’ve linked to his commencement speech here before if you want to watch something more polite of his first) because he speaks very calmly and rationally about the lack of religion in his life, so I think that’s why I handle his harsh comedy about the same stuff better even though I typically don’t like making fun of religion.

But y’all – if you’re not sensitive to that type of stuff? His show is genius. He wrote these hilarious songs that he performs with a full orchestra which makes powerful lyrics involving the Pope and frequent uses of the f-word that much more hilarious.

If you’re not into stand-up comedy? Don’t bother with any of this. (Except maybe Tig’s show. She’s just great.) But if you do? Or you think you do? Check them out. They represent three very different types of comedian so you’ll get a good feel for what you may or may not like. Also? Check out the Nerdist podcast. I adore Chris Hardwick and after 700+ shows I’m convinced he’s the best interviewer that has ever existed in the history of time.

The One Where I Team Up With My Christian Friends.

I wrote a wordy post on Facebook yesterday about how I feel about this whole Ashl3y M@dison client/customer leak. (I’m not using the exact name because GOD FORBID I end up on a google search page for the list.) And the more I think about it, the more I feel I didn’t use all the words I wanted to use and this…my friends…is why I have a blog.

I know there are people out there who – for entertainment value – just sat scrolling through lists (especially when they started getting posted for individual states) to see if they knew anyone on them. Or specifically searching for people they knew. And as a very light-hearted, not-well-thought-out task, I guess part of me can see how you mind end up doing it. It’s a wreck-on-the-highway response. If you stopped and thought “Do I really want to see a dead body?” you probably wouldn’t look, but your instinct is to look before you think it through.

But I’ve seen all sides of infidelity intimately and it is an ugly, ugly thing that has many facets and complications and causes pain in wide ripples from the centerpoint. There is no part of me that wants to know if my neighbor or my doctor or my mayor was on that list. And even if that person was on that list, does that mean they cheated? And if they did does that mean I’m better than them somehow because I’ve been faithful to my husband?

No. No. and HELL FREAKIN’ NO.

It’s funny, this frenzy of search and commenting has been bugging me since the list was leaked and I started hearing whispers of people finding names they didn’t expect on it. OR WORSE: I heard comments like, “Well, I knew I’d find THAT person on it.” And to me? That comment? Is one that really bothers me. Because that means this person’s marriage has been discussed before in your world. And you have no problem being publicly candid about your opinions about that marriage. We all know marriages in jeopardy, but to reference that in a public manner just seems to be dumping unnecessary negative energy into the universe.

This has been eating at my brain for days and then – funnily – several of my Christian friends posted on Facebook about how they’re unhappy seeing delight or judgement in people reading these lists. Lots of reminders of people not to cast stones if they’re not without sin and I stood up and screamed a loud, “AMEN!”

I was liking posts about judgement and forgiveness from my Christian friends all over Facebook yesterday. YES. Let’s not judge! YES. Let’s not forget about the power of forgiveness and YES. Let’s MIND OUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS.

Okay, maybe none of them said exactly that, but there were mentions of things being worthy of God’s attention, but not ours. So why don’t we make sure our own hands are clean before we talk about how dirty someone’s else’s are.

AMEN.

I just don’t see the fascination. Maybe it’s because I have seen the pain infidelity cause up close. (In a past life, many moons ago.) Maybe it’s because I can’t find anything about that funny or entertaining. Maybe because I don’t want to know if my neighbor signed up for that website because I like having relationships with people and not aware of their dirty laundry. Maybe because I’m hiding a whole crap load of dirty laundry and I don’t want people thinking about that every time they talk to me.

I have given up on all expectation of privacy in today’s age. Not that I don’t think I deserve it, I do, but I’ve given up on thinking it can be a reality. I just don’t anymore. The most I can do is to give other people their privacy but not scrolling through lists of hacked data. I’m hearing a lot of “well, they shouldn’t have signed up if they didn’t want people to know,” and that’s unfair. Have you ever bought p0rn? (Another google term I don’t want linked to my blog. It’s already blocked by some military contractors, I’d rather it not be blocked in general.) Maybe sex t0ys? Do you need a prescription for an STD? Not that any of these things should cause you shame, but they are private things you might not want the whole world to know. Somewhere, someone has information stored on you in digital form on you and your habits and it’s not necessarily anything bad, but it’s stuff you’d like to remain PRIVATE. What if that list got hacked? Would you then regret scrolling through the hacked Ashl3y M@dison list?

I don’t worry about humanity after terrorist attacks because there are a LOT of humans on this planet who would never do anything that terrible. I do, however, worry about humanity when I see so many average people jokingly searching through lists for people they know, and then casting judgements on the masses of people on that list. I’m hoping they didn’t think about how terrible it would be to actually SEE a dead body when they’re rubbernecking on the highway. What if you find your Dad on that list? Or your boss? Or your preacher? Then will you find it funny? Once you see a dead body, you can’t unsee it. So why don’t we all just keep our eyes on the road and send positive energy in the form of thoughts and prayers out into the universe and hope that the family and friends of the people involved in that wreck, find the peace they need.