Social Media Isn’t Fun Anymore

Social media has been slowly losing its appeal to me over the last year or so.

It started with Facebook. Facebook, for me, used to be a place to share events with friends, whether they were big or small, and support one another, or be sarcastic (I have a whole group of friends that relate sarcastically, but we all know it’s out of fun).

But then it started to turn. It started with the grammar police, but those comments are usually funny to me, so long as it’s intended that way.

Then it moved on to friends who felt the need to “educate” each other, even when it wasn’t necessary. Sometimes, I just want to comment on something that just happened or annoyed me. I don’t need your “helpful” advice as to why said event happened. Chances are I’m probably already aware of the why, I just wanted to blow off a little steam. For example, I spent the better part of the morning arguing with the bank over a mistaken transaction that was cleared up. I posted on Facebook that I had spent a frustrating morning arguing with the bank over something that was a technicality. I didn’t need a long, lost acquaintance to advise me that “it was bank policy…blah blah blah…” Don’t you think I probably already knew that?! I had just been arguing with the bank, remember? But hey, thanks for the education. Now we all know how “smart” you are.

And when Facebook turned political…dear God, don’t get me started!

Now even blogging, which used to feel like a “safe” place, is changing. When I first started blogging, about 5 years ago (I know, I was late to the party), the “blogosphere” was full of people sharing common interests and common ideas. To tell the truth, I started blogging because, as an unpublished writer, I was told I needed a platform, and blogging was the best way to do it, at that time. And I realized that I actually liked sharing ideas and making blogging friends.

But that, too, has changed. More and more bate and click blogs are showing up, and it doesn’t feel as genuine anymore. Especially when the trolls started showing up. And there are metrics and tricks to get more followers. It seems more and more like smoke and mirrors rather than genuine appreciation.

I just joined Twitter, and haven’t done much with it yet. Though I’ve noticed that people will follow you whether you “tweet” or not. Again, it seems like people are just trying to get followers. Why would you follow someone who never tweets? It’s flattering, but unexplainable.

It’s odd to me that while the internet is expanding, our social circles are shrinking. Something is wrong with that dynamic. We need people and conversation. No matter how you package it, Social Media is not really a conversation. Social Media is a vacuum of ideas that just get recirculated and never really discussed or solved.

In the long run, it hasn’t gotten me a platform, and quite frankly, I feel guilty making “friends” with bloggers and then asking them to buy my book. (By the way, I’m not published yet, so you have nothing to worry about.)

All of this is enough to make me want to close-up shop, and start making phone calls to friends, and writing letters. Remember those?

Has anyone else noticed the shift in Social Media? What’s been your experience? Are you in it for the long haul?

Who Knew I Was A Cool Parent?

Most of the time, I feel like a dinosaur.

I still own a flip phone (my friend tells me I should donate it to the Smithsonian), I prefer talking rather than texting, I don’t drive a car (they won’t let epileptics have a license – with good reason), I’m always at least one season behind in styles and technology.

I even parent in an old-fashioned style: my kids don’t have cell phones (ages 11 & 15 – though the 15 yr old will probably get one this year), they don’t have ipads, or the latest in fashions either.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we live in a relatively wealthy area, but we aren’t wealthy. My husband and I joke all the time that we’re bring the property values down. My kids probably won’t go to Ivy League schools, like many of their classmates, unless they get a full ride scholarship. They don’t get to join every club and every sport around…it just isn’t affordable. And I’ve always felt a little guilty about that…not enough to keep me awake at night, but enough for it to bother me.

I am not the definition of a “cool mom.”

So, when my daughter had a friend spend the night this weekend, she “allowed” me to hang out with them. Actually, I told her that she could have a friend over, but that I wasn’t going to go hide in the bedroom, and be pushed out of the living room, so that she and her friend could take over the TV and the living room.

It was one of the few chances I got to talk to her and her friend. Since I don’t drive, I miss out on eaves-dropping on their conversations while running them from place to place. As we sat on the couch, channel surfing, I tried not to insert myself into their conversation, unless I was invited. I even waited until the next day for my daughter to explain some of the slang they were using, including one term that in my generation (GenX) meant something completely different than it does now.

My daughter has told her father and I that she tells her friends that her parents are “cool.” Truthfully, I thought she was just giving us lip-service for the next time she screws up. But even her friend mentioned that she heard we were “cool.” (Unless her friend is in on the scheme – but I’m choosing to believe that’s not the case).

Apparently, my husband and I have decent taste in music, and that scores big points. And I guess it helps that my husband is a gamer, and the two of them can talk for hours about RPGs and stuff like that. I have always been a little jealous of that.

I guess it’s nice to be “cool” in your kids’ eyes. I mean, we all say it doesn’t matter, and we’re the parent and not their friend. But I think it does matter to us that they like us. Hopefully, they’ll like us enough to come to us with the hard questions, and the hard problems of life.

Who knows how much longer I’ll be “cool.” I’d better enjoy it while I can.

Words on the page

I would express my opinion

But someone would be offended.

So, I keep my mouth shut and try to love on people,

But that offends you too

Because I’m not doing enough.

There is no winning

There is only losing.

We are a symptom of being self-absorbed.

We’ve been reduced to our most animal instincts

Of survival – get them before they get you.

But the problem is we aren’t animals

We are humans…meant to love.

But no one wants to hear that,

For fear that there’s an agenda behind it.

So, we sit in a room, not talking, not sharing, not discussing

Because there is no answer that we can agree on.

Many of us won’t speak out

For fear of backlash.

Many of us retreat

Because we’re tired of conflict.

Many of us will shut you out

Because all the yelling is making us sick.

Many of us will be accused of standing idly by

No matter what we do.

Many of us know that this has happened before

And yet we’ve survived

Whether we deserved to or not.

Many of us are praying, quietly,

because we can’t see anything else to do.

Summer is Near the End…and it’s Mayhem!

It’s nearing the end of summer, only a couple weeks until school starts again.

And it seems that ALL the rules have been thrown out of the window:

  1. Bedtimes don’t exist.
  2. Mealtimes are never on schedule, if cooked at all.
  3. Kids have stopped following any rules.
  4. I seem to have lost all most of my authority.
  5. Being active is non-existent, partly because it’s either hotter than blazes or it’s pouring rain.
  6. The kids are torn between being excited to go back to school to see friends, or dreading having to go back to school because…well…it’s school.
  7. Screen time limits seemed to have run a muck.
  8. Fighting has reached an all time high.
  9. Beds aren’t made and laundry isn’t done.
  10. And Mom is just plain tired.

The only ray of hope left was back to school shopping, and the thought of a new wardrobe. But even that had to be pushed back a week because the car needed a new set of tires!

So, we are counting the days, until life goes back to normal.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned this summer is that our family NEEDS a schedule. Otherwise, we run wild when left to our own devices.

Anybody else ready for school to start again?

Am I Doing Enough for My Kids?

Every so often, I get this panicked feeling that I’m not doing enough for my kids to help them succeed. #raisingteens

We’ve never been an “over-achieving” family. I’ve written about raising average kids before and how I am perfectly fine with that. I don’t need them to be doctors or lawyers, or physicists or to run their own technology empire. If they do, that’s fabulous, but if they don’t, then I’m good with that too. I want them to be happy in whatever career they choose. And I want them to choose something that allows them to pay their own bills, and maybe provides them a house with an extra room for me and my husband in our golden years (A girl can dream can’t she?).

But I’m talking about MY responsibility to THEIR future.

I have a 15-year-old. And suddenly, I feel like time is running out to teach her everything I need to teach her before she takes on the world on her own, or at least partially on her own (I don’t plan on kicking her out the front door the day after high school graduation).

While a lot of our youth seem to be floundering, with their noses stuck in their computer screens or smartphones, I worry that we haven’t done enough to inspire them to want better for their lives. But I don’t want to push or nag either, because I’ve seen the results of that scenario too.

But there are things looming in the not so distant future: SATs, driver’s license, job, college applications, scholarships to find. My rational mind tells me that this isn’t going to come all at once, and that there will be waves of responsibility and opportunity that come her way, and we’ll deal with it when we get there. But what if I fail at the parenting part and miss those deadlines. Then what?! The consequences for missed opportunities are much greater at this age than they were at age 10.

To look back now, potty training was a breeze compared to the weight I feel at the moment. By the way, my condolences to anyone going through potty training – it was, until now, the one part of the whole “parenting thing” where I felt completely unprepared. There was no manual, and if there was, I swear my kids didn’t read it! LOL

When I approach my teen, I’m met with eye rolls, and push back, and a lot of silence. Maybe I’m trying too hard. Maybe this too, shall pass. But I need to find the teen manual and find it quick. We all read “What to Expect when You’re Expecting” before our kids were born. Is there a “What to Expect when You’re Expecting a Teen?” Because I’d really like to have it on hand for reference right about now.

So, to my fellow parents of teens, am I alone in this? Will this, like potty training, happen when they are ready? Or should I rip the training pants off now, and spend the next few months cleaning up the puddles?

Another Dinner Fail

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I’m not a fan of cooking dinner. I have no problem eating it…even planning it doesn’t bother me. It’s the actual execution that trips me up.

And nothing throws a wrench in my dinner plans worse than when I open the meat, and it smells rancid! That’s the worst!

I’m not good at throwing things together. That’s my husband. He can make dinner from virtually nothing! It’s amazing and awe inspiring. But he was at work, and it was my responsibility to cook.

I had planned Easy Beef Stroganoff, made with ground beef, cream of mushroom soup and sour cream, for the most part (thank you fellow bloggers for the recipe).

So, I quickly searched the internet for some sort of pasta dish made with the same ingredients, so as not to mess up my weekly meal plan. But the only one I found called for a shredded 3-cheese blend, of which I had none.

Needless to say, I basically ended up with Stroganoff Noodles, minus the beef. Yuck! Stroganoff really needs either beef or chicken to make it taste decent.

Chalk it up to another dinner fail. #dinnerfail

I wonder what my kids will say about my cooking in the years to come. Will they remember these fails fondly or will my culinary short-comings be things of legend that they tell their kids: “One time, my mom made us eat ____________. It was horrible!”

Either way, I will own the dinner fails.

Besides, it was National Fast Food Day today (didn’t know that was an actual thing until I saw it on FB – so it must be true – LOL), so it was only fitting we ended up at the drive-thru.

Hope your dinner was better than mine 😊

Career Advice to the SAHM

First, let me say that I would not go back and change my decision to be a SAHM. It’s been rewarding and challenging, and they’ve driven me crazy a lot of days, but I wouldn’t take it back if you paid me (although getting paid to be a #SAHM would be a great idea).

For my husband and I, it made more sense for me to stay at home, rather than what it cost for 2 kids in daycare. Aside from wanting to be a SAHM, the financial aspect was really the bottom line for us.

That being said, what I wish someone would have told me before I made the decision to stay at home is this: Keep up with your industry, whatever it may be, especially if it’s a technology driven field.

Fast forward, and my kids are now 15 and 11.

Before kids, I was a graphic designer. I loved doing that. It was fulfilling both to my creative side and my task-oriented side. But I happily set it on the back-burner when my daughter came along, some 15 years ago. I did some side jobs here and there, mostly volunteer work: the newsletter for my church, and any other flyer, ticket, program or brochure they needed, and I volunteered for a Pregnancy Center where I helped with their “Walk for Life” campaign. Again, with brochures and posters.

But technology changes in the blink of an eye, and after only a few years, the graphic design apps I used were quickly becoming obsolete. I still have the graphic design knowledge, just not the daily experience with the new applications. I didn’t have the money to invest to retrain myself or invest in the new programs, because I was investing in diapers and formula, and later in braces and glasses and music lessons for the kids.

Graphic Designers need a portfolio of their best work. My portfolio is filled with my children’s Citizenship Awards, and Soccer Pictures, and Homemade Cards for Mother’s Day.

My advice to new moms, or moms with young children who have stepped away from the workforce, is don’t let your special skills fall by the wayside. Your college education will always be there. But if you have a specialized field, keep up with it. Do whatever you can to stay with the technology. Take classes at the local college or adult school. Check in to your local library and see if they offer any refresher courses.

If you don’t, you will pay a price. Finding a job will be much harder when you want to get back into your field of interest. Most employers don’t mind so much if someone took time off to raise a family, so long as they kept up with their industry, or if they took a few years off (maybe 3 or 4).

But for those of us who took longer (up to 10 years), remember that the competition is tough out there. There are lots of women who didn’t take the time off standing in line for the same job you are.

If you can still talk the talk and walk the walk, it will go a long way to getting a foot in the door.

You can do it. I believe there are people that WANT mom’s to work for them, because those employers realize that Moms have a lot at stake, and are hard workers…they’re moms.

How about my fellow SAHM’s? What career advice would you give? Did you find it hard getting back into the workforce after taking time off to raise your kids?