My Parenting Playlist: The Vinyl Edition

This post is made possible by support from the Center for Parent and Teen Communication. All opinions are my own.

Vinyl records, which were a big part of my childhood, are “in” again (go figure). The experience of listening to music on a record player was so different from our digital listening routines these days.

Transitions between songs are quieter with digital over vinyl. We can control things remotely (no walking across the room to pick up an actual needle and move it!). We can change the order of songs.

Real life (and real parenthood) are a little clunkier than digital. They’re more like vinyl — transitions are rougher and it takes more work to play the whole record.

Since my kids are 19 and 22, I feel like I’m on the last song of the LP record. Pretty soon, the album is going to be at its end, circling around without making any further sounds, waiting for me to move on.

Enough nostalgia for the 70s … let’s drop the needle and get started on a parenting playlist, with some help for the Center for Parent and Teen Communication.

Track 1: Life’s about more than grades

How do you know if your teen is happy? That’s one of the challenges of parenting teens. The way they express their emotions, their words, the “self” they present through social media (and in real life) are designed to present a carefully curated picture. Grades don’t define a teen, this author says. So true. My son was not one to worry about grades in high school As a former valedictorian, I didn’t get that. I worried he would not be a success as an adult. At 19, he has a certificate in automotive collision and works full-time, happily.

Track 2: Questions are OK

Teens want the answer to “who am I?” says this author (and they probably want to know it yesterday or at least NOW). But teenagers are changing so rapidly (I’m betting you, as an adult, don’t have some of your life choices pinned down). Some teenagers are also grappling with their sexual identity and may not be sure you will be accepting if they are unsure of their gender identity. Develop yourself a nice poker face and be prepared for unexpected questions. Our kids need a safe place to ask.

Track 3: Keep Your Cool

Well, isn’t THIS an easy one to advise you on now that we are empty nesters? Our house is so calm, with all the screaming and chaos behind us. “How you feel links to how you think,” says this author, and it’s so true! The best thing you can do for yourself to get through the challenge of parenting teens is to get your thoughts centered (because everything else will be conspiring to throw you off). Get a therapist or at least an objective friend. Equilibrium often seems out of grasp when parenting teenagers, but actively seek it, for your own sake. It’s especially hard when (imagine the needle in the groove between two songs now) …

…You can’t stop failure from happening!

That’s the point of Track 4: Failure’s gonna happen, and it’s not going to feel good for either of you

I call myself (now) a “recovering helicopter parent,” but I’m not proud of the micromanaging I did during my kids’ childhoods. I wanted my daughter to get the part in the play and my son to win the soap box derby. Newsflash — you don’t always win. Sometimes you didn’t put the work in. Other times the judges just want something else. That’s life, right? It’s the best (and only) laboratory for the rest of life that I know. Shield from from failure now, and it’s going to be more jarring when they inevitably stumble later.

Track 5: You can get through dinner without your phone

This snack encourages family dinners and family time. I have to admit I have not been a perfect role model about this, and I will pay the price, as will family ties. Stress management is a family affair, says this piece. It’s true, and trust me your teenager isn’t going to be the one setting it up.

Track 6: Hero to hypocrite

“Mom or Dad can be called a hero one minute and a hypocrite in the next breath,” says this author. OH YES. The things teens say may change rapidly within a matter of minutes. We parents may wonder what they meant the most. Ultimately, they’re still watching you. Be the adult they need, even if they won’t acknowledge it.

Track 7: Integrity is Key

Earlier this month, we all looked on in shock as the news broke that celebrities many of us admired had gone to expensive, unethical, and outlandish lengths to get their kids into prestigious schools. They used an intermediary to bypass the hard stuff: interviews, GREs, tryouts, the heartbreak of rejection letters. Even if you do everything else wrong. Even if this LP record was just a single, the “song” that would matter most is written here: INTEGRITY IS KEY.

My Parenting Playlist

My children both happened to be home at the same time recently (this is rare, because they live different places and just don’t make it home much). I was in my home office at the other side of the house. I heard them talking to each other … like real bona fide civil adults!

This was a moment I wasn’t sure — in the haze of juggling two children with very different personalities and takes on the world — I would ever see (hear, I guess).
The other thing about vinyl records is that you could turn them over and listen to a whole different set of things on the other side.

If you were to be designing the other side of my “Mom’s Album,” which of these “snacks” would be your tracks? Drop a note in the comment and let me know which one gets you thinking the most! (There are 18 more to choose from here.)

Look at the Center for Parent and Teen Communication as your “record store” for all the resources you need to figure out how to navigate the challenges (and joys — I promise there are some!) of life with teens.

Find them on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

Why I’m Not Laughing at the Tide Pod Challenge

These cookies look tasty enough to eat:

Tide Pod Challenge

Source: Pinner Punny Garrden

And I have it on good authority that these shots are delectable:

Tide Pod Challenge

Photo credit:


About The Tide Pod Challenge

I suspect my opinion on this may put me in a minority, as I am taking a fuddy-duddy, somewhat humorless approach. I’ll have to take being in the minority.

If You’ve Been Under a Rock

The Tide Pod challenge is one of the most recent in a string of “kid dare” challenges that have gained additional momentum thanks to social media and the internet. Participants in the challenge put laundry pods into their mouths (usually Tide brand) and film and/or stream themselves doing so. (Facebook and YouTube have begun removing any depiction of someone doing the challenge.) This history is also informative.

Why the Tide Pod Challenge Has Taken Off

Who’s to say what makes one stupid prank go viral while others falter? If I knew what makes things go viral, my blog numbers would be much better. I suppose it boils down, to an extent, to the fact that preteens and teens do unpredictable things for reasons adults often can’t discern. Attention, of course. “Because I can” probably ranks up there.

The Tide Pod challenge is not the first “kid dare” phenomenon of the Social Media age. Innocuous-sounding (but potentially deadly) “kid dares” have probably existed as long as there have been kids.

Cases in point of other kid (and adult) dares:

Chubby Bunny, which involves stuffing your mouth with marshmallows while uttering the phrase “chubby bunny.” Admittedly, I have had the Oprah story about a child’s death that was linked to playing Chubby Bunny in my head for years — this Snopes post provides details that I had not previously realized (like the fact that the progression of the events leading to the child’s death were different from what I had always thought). An adult is also documented as having a Chubby Bunny-related death, which is a reminder that it’s not just teens and preteens making regrettable choices.

The Cinnamon Challenge, which entails consuming a spoonful of cinnamon within 60 seconds without drinking anything (while filming/streaming). The Cinnamon Challenge is not without its dangers.

The Kylie Lip Challenge, one I just learned about today. Participants place their lips into a shot glass and create a vacuum, to achieve their intention of making their lips look plumper. Besides the dangers from shattered shot glasses that succumb to the pressure, apparently some challenge participants have become permanently disfigured (more in this Washington Post article or if you can’t get past the Post’s paywall, this PopSugar piece.).

Why the Collective Humor About the Tide Pod Challenge Irritates Me

The Tide Pod challenge has become the joke du jour on social media.

My beloved alma mater joked that they have made it an admissions criteria (or maybe they really did — I can’t tell if this is serious or not):

Tide Pod Challenge

And, predictably, the Darwin references have abounded. Here’s a favorite (and one of the kinder Tweets):

Tide Pod Challenge

Although I hate to give her clicks or more exposure for it, Tomi Lahren says participation in the Tide Pod challenge is an outgrowth of liberal parenting:

The left, which dictates popular culture, brainwashes young people into believing they live in a world where 64 gender options are up for selection, everything is free, Beyonce is a god-queen and eating detergent is funny. ~ Tomi Lahren

Maybe so, Tomi, but this parent who identifies as liberal has focused more on teaching acceptance, critical thinking and compassion, all of which were sorely lacking in your recent tweets about what our President reportedly termed “S-hole countries.” I’ll take the compassion, thank you very much.

The Biggest Irritant

Before the Tide Pod challenge became a viral social media phenomenon, laundry pods were proving dangerous. By November 2012, the year they were introduced, 500 children’s injuries had been documented related to chewing on or playing with the pods and they were declared harmful by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

I had been aware of the safety issues with pods since pretty much the beginning, since I am on social media so much and in so many parent-blogger communities. I wasn’t surprised – kids get into things they shouldn’t and end up being hurt.

Here’s what turned me around and changed my gut feeling about Tide Pod Challenge humor:

“Of the eight deaths directly related to laundry pods in the last five years, two were children — but six were seniors with dementia.” (Source: Consumerist)

Coming out of a three-year stint during which my father-in-law, who had short-term memory loss, lived with us, this hit me intensely. Although Dad never tried to eat a Tide pod (that I know of), I would find odd things at unusual places around the house — partially consumed candy bars he had tried to eat in the middle of the night (not that I minded him eating candy bars, of course — but his dental health had deteriorated (and he had a TUMOR blocking his esophagus), which made eating something like a Baby Ruth bar impossible, so I would find melted/degraded/partially digested bars in his bedroom that he had been too embarrassed (or something) to dispose of correctly).

The man tried to “smoke” a Slim Jim once, thinking it was a cigar.

Elderly people with dementia do odd things.

There but for the grace of God go I.

It also kind of bugs me that people are implying that participating in the Tide Pod challenge is all due to parental negligence. Most of us parents are doing our best. Heck, I accidentally allowed my treasured, wanted-more-than-anything seven-week old to roll off a twin bed onto a hardwood floor once when we were visiting relatives and I was nursing (sorry, Tenley). Mistakes happen, parents fail, kids survive (thank goodness).

(I also think some kids who made the poor choice of doing the Tide Pod challenge probably should be admitted, Florida State.)

As Rob Gronkowski notes, it’s best to keep the Tide pods out of the mouth and in the washing machine:

A Challenge to the Rest of Us

Yes, ingesting a chemical-filled, poisonous detergent packet is stupid (very).

Yes, doing so makes Darwin look prescient.

But laughing at it to the degree that is taking place currently diminishes us all, in my opinion, and introduces a poisonous element of a different kind.

A Child’s First Words

This post is made possible through the support of Cochlear. All opinions are my own.

It seemed like a technicality: after having my son’s first birthday picture taken at our local newspaper’s office, I was asked if I wanted to complete a communication screening from the First Words Project. While I knew some of my answers to questions like “does baby look to where you point?” had not been “yes,” I wasn’t especially worried…

I wasn’t especially worried until l got a letter from the project that said Wayne was not communicating at the level that would be typical for a 12-month old. I was invited to come in for a detailed screening.

I would be dishonest to say the questionnaire and subsequent invitation to a detailed screening were totally unexpected. I have a degree in child development. I have an older child who had hit typical milestones by twelve months that Wayne had not achieved. I had stood behind him, at 4 months old, clapping loudly hoping he would startle (he did not). After that, I had gotten his hearing tested (he passed the hearing test).

But something was not right.

He had very few words.

He was not looking at objects I tried to direct his attention to.

He was, in the official language of the First Words evaluator on a Communication Evaluation Report, “communicating below what is expected for a child his age.”

Cochlear Implants

Over the next year, Wayne participated in a therapeutic play group at First Words and continued to undergo evaluations. I was fanatical about doing every single activity designed to provide additional support, such as “increasing sound and word productions during predictable routines” and “increasing use of gestures.” I had already been a very interactive parent; I probably looked a BIT frenetic in my effort to connect with him.

By his second birthday, the project evaluators told me he was no longer “below what is expected for a child his age.” He had subsequent annual evaluations until kindergarten, when he was declared ready for kindergarten.

Although Wayne’s communication issues ended up being resolved (in layperson terms, he had apparently been a “slow talker), I developed (and maintained) a hyperawareness about young children and communication issues.

My own personal experience of constant anxiety about my child’s future, and the possibility that some doors would be closed to him because of a communication disorder, is what compelled me to join the Cochlear team to discuss how they help people have access to sound.

One to six out of every 1,000 children in the United States may be born with a severe to profound hearing loss.¹ Just as early intervention helped our family determine if my son had a communication disorder (and rule out hearing loss at 4 months of age), Cochlear knows how critical early intervention is for children who may have hearing loss. Identifying and treating hearing loss early has been confirmed by research to lead to better speech, language, cognitive and social skills outcomes compared to later-identified children.²

Cochlear provides parents with online support, information, and the opportunity to connect with others specifically about hearing loss. If a child does have hearing loss and his or her audiologist, doctor, or other qualified professional determines a cochlear implant should be considered, the resources at will help the family start the process of figuring everything out (medical professionals are of course absolutely critical to evaluating the decision).

For Natalie, Cochlear’s role in her life as a toddler will extend into the rest of her lifetime.

I was devastated when I got that first letter from the First Words Project telling me Wayne was not communicating on a level of other children his age. I still struggled to understand, even as I went through the motions: the evaluations, the play groups, the home activities. I called one of the evaluators to lay bare my fears: that the outcome of these activities was not going to be good. Fortunately, she listened, with empathy and expertise.

Cochlear aims to do the same: meet new parents where they are, with empathy and expertise.

As their motto says, they want their patients to:

Hear Now. And Always

Cochlear ImplantsOn June 1 from 7 am – 7 pm MDT, Cochlear is hosting a Facebook Q&A — Building Your Child’s Brain, One Word at a Time — with the Thirty Million Words team. Ask a question at the chat! Click here for more info.

Note: The Thirty Million Words Q&A is over, but you are welcome to follow their Facebook Page for continued access to information about young children and communication skills!  ~ pk 6/2/16


  1. The Prevalence and Incidence of Hearing Loss in Children. Available from:
  2. Tharpe AM, Gustafson S. Management of Children with Mild, Moderate, and Moderately Severe Sensorineural Hearing Loss. Otolaryngol Clin North Am 2015 Sep 30.

Time for Peace

I have a blog post in my head that hasn’t made it to the “page” yet. This is partially because as much as I would like to process via the blog some of my parenting concerns, my blog is a public place and both of my kids are on social media so it simply doesn’t seem fair to them to post the one in my head.

The blog in my head would be about the challenges of coming to terms with your child not being who you envisioned them to be, but rather who they are meant to be.

Even as I write this, I am feeling hypocritical because I am the first to post or share those pieces of content on social media that encourage acceptance, appreciating people for who they are, and embracing all different kinds of abilities.

In all honesty, as my son comes closer to turning 16, I am still not sure what to do with the part of myself that wanted to be a “baseball” mom (and it didn’t have to be baseball … name any sport or activity that involves endless practices, uniform purchases, trips to matches, etc.). Baseball came and went. Football came and went. Gymnastics came and went. Soccer came and went (fleetingly). Speedskating came and went (but is still sort of on the radar screen). Running and triathlons came and went (but hope springs eternal in this running mom’s heart that he will find joy in running again someday).

Time for Peace

Breakfast on the Track 2010

I have also struggled with my son’s lack of deference (not that being deferential has been the way to go for me, in retrospect) to elders. With my father in law living with us for the past ten months, it has been a hard time in many ways. My son has shouldered his own share of the burden in ways I perhaps have not sufficiently thanked him for, but I still cringe when he is short with my FIL or tells me “not to engage” when my FIL is combative (for the record, he is right but still…).

Time for Peace

For one moment today, that all went a little bit out the window.  After Fr. Jim gave a homily about “things you can’t unsee” (which this visual learner appreciated since it had graphics to accompany the message!), it was time for the “passing of the peace.”

As we were greeting the other attendees, I was shaking hands/hugging the fellow attendees but there was an elderly gentleman seated directly in front of me who clearly had mobility issues. He had stayed seated during the Passing of the Peace. It was easy to miss him … to not make the effort to get his attention, make eye contact, shake his hand.

BUT that is exactly what I watched my son do out of the corner of my eye. Wait for the gentleman to see that Wayne was waiting on him, then shake hands and exchange a wish for peace.

On an Easter when our responsibilities for my FIL kept my husband home instead of attending worship with us, when my daughter was at her church home with her best friend and her family, it was a day to put aside “normal” hopes and expectations. In the interaction between Wayne and the gentleman, there WAS a moment when all of the expectations and hopes I have clutched so tightly to my really didn’t matter.

Because the gentleman in the row ahead of us needed something that only my son was prepared to give.


Time for Peace

Easter at St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Tallahassee, FL




Where Does Innovative Service Begin?

I am grateful that Chip Bell shared a book (The 9 1/2 Principles of Innovative Service) with the world that fits in well with these harried first few weeks of school (for those of us in the U.S. south, at least!). In addition to the start of school, I have also been juggling a procurement at work, a freelance editing project, a father-in-law with health challenges, and various demands of life that all seem to be screaming, “If you haven’t noticed, summer is over!!” This book is readable, piercing in its intensity, and positive.

Innovative Service

As I was considering incidents in my life that exemplified the service Chip highlights, I kept going back to the pharmacy staff at the Publix used by my in-laws. Due to a stroke and some other complications, my father-in-law is on a lot of medications. My mother-in-law has her share of prescriptions, too. They are “regulars” at that pharmacy. One day, my father-in-law had already been driven to Publix to pick up the latest refills (he no longer drives), only to discover upon getting home that one needed medication was not there. When my mother-in-law called to ask about it, they noted that it was now ready. “But I can’t get to Publix now,” she shared (she is blind and does not drive either). A staff person from Publix delivered the medication to their home.


But I witnessed something else at a different Publix today (I spend a lot of time at Publix!) that I just have to share. It may be a stretch to work it in to a blog about innovative service but let’s see if there’s a way.

A parent was berating her son. I didn’t look closely but I think the child was somewhere between 15 and 20. Apparently she had been trying to call him via cell phone in a different section of the store and he had not answered quickly enough. She was being so angry and loud that I honestly was wondering if I was on one of those shows like “What Would You Do?” that was assessing if people would step in and intervene if a child was being verbally abused. The line I remember most was:

“You are about as ignorant as can be.”

Now, I have my own “confrontation in Publix” story that doesn’t put me in a nice light at all. It is such a traumatic story that it hasn’t yet seen the light of day (and it happened when my high school freshman was in kindergarten). I also know that parenting is stressful and I do not walk in this lady’s shoes. All I know is being treated like that (and whatever happens at home out of public earshot) isn’t the kind of stepping stone that a human being needs to grow into someone who provides “innovative service.”

In his chapter called “The Fly-Fishing Principle,” Chip Bell quotes Theodore Roosevelt’s “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

My heart still hurts vicariously for the kid who tonight was told “you’re as ignorant as can be.” As a parent, as a member of teams of various kinds, as someone who has supervised people, I am reminded that respect starts early. Before innovative service shows up at the office or on the showroom floor, some parent, babysitter, or caring adult takes the time to demonstrate it long before ROI is even a consideration. Thank you, Chip Bell, for a book that reminds us just how far respect can go if we incubate it lovingly in the first place.

Source: The Shelby Report

Source: The Shelby Report

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.


Full Support (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

This week, one of the Mama Kat prompts is “a lesson you learned.” It appears in my case, I’m still learning.

It seems that in situations where my son has gotten in trouble of some kind, my response to the adult in authority is always “You have our full support.” The frustration is: how do we translate our full support of the adult into behavioral change in our kid?

Wayne (now 14) has been skating with the speed team (practicing with the beginners) for at least a year now. We haven’t pushed him to participate in the speed skating competitions, partially because (rightly or wrongly), it was hard for me to see spending money on the expenses that are involved in an out of town competition at a time when my husband wasn’t working.roller blade

There was a local meet today, however — more of a “practice meet.” Apparently he signed up on Thursday (glad to see him take initiative). We maneuvered the family schedule around to get him to Skate World by 8 a.m. (yawn) despite what was rapidly turning into a raging case of swimmer’s ear. I left him at Skate World, thinking that his “symptoms” would inevitably be “worse” when I was there. It was a tough call to make because I love being at my kids’ everything. I have missed very few meets/races/games in my life.

When I texted him to tell him that I “couldn’t” make it to Skate World before taking my in laws to church, the text I got back was “Well I got sent to the lobby (read: thrown out) but it wasn’t all my fault.”

Trust me, this is NOT the kind of text you want to get walking into church!

The version from my son went something like this: “So and so took my money and bought a cupcake with it then when I took the cupcake, it ‘ended’ up on the floor. Oh and he somehow hit his head when he tried to jump over me.”

The consequences of his choices (besides getting kicked out of the meet) may mean (another) one month suspension from recreational skating (although he can still go to speed team practice) and possibly the loss of the privilege of the all important “all night skate” occurring this Friday night.

As he was describing the incident, and the fact that he is supposed to call the coach on Thursday to ask about all night skate, I was already envisioning my “you have our full support” email. I secretly hope they’ll take away the all night skate privilege, if for no other reason than it gets me out of a 7:00 a.m. pickup and saves me $25. I not so secretly hope hubs and I will just be the parents and tell him no.

I am still struggling with how to turn our “full support” into him taking responsibility for his choices. I am getting worried, y’all, that the things that are irritating at 14 will be worse at 18, 23, 28 …… the consequences of the adult world can be pretty damning, whether or not you have your parents’ full support.

To conclude, I think the “lesson I’ve learned” is that I’m still learning. And that sometimes “full support” is not enough; it has to be paired with tough consequences.

Mama’s Losin’ It

In A Jam

During my father in law’s illness, I have often been the family member to escort my mother in law, Barb, to church. When we were leaving today, she mentioned that she needed to stop by the fellowship hall to pick up Christmas jams and jellies she had ordered from the annual jam/jelly sale.

When she and I arrived at the jam/jelly sale, one of her friends said she had put Barb’s purchases aside, since Barb had prepaid. When I went to pick up the box of approximately 16 jars of jelly, the friend asked me if I needed help. A couple of conversations overlapped at that point. I was telling the friend that I was fine (I guess the question had to do with me carrying the box while Barb was holding my elbow in the usual position that a blind person does for mobility assistance). While I was saying I would be fine, the friend was recruiting her son, who looked to be around nine, to help me. Although I truly was fine, I also recognized that the mom was trying to encourage altruism in her child and I said something to her like, “well, are you looking for him to have a job to do?” Eventually it was agreed that her son Ryan would carry the box of jams.

Our little procession started out of the fellowship hall, with me guiding Barb in front and Ryan carrying the box a few steps behind us. We were stopped by quite a few people since everyone wants to know how my father in law is doing. We made it a few steps, and got stopped by another well wisher. At that point, a gentleman came up to Ryan and asked if he needed help. Although my eyes-in-the-back-of-the-head weren’t working, I think Ryan was actually doing fine but the adult made it clear that he wanted to take over.

I didn’t have time to explain the whole “his mother wants him to have a job” deal. And frankly by this point the afternoon’s obligations were stacking up in my mental calendar and I just. wanted. to. get. out. of. there. So we all got to the car, the jams were loaded, and Barb and I went off on our way.

The situation with Ryan reminded me of the time when Wayne Kevin was quite young (six or seven) and had run an entire 5K. He was faster than me at the time so I was behind him. When we crossed paths I knew he was farther ahead than he should be, and he told me one of the traffic control personnel told him to cut it short, I guess because he was “little” and “cute.” I was so annoyed!! And I was annoyed because Wayne had been doing fine on his own. Although he really didn’t care about his time in the race, the official time wouldn’t be accurate because he had not run the whole course and he wouldn’t have the pride of having done something he was perfectly capable of doing had an adult not intervened.

It seems a bit mean-spirited to snark about the adult who helped Ryan today. He was tremendously gracious and, like almost everyone we have encountered as we navigate the additional needs for transportation, food, and moral support as Wayne’s dad deals with his current medical situation, he just wanted to help.

But the situation sparked off a question in my mind so I thought I would share it with you readers and get some thoughts. (And it is World Kindness Week so feel free to remind me that the kindest thing I could have done would have been to delete about 627 words of this post and make it, “Thank you Ryan and you, Mr. Nice Guy who wanted to help.”

What a jam.

Just Shine (A Mama Kat Writers Workshop Prompt)

When the Mama Kat writing prompts for this week came out, I blithely ran a “random number generator” for one through five and came up with number two. The relatively easy part: write about a time someone made you smile. The not-so-easy part: write in poem format.

And that’s how I ended up writing Just Shine:

Just Shine

I wear a white robe – my “acolyte uniform”

          I pass the priest the wafers, the wine, the water; I wash his hands
Each communicant kneels at the rail
          Dressed “to the nines,” in sweats or jeans – and everything in between
She is all in something from “Justice for Girls”
          A shirt that has a pink bunny on it, with a pink rhinestone collar and glitter
Her shirt says “just shine”
          She is still a child – the balance has not at all tipped toward womanhood yet
The pink leggings match – the headband – the shoes with hearts on them
          It all coordinates – there is also an “Almost Too Cool” set with a baby blue puppy
I remember shopping with Tenley at Justice
          Charmed by the innocence of each image
Stressed by the cost, by her enthusiastic pleas not to wait until things got to the sale rack
          Now the images, prices, and sounds bombard me at Hollister and Abercrombie
 I smile and reminisce

          Wishing this child and her mom an extended stay in the time of “just shine”
Mama's Losin' It

How Much Longer Will I Be Blogging About My Children?


Little_green_felt_tip_pens_biggerBy the time I finished composing my comment to Liesl Jurock’s Mama’s Log this morning, I realized that I had drafted my blog for tonight. Although I had seen the topic of “Have Mom Bloggers Gone Too Far?” a few times this week, I had not really paid attention to the renewed chatter the topic of mommy bloggers had gotten.

The topic crossed my radar screen when Kat blogged about the pros and cons of being a semi-generous sharer regarding how much of her life (and her family’s images/identifying information) she shares with her followers.

The topic crosses my mind every time I am on Jess’s A Diary of a Mom page and happen across the link to the explanation of her choice to use pseudonyms for her children, in order to give them as much online anonymity as possible.

The topic crosses my mind when I am casually conversing with friends about social media; some don’t like putting pictures of their children on their blogs but don’t mind putting them on Facebook. Some people bestow pseudonyms on their children in a practice that is apparently more prevalent than I realized. The choices are numerable, and the bloggers I know cover a wide spectrum. 

Liesl’s position, which I am hopefully summarizing accurately, is this: She writes. She parents. (She has a supportive spouse and a solid marriage). She infuses her experiences with her son (with his real name) throughout her blog, because to do otherwise would result in a) her losing a vital outlet that helps her figure it all out, and b) those of us who read her work losing a link in the “we’re all in this together” (apologies, High School Musical) climate that helps us stay sane.

Here’s what I said in response:

Hi Liesl, I am glad you wrote this. I had seen a bit of the “mom blogging controversy” over the last few days. When I read blogs by some moms who have thousands of followers, I do think (occasionally) about the exposure their children are getting, especially in pictures. Maybe someday I’ll be blogging for thousands -right now it’d be a banner day to blog for a hundred.

My absolute primary reason to blog is to keep my “writing muscle” fresh, and to leave my children out of THAT equation would be the most unnatural thing in the world. Therefore, when Sunday (my usual blogging day) rolls around and I search my brain for a topic, if one of my children is part of that topic, so be it. I have found that I am less inclined to write about my teenager, not because she is the less interesting of my two children, but because either she’s not involved in the “blog worthy” events about which I write or because I just don’t glean as much material from her since she’s often out of the house or behind earbuds.

My husband doesn’t read my blog. I sometimes wish he would because utter strangers know more about me (like why I stood in the middle of a major highway sweeping up glass from an auto accident) than he does, but it also gives me (and those followers) a tiny world in which I am quite independent. I can live with that for now, and it’s not like I could force him to read it, AND it’s his loss after all.

I often wonder what my children are going to take to the therapist’s couch with them as adults – I imagine in overcompensating for the things that sent me there, I am creating a bunch of new issues for them. I suppose with my blog, maybe they’ll have written backup instead of relying on their memory banks!

I want to make sure to reiterate that I respect every parent blogger’s choice about how they handle their chlid’s identity on their blogs. 

I suppose if my kids don’t want to be in my blog they can behave like angels 100% of the time, make perfect grades, never get into conflict with their peers, and always make consumer choices that defer to the abject poverty in many parts of the world compared to the relative luxury we have.

Hmmm……sounds like they’re going to be here on momforlife for a long, long time!

Wordless Wednesday

As the parent of a teenager, I have stopped being surprised at irritating text messages from my daughter.  They pretty much mirror the dialogue we share in person, in emails, and during phone calls.

Last Wednesday, Tenley was fulfilling her weekly commitment to help my mother-in-law.  She had been there a little longer than her shift usually lasts, and she was ready to leave (but I was still at work).  The conversation by text consisted of four variations from her of “are you on your way yet?” paired with my “not yet” responses.  When I finally was prepared to leave and texted, “On my way,” I almost didn’t even check her response when I heard the little chime that indicated an incoming text.  I was just over this conversation, and I fully anticipated exactly this:  FINALLY! or this:  It’s about time.

What I got instead was this: 

This exchange occurred on a Wednesday, and it was surprisingly pleasant enough to leave me …