Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Six Weeks in a Desert

Lent begins tomorrow and so I begin my annual Facebook Fast.

My second grade teacher at St. Joseph's parochial school, Sister Judith, told us that we were to give something up for Lent so we would understand the suffering of Christ as he was crucified.  (She was not known for her warm demeanor, but for the Vulcan death grip she applied to unruly children.)

Somehow I don't think not being able to see funny cat videos on Facebook or take a quiz to see which Disney princess I would be (Belle) quite equates to being having your hands and feet being nailed to a cross. But giving up Facebook is hard for me.  And I don't think a loving God, such as my man Jesus, really wants me to experience the same pain He did. (That and He sometimes laughs at my status updates about grumpy teenagers because he remembers how moody I was.)

The first year I gave up Facebook for Lent it was mostly to prove I could.  I guess my friends and family felt I shared a little too much in my timeline posts and  didn't believe I'd last the 40 days.  Well, I fasted in that internet desert of no status updates and rose again as a blogger.

Last year I didn't Facebook fast--I thought I'd try a six week program of exercise and healthy eating instead.  That lasted about a week and a half.

The year before that, however, proved enlightening.  I had been Facebook-less for about four weeks and had convinced myself I'd never do it again.  What was I getting out of it, anyway, besides being cat-video-free?  In a bout of boredom I started perusing Pinterest (another internet time-suck).  There I snooped through my teen daughter's boards (which in Pinterest-ese is a grouping of like things, or "pins") titled "bucket list." On that board was a pin about meeting her favorite author.  Hmm, that was kind of interesting.  I found the website for the current author of choice and saw she was doing a tour to promote her newest title.  AND she would be a bookstore in Seattle in a few weeks time. So I took my daughter and friend to see the author she loved and became, for one short moment, not the worst mother ever.  All because I'd given up Facebook.

It may not have been what Sister Judith had in mind, but it was pretty darn cool.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Writing from the Dark Side

The other night I watched a movie about a woman who was having a hard time being a stay-at-home parent ("Mom's Night Out"--don't waste your time, even if you get it free from the library like I did). She found herself hiding from her kids in the closet, sobbing into her glass of wine, until she learned to deal with her stress by writing a blog.  Then her days were filled with sunshine and rainbows.

If only life was more like the movies...

This made me realize, however, that most of these so-called "mommy bloggers" are parenting small children, babies to elementary-school-age.  You don't see many bloggers waxing poetic about the joys of teenage offspring--why do you suppose that is?
Mother/Son Bonding

I, myself, am up to my eyeballs in teenagers (well, more like several inches over my head, since two of the three are taller than me) so I have a few ideas on the subject.

1) Teenagers are on the internet.  They do not take kindly to their parents broadcasting to the world-wide-web that Johnny just got his first pimple, or that that Suzy is hormonal and is being a major pain in the butt.  If you want to live with your offspring for the next several years without WWIII taking place in your living room, you just can't even go there.  If you want to write about your kids, your only option is to create decoy titles for your posts, like "Why the 80's Were So Cool" or "Retirement Planning for the Active Mom."  Throw them off the scent, as it were.

I don't know you.
2)  Raising teenagers is not for sissies.  While writing about young children can involve all sorts of cute and funny stories, it's hard to come up with a delightful anecdote of how your sixteen-year-old slammed the door in your face after yelling he hates you, or a heart warming tale of a teen daughter freaking out because you went into her room after dirty laundry.  It's sometimes dark on this side of parenting.  You say things you don't mean, you yell, and you make mistakes.  There comes a day when you realize you only have a year or two left to turn this swirling mass of hormones and body odor into a functioning adult. And you panic. We are not laughing at these events, and quite honestly we'd rather no one else knew about them.

3)  We are crazy busy.  Don't get me wrong, parents of littles are also trying to juggle all sorts of stuff: tying shoes, finding binkies, washing load after load after load of tiny socks and shirts.   You'd think parents of teens, with their kids half grown and able to feed themselves,  would have all the time in the world to spin tales of their parenting glories. But right now we're just trying to keep it together as we drop off and pick up, drop off and pick up, fending off major teenage attitude all the while. We are coordinating school sports with driver's ed and dinner and the tenth load of laundry filled with stained team uniforms and the oldest's favorite shirt.  We are filling out forms for college applications and graduation requirements and the permission for the HIV class at school. And we are reminding (nagging), counseling (bossing), and reminding/nagging again trying to make sure our kids get it all done.  The teenage years are crunch time for parents--did I mention they have to be functioning adults in a year or two?

Don't Talk to Me
I don't consider myself a mommy blogger because I sometimes write about my kids, anymore than I ever considered myself to be a soccer mom because my kids all played soccer.  I did a quick search for blogs about parenting teens and they all sounded equally serious and dull.  These years can be tricky, but if you don't have a sense of humor as a parent, you'll never survive.  I once told my son that getting through his teen years was going to require either military school for him or AA for me.  Luckily we didn't have to resort to either.  Yet.