Get Off My (Optimistic) Lawn

Get Off My (Optimistic) Lawn

It happens every once in awhile… I’d say about every two or three months. Just when I think I’m doing okay as a parent/wife/human. I’m sitting at my computer, sifting through my various social media outlets, and I see an article.

I think, “Oh man, I know exactly what that one’s going to say just from the headline.”

I think, “I should not click that. I do not need to click that; I already know what it’s going to say.”

I think, “What if the title’s just click bait and it maybe just brings a different perspective?”

I think, “Look, my finger is clicking on that link right now. Huh.”

I think, “Oh, look at that. It’s exactly what I thought it would be. Now I feel like punching something. Who am I kidding? can’t punch things without crying, that hurts.”

And then I question all of the parenting decisions I’ve ever made, fret over the state of the world, and wonder if my kids will be capable of becoming rational adults, even though I know that they will be… even though I’m generally pretty confident in the decisions I make, which I have fretted over time and again…

Which is, apparently, a flawed symptom of my existence as a Gen Y/Millennial parent.

You see, this article will have certain requirements, that will almost always be fulfilled. They are:

  1. Children who play outside in the neighborhood until the sun sets, and NOT A SECOND SOONER.
  2. A mother who is casually smoking a cigarette in the kitchen after sufficiently hurricane-proofing her home so that children cannot come in before said sunset.
  3. Total or near-total omission of any positive aspects that Inherently Evil Modern Parenting has brought to the world.
  4. Exaggerated examples of spoiled, lazy children who will surely bring about the apocalypse via their Youtubes and all things “on fleek.”

What article am I talking about? Why, let’s take a walk down the lane toward something I call the “good ole days lament” article. (I mean, I’m a Modern Parent, so I’m probably going to ask you to hold my hand while we walk, and I might ask you about your day and your friends, so I hope that doesn’t put you off too much.)

Now, I’m not going to pretend to be omniscient and say I know exactly what goes through the heads of these authors. I think that general assumptions are one of the key flaws of the GODL blog post, anyway, so we’ll avoid that route. I did sit down to write, though, because the blog post I read got me GOOD AND RILED UP, so I’ve got to figure out an angle that I want to take.

Sure, I could link to that article and counter the author’s thoughts, point-by-point, but my point is that these articles are (mostly) the same, and that they are unhelpful. They make me throw up my hands and say, “All right. Okay, so… what? What then? Clearly this is my responsibility, right? Am I supposed to fully separate my daily life from my kids so that I can, what, focus my efforts on my home or my phone conversations? Do you want me to stop talking to my kid about the ins and outs of human socialization? Should I not talk to my kid about the importance of standing up to someone belittling another human? Or DOES ALL OF THIS HAVE TO HAPPEN WHILE DOING KNITTING (if child is female) OR WATCHING BOXING (if male) IN ORDER TO BE ACCEPTABLE AND AM I SUPPOSED TO BE SMOKING CIGARETTES RIGHT NOW!?”

Now, clearly, this is a common reaction of someone who has just read a blog post that makes her want to punch things… not a thoughtfully penned piece of written brilliance from a cool-headed intellectual… which is what I’d like to create/be… but, like most things, I land somewhere in the middle.

So, I’m going to take the middle ground, which is (usually) the proper approach to any hot topic, unless you’re trying to be inflammatory or you have written something immediately after reading something inflammatory without sitting and thinking about it a bit. This blog post you’re reading right here? We’re at about 50/50 want-to-punch-annoyed and thought-about-this-for-awhile-now-cool-headed.

My angle for this post is to talk to the people who read a GODL article and feel dismayed. To you, I say: “Did you make all of your parenting decisions willy-nilly? (probably not) Are you proud of the person you’re raising? (probably) Should your kid maybe help out a little more around the house or maybe play fewer video games? (I don’t know, I’m not living in your house) Do you think you’d feel better as a human if you walked uphill both ways in the snow and then told your kid to do the whole thing again by him/herself without a coat so that they can learn life skills while you make a phone call and wait for them at the top of the hill? (uhhhh)”

Okay, so maybe I’m still feeling a little snarky and punchy, but my point is this: If you feel okay with how you’re parenting, good. If you feel not-so-good about certain things, that’s also a good thing. Balance. Balance, balance, balance. If we get too complacent in our parenting, we lose some of the ability to really learn and teach our kids… and if we sit and lament about the good old days too much, we lose the ability to embrace incredibly important advances in parenting and social progress in general. I’m sure, life as a kid in the 60s and 70s was great (if you were lucky enough to land in a safe and healthy home), and I’m sure that life as a kid right now (same caveat as before) is great… and I’m sure that both times offered crappy aspects, too.

I don’t know a lot, but I do know that many of us are genuinely doing our best, and that if you want to come over and talk to me about how you’re worried about your kid’s friends/grades/soccer team/ballet class/soccer-ballet team, then by all means, go for it.

The good old days will always be haunting us and those damned kids today will always be “lazy and disrespectful”… granted, they might be disrespectful on hoverboards (like actual ones) and the lawns that we’re yelling from might be made from futuristic Mars grass, but it’s not going to stop.

I hope I can remember that someday when I’m rocking away in the bionic rocking chair I’ve had grafted to my body as I look out at the flying-car-highway at the end of the lane.

Cue the nervous babble.

Cue the nervous babble.

Everyone has something big going on for them that probably seems small and silly to someone else. I, for example, don’t care too much about fashion or makeup, so I have a hard time relating to big decisions about those types of things… but that doesn’t make them any less significant for other people.

I know that fashion and makeup can tie in with freedom of expression, creativity, and self-esteem… and those things are not little by any means.

All that being said, my super big thing right now is the fact that I just auditioned for a series of student-directed one acts at the university here in town. The performances will be around 30 minutes each, one night only, and directed by college students.

Why did I start out this blog post on the defensive? I didn’t plan to start it out that way… but here we are. I can’t help but feel like this big thing seems small to others… to people with higher levels of theatrical education or people who are embarking on missionary trips or curing cancer. No one has said anything to make me feel this way; I just do… which simply reinstates to me that this is a big thing for me, and that I should think about it.

So. Here I go, thinking. Brain-spouting? Mind-barfing?

I’m thinking about trying out for these shows when I was actually in college. I’m thinking about how I would think, “Ah, these are open up to the community? Like, anyone can just come in and audition for these?” I would see the same “older” (*cough* in their 30s *cough*) people audition every time and think I was somehow… better… because I was younger? Puke.

Obviously, I’m not proud of those thoughts, but they came slamming back to me yesterday when I cautiously walked into the same theater I used to flounce into, and met the friendly (also mildly amused) faces of a few college students in their element.

Frigging weird, you guys. Just so frigging weird.

As I filled out the form I’ve filled out so many times before, I’m writing down the information of a completely different person. My weight is higher, I actually said I wouldn’t change my hair, and I heartily hesitated before the “scantily clad” part. Then I had to write down my most recent theatrical experience… which was about seven years ago.

I think, at the heart of this, are the questions this experience brings up:

“Was I ever any good?”

“Was I just super lucky?”

“Did I spend five years as a Theatre major for nothing?”

“Was it just my boobs?”

Who knows? Sure, these questions are a little overblown; there’s a pretty good chance the answers all lie somewhere in the middle… but I’m thinking them nonetheless.

I’m going to drive up to the theater tonight and check a cast list for the first time in seven years. I’ll let y’all know how that goes.

Winter Poem

Winter Poem

Winter Poem

 

Once a move of pregnant desperation,

Now a meditation of nasal salvation.

As a tea smith prepares his favorite brew,

I, too, mix a potion that shall see me through.

 

Like the grand canyon, carved by the winds of time,

This solution will erode my sinuses of slime.

 

A staccato drip, with hopes of a steady stream,

So that I may breathe silently, through both nostrils, and dream.

 

I meet my gaze, through tears, saliva, and saline,

In the mirror ahead, with its Crest-speckled sheen.

And I nod, nod with mildly disgusted appreciation

For the opportunity to experience this sublime irrigation.

Rhinitis, sinusitis, with whichever ailment I am fraught,

At my side you’ll find my hero, my warrior, my Neti pot.

 

I would bow my head in thanks, if I could,

But my left nostril shall fill, well, perhaps if I stood…

No, no, that still isn’t good.

 

So, indeed! Two pillows tonight it shall be,

If not for the pot, I swear twould be three!

The Comfiest Fall Ever + Giveaway!

The Comfiest Fall Ever + Giveaway!

Big thanks to Katillia at Momma Sweet Pea Crochet for supplying a prize for this blog giveaway!

It’s a new year. It is not even remotely a new me. I still procrastinate. I still think about writing blog posts for myself and then forget… or decide to watch a show on Netflix… or decide to watch a different show on Netflix.

But, whatever. Here we are. I have given myself a resolution of writing AT LEAST one blog post a month. Just like I’ve given myself a resolution of reading AT LEAST one book a month. Both of these things are things I love to do… but am having a hard time fitting them into my current life.

(Watch me segue like a boss here guys.)

You know what I haven’t had a hard time doing? Fitting my new scarf into my life.

(Yeah. I just segued. I segued like someone riding a Segway from one topic to another in a quick, smooth fashion.)

I bought a new scarf this fall, from my longtime favorite crochet mastermind, Katillia. Katillia and I have met each other in-person a grand total of one time. One time, back in 2011 (I think?) we met at another friend’s house for a playdate… but we’d been internet friends on Facebook for at least a year before that, simply because our husbands were friends.

Isn’t that crazy? I don’t know, maybe it’s not. It feels crazy to me. The truth is, though, I interact with her via the internet on an almost daily basis. We were pregnant “together” with our first kids, and we’ve both watched each other become entrepreneurs over the course of the past five years. That’s awesome, and I’m genuinely grateful to have her in my life.

I kicked off fall by ordering a nice, comfy haul of wintery goodness from Katillia. A new scarf (I’d had my old one from her for almost 4 years), two “mug hugs,” and a coffee cozy. A coffee cozy that, on her suggestion, is modeled after the bowtie and jacket worn by Doctor Who’s 11th, doctor. She totally gets me.

 

katilliacollage1

 

So, I’m ready to spread the awesomeness that is Katillia’s crochet shop, Momma Sweet Pea Crochet. You can check out all of her awesome stuff on her Etsy shop here, and you can check out the adventures I’ve been having with my Fall Crochet Haul in this little picture series. You can ALSO win $25 worth of crochet from her shop, if you leave a comment on this blog post. Not on Facebook, but right here, in the comments section at the bottom… because this is a small business, a small blog giveaway, and I don’t get a whole lot of comments, so it’s going to make me feel extra good about myself.

 

katilliacollage2

 

Your assignment? In the blog comments, tell me what your favorite warm beverage is to drink in the winter. If you want extra entries, you can like both my and Katillia’s Facebook pages and leave comments on the post about today’s giveaway. That’s not hard, right? I’ll keep the giveaway open for one week, ending at 11:59 pm CST on Wednesday the 27th, and will choose a winner using a random number generator. Giveaway is valid in the US only.

May the most random winner win!

Hope

Hope

This is an old post that I wrote in 2012 after the Sandy Hook shootings. The website it was published on is no longer active, and I felt like it might be helpful to someone as we reel from all of the terrifying things that have happened in the past few weeks. 

You’d have to have been living under a rock if you missed all of the social media reactions to the shooting at Sandy Hook.  Even the mainstream news sources covered some of the most viral online activity.

If I’m going to be completely honest, I have to admit that I’ve been doing my best to find a rock big enough to live under.

When I found out, I just cried.  I cried on my husband, and cried when I took a shower, and I cried when I was by myself in the car.  As soon as I logged into Facebook, I knew I was going to have to avoid it for the rest of the day.  All of the reactions were what you would expect: anger, sadness, gun control protests, gun control support, cries for love, and cries for God.

Those were all to be expected, and for the most part, completely natural.  The reactions that I simply couldn’t handle reading, no matter how natural they were, however, were the ones of hopelessness.  I don’t know how many times I read the phrase “I’ve lost my faith in humanity.”

When I started seeing those, I had to start hiding every Sandy Hook-related post I saw, regardless of whether they were heartbreaking or inspirational.

You see, I’m about to have a baby.  In less than two weeks.  I can’t be reading posts proclaiming that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.  So I hide them.  I’ve said my prayers for the children and their families, and I’ve thought about them every day… but right now, I’m bringing a baby into that handbasket people are talking about, and I absolutely cannot accept that that basket is going anywhere but up.  Call me naïve, call me ignorant, but I refuse to accept that there is no hope for humanity.  You won’t get any logical argument out of me about this, either: I simply cannot accept it.  I can’t afford to accept it.

I know that this incident has brought up issues that absolutely need to be dealt with.  I know that certain things desperately need to be changed in order to prevent more horrifying situations like this from happening.  What I have to focus on right now, however, is that more than ever, we need hope.   I need hope.  And right now, I’m finding hope when I tuck Charlie in at night, and when Paul and I watch the baby in my stomach dance around.  I have to focus on what is beautiful and good and right in front of me, otherwise I’ll lose myself in anxiety and fear.

One of my least favorite blogging habits is the use of popular media as inspiration for a post… but I’m going to break one of my personal rules here.  Some of the last lines in the Christmas episode of Castle ended up being exactly what I needed to hear.  In the final segment, one of the homicide detectives revealed his fear of bringing a baby into the world, after seeing all of the horrific things that are in it.  The other detective responded with this:

“The world’s always falling apart, bro, since the beginning of time.  But having kids, making a family, that’s what keeps it together.”

And that’s what I needed.  I know that there are very serious issues out there that need to be dealt with, but what I need- right now– is hope.  I’m less than two weeks away from having a baby, and I refuse to let the first look it sees on its mother’s face be one of hopelessness and fear.