The Case For Facebook

One of the best side effects of my concussion is that I got hooked on podcasts. From My Brother, My Brother and Me to S-Town, The Splendid Table to The Longest Shortest Time, not a day goes by when I’m not listening, learning, or laughing (sometimes with headphones on, which makes people stop and look but that’s cool).

Perhaps most lovely was my discovery of The Hamilcast, a podcast devoted to all things Hamilton (the musical, obvs). The moment I found it, I binge-listened, then began to support the podcast through Patreon, which allowed me to join a Facebook group for likeminded Hamilcast peeps. At first, it was merely an opportunity to learn about upcoming guests in advance and put forth questions that might be asked during interviews. Over these many months, however, the Patreon group has grown into much more. We share all things Ham, of course, but also just… life. Halloween pumpkins. Business trips. Ridiculous memes. Difficult days. It is a safe haven of the internet and one of my favorite places to be.

 

The girls’ reaction to hearing their questions answered by none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda himself on The Hamilcast.

That may seem like an oxymoron – “internet” and “safe haven.” And I agree; so much of the internet (like, SO MUCH) is an awful, soul-sucking wasteland. It’s exhausting and maddening. When the virtual world gets really nasty and even dog fail videos don’t help, I turn to my most reliably comforting internet spot: Facebook.

Yes, Facebook. I KNOW. For a whole lotta people, Facebook is the devil. Whether it’s preferring to interact in person rather than virtually; feeling left out or disappointed or intimidated after reading someone’s status update; being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information; growing disheartened or downright furious when you discover that your neighbor doesn’t share your political views; or just not caring that Jim decided to order the cherry finish instead of walnut, Facebook can make people get all up in their bad feelings. And I get that. A lot of what appears on my timeline isn’t exactly fascinating nor does it make me chuckle.

Despite Mark Zuckerberg’s envisioning Facebook as a place for building community and bringing the world closer together, I know that a lot of people feel much lonelier as a result of joining up. I guess I’m lucky in that Facebook has pretty much always brought me exactly what I’ve been looking for: connection and information (and lots of RIPs when celebrities die).

I don’t consider myself a school reunion type. I’ve always reasoned that the people I want most to keep in touch with are the ones with whom I, um, keep in touch… and the others, while nice enough (or not; I can think of several classmates who I still wish were perennially stuck in traffic), were just casualties of growing up and moving on. No biggie.

Then along came Facebook, and I’m friends with a bunch of these very people – folks who were mere acquaintances in 11th grade or who moved away when we were nine – who, in a world devoid of social media, I would probably have never run into again… and I wouldn’t have bemoaned that. Yet because of Facebook, despite having not actually laid eyes on these guys in 20 or 30 years, I weirdly know more about them – their jobs, where they spent the Fourth of July, which of their children or dogs dressed as poop emojis for Halloween – than I ever did in “real life.”

Even weirder? I care. When they don’t post for a while, I wonder how they are. When they succeed, I’m genuinely happy for them; when tragedy strikes, I’m honestly bummed. And, since I consider them to be friends (virtual friends? Vriends?), I value their opinions and experiences. My 7th grade math partner loves their cast iron more than their Teflon? Point taken. That kid from the cross country team had a better experience with Lyft than Uber? Interesting. My buddy who switched schools in fourth grade is talking about what it’s like to raise her adopted daughter? I’m listening.

I may never see these people again face-to-face, but being pals with them online has enriched my life. And brought me whitening toothpaste. So that’s a plus.

It’s not just my relationships with far-flung vriends (it’s gross but I’m using it) that have been enriched, though – I appreciate how Facebook has changed my “in-person” friendships, too. Life is so freakin’ busy, I don’t take the time to contact the slacker Girl Scout moms or my Mothers and More group every time I bring a dog to the vet or watch a soccer game or Nick goes out of town. But if the dog looked super adorable… or my girl scored a goal… or we ate banana splits for dinner because Nick was away… I might have put it on Facebook.
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Super adorable dog.

Which means the next time I actually get together with the Girls Scout mamas or my Mothers and More crew, we have a head start ’cause we’re already caught up on the random minutiae of one another’s days. Consider this: when I haven’t seen a friend for a while but really want to reconnect, we usually spend time with pleasantries (“Read any good books lately?” “Jeez with this rain, huh?”) as we settle in. But when we’ve been following one another’s online posts, we’re ahead of the game (“Was that her first goal of the year?” “What was the whipped-cream-to-banana ratio?”) and get right to the good stuff – the stuff that doesn’t go on Facebook.

See, I don’t use Facebook for everything; I actually keep the vast majority of my life to myself. Ironically, most of my closest friends aren’t active on Facebook (or we don’t use the platform as our primary means of discussion). When something is really important, it sure as heck won’t go on Facebook first. But I do find it an extremely efficient means of communicating, and use it often.

That’s not to say that everything appearing on my timeline is brilliant or enlightening; obviously, there’s plenty of crap. Alongside the photos of someone’s lunch and the rant about fracking, though, there’re also some really substantive things that have taught me about topics I’d never have discovered on my own. Boots for wide feet? Thanks, Facebook! How to self-publish a book? Facebook told me. The neatest sites for following hurricanes? Found ’em through Facebook. Pool liners? Paralympic athletes? Restaurants in Sicily? Secular Judaism? How to be an ally? As seen on Facebook. My timeline shows me what’s happening beyond my corner of the world, from vriends and friends I trust and respect, and I think that’s pretty solid.

Most importantly, Facebook has provided a place for connection when I’ve really needed it. This has never been more poignant than when I’ve shared my struggles with, and thoughts about, depression and anxiety – as well as the daily mistakes I’ve made being a human. After those posts, the number of people who reach out – privately and publicly – to say, “Me too. I didn’t know you felt this way. I’m so glad I’m not alone” – has been astonishing. Because of our connection through Facebook, people I know, and I, have felt stronger, supported, comforted. If nothing else good comes from it, that would be enough.

I know Facebook doesn’t work for a lot of folks because they feel their lives never measure up to the perfect ones scrolling in front of them. Maybe that’s part of why the platform does work for me: I take everyone’s updates with a grain of salt. Just as I’m aware that I only post what I want the world to see, I know the same is true for my vriends. This is especially helpful when a colleague puts up a photo of her brand new kitchen cabinets and I’m attaching mine together with wood glue and rubber bands (literally).
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No joke.

That doesn’t mean I won’t share the photo of my glued and rubber-banded cabinets (ahem); I like to keep it real. Not in an Anything Goes kind of way, but in a balanced way that reflects what’s actually happening rather than creating a shiny, polished version of my story. If it’s been a good few days, my updates will reflect that – but when I lose someone I love or spill coffee all over my purse or wear two different shoes to work, I’ll mention that, too. If the point is connection, my shiny, polished self doesn’t really allow for that.

A friend posted recently that she’d participated in a research discussion asking whether or not Facebook is good for the world. If I’d participated, I wouldn’t have been able to give a one-size-fits all response… but for my world? Facebook has been pretty dang good. Especially where The Hamilcast, dog memes, and self-help quizzes are concerned.
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Listening to The Hamilcast… with cute dogs.

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STOP. THE. MADNESS. !!

Nope. Nothing to do with basketball. Sorry.

I’ve had an idea about a Pinterest post percolating for a good couple of months now, but haven’t found the time to write about it. Today, I was going to post a quick St. Patrick’s Day recap when I happened to read this article that was shared by a friend on Facebook… and suddenly, my percolating idea and my St. Pat’s post ran into one another full-speed (it was a real pile-up; not pretty), and I so now I’m going to attempt to do write both posts simultaneously.

A mom-guilt/ Pinterest/ St. Patrick’s Day mash-up, if you will.
I do love me a good mash-up. Until Glee got lame last year. But I digress.

I’ll cut to the chase: I did a whole bunch of stuff with the girls for St. Patrick’s Day, even though we’re not Irish! I got a lot of my ideas off Pinterest! I did it because it made me happy, and I loved every minute of it!

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All green lunch, complete with neon cream cheese bagels. Annie’s my pickle girl while All’s the celery with blue cheese kid. I’m more of a mint chocolate kind of gal myself.

Some people hate Pinterest. They feel guilty because they’re not doing the stuff they see on Pinterest. They feel bad because they’re not doing the stuff their neighbors are doing.

That sucks.
But just because we’re not doing what “everyone else” seems to be doing doesn’t doesn’t mean any of us is doing it wrong or that we should stop. Unless we’re water-boarding our kids and eating a diet consisting of only Easy Cheese. Then maybe we should reconsider.

So, here’s the gist of Kristen Howerton’s above article: celebrating the holidays (especially with kids) has gone overboard. Each one brings about crazy activities (An elf will come to our house and be all funny and cute at Christmas time! Cards aren’t enough on Valentine’s Day – you need bags of loot! Is the Easter Bunny leaving footprints at your house, too?) that can be difficult – or all but impossible – to complete. Kids are then left disappointed and parents feel like crap.

The article was well-written and funny, and I hear Kristen. I really do. To wit: Annie came home yesterday informing us that her teacher had told them all about leprechauns and their magic. She then set about decorating several plastic cups which she left on the dining room table so that the “leprechauns can visit, make the cups tiny, and leave a prize behind!” I looked at Nick like, The ever-loving hell they are, and might have contemplated sending her teacher’s future children a drum set in retaliation.

So, I get Kristen’s point. Annie had high expectations that something super-awesome was going to happen, and she was bound to be disappointed if the “leprechauns” didn’t follow through. But to do so meant a lot of… work… on the other side, and frankly, I was too damn exhausted last night (after having put in a full day’s worth of my own St. Pat’s celebrations, thanks very much) to even consider pulling this off. And so I did the only thing I could think of: I threw the cups in the garbage.

Yep. Just tossed ’em right out.

When Annie came downstairs this morning excitedly looking for the goodies that the leprechauns had left behind, I told her matter-of-factly that I’d thrown away the cups, so there were no goodies. That went over well. I mean, I wasn’t a total monster about it – I said it sweetly and all that (“Oh, honey, I’m so sorry, but while I was cleaning up last night, I threw away the cups!”). She was bummed, yes, but I then explained that I didn’t want her to be disappointed – maybe the leprechauns only work their cup-shrinking magic at school, and I didn’t want her to come down to un-shrunken cups – so, to avoid that possibility, I just got rid of them. She perked up immediately and agreed that, yes, the magic was probably a school thing, and she was on her merry way. Thank God, too, because turning myself into a leprechaun last night was just not in the cards.
Not. Happening.

Kristen (I’m back on the article now; bear with me) expressed the same sentiment, saying, “I don’t like the feeling of disappointing my kids. But I refuse to give into this holiday madness.” Amen, sista. Preach it! But she then goes on to request the following:

Fellow parents… teachers… sunday school workers… I beseech you. BRING IT DOWN A NOTCH.  Ya’ll are setting up expectations that I just can’t maintain. Wouldn’t we all be just a little happier if we returned to the slacker days of store-bought valentines and kit-dyed eggs and JUST WEARING A GREEN SHIRT AND CALLING IT A DAY?

For the sake of overwhelmed parents like me, I beg you. Stop the madness.

And here’s where we might just have to agree to disagree because, well, quite frankly… No. I won’t. Might it be easier in some ways if we returned to the “slacker days” and skipped the extras that so many people seem to engage in today? Sure. But would we be happier? Would I be happier? Nope. I wouldn’t.

Because, as simple as it sounds, I’ll say it again: I do this because it makes me happy.

It’s not entirely logical, I’ll give you that. I am still only getting about five-and-a-half hours of sleep a night, I’m way behind on emails, and I’ve stopped attending church because something has to give, for the love of God (see what I did there?). But when I remembered on Friday night that St. Patrick’s Day was to occur three days later, I panicked because I had done absolutely nothing to get ready for it.

Which, yes, is ironic anyway, because there is less than no Irish in us, so “celebrating” St. Patrick’s Day is wholly unnecessary. That’s not why I do it, though. I do it because it makes me happy. Looking online for ideas makes me feel really, really good; it’s simultaneously cathartic and energizing. I was practically giddy shopping for little goodies for the girls’ scavenger hunt. I absolutely loved composing limerick clues (even if they were some of the most pathetic rhymes ever written), and browsing for Irish-themed dinner recipes made me all kinds of cheerful.

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What’s a lunch without a (bad) joke?

Is that madness? Perhaps. But it brings enormous joy into my life. That it also brings joy into my daughters’ lives is a bonus, but that’s not why I do it. My motive is purely selfish: (say it with me) it makes me happy.

This is not a new phenomenon, this “madness.” I’ve been doing some form of it since forever; it’s how I’m hardwired. I’ve always had a thing for collecting quotes; now, they’re pinned to my Pinterest wall, but I’ve still got my “nothing books” from my middle-school camp days, filled with colored-marker quotes, cartoons, and oodles of photographs. Today, I might send a friend a video montage for her birthday; back when, I plotted out how to get her locker code to sneak in and decorate so that streamers and balloons exploded on her between first and second period.

In my current life, I spend days planning the events my daughters’ birthday parties. In my former life, my college friends and I staged an elaborate “Jeopardy” skit in the middle of the student center – complete with costumes that we purchased from a local thrift shop – to celebrate a buddy’s 19th birthday. This year, I’m browsing Pinterest for ideas on bento lunches; in my first years as a teacher, I made heart-shaped Rice Krispie Treats and put them on sticks to make heart-pops for my students on Valentine’s Day. In 2014, I spend time in Photoshop designing our holiday cards. Back then, I took pictures of Nick and me with our dogs (or even me with my students – a practice that would, um, definitely be frowned upon now), printed out actual photos at the one-hour developer, and inserted them into Christmas cards with pithy themes like “Where The Wild Things Are” for when I taught preschool.

I have always been like this.
Because it has always made me happy.

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Don’t worry, fruit made it into breakfast, too. But really, all the girls cared about were the marshmallows. 

I’m not (completely) stupid. I understand that there are differences between then and now, most notably that technology – especially social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr – makes it much easier to see what other people are doing. And, in turn, what you’re not doing. The whole Keeping Up With The Joneses thing has been around for forever – what the Joneses are doing is just much more in-your-face than it’s been before.

And that can lead to feeling inadequate, which can lead to feeling guilty, and we all know that there’s a whole Mom/Parent Guilt thing going on. (Type “mom guilt” into Google if you really want to kill an afternoon.) And, again, I get it. There are so many expectations on moms – hell, on parents – these days, with seemingly contradictory messages: spend time with your kids because it all goes by too fast, but don’t smother them because helicopter parenting is the devil and your children will be living in your basement until you die. Make sure to find time for yourself, but for God’s sake, don’t let that time be spent on a smartphone because those things are evil and are probably destroying humanity. Offer your children a variety of organic, gluten-free foods, but, my goodness, don’t spend so much time worrying about it – a cupcake now and again won’t hurt. Foster independence but always be there for them no matter what, except when you’re allowing them to fail in order to succeed. Breast is best, except that that makes bottle-feeding moms feel bad, and so it’s perfectly fine to bottle-feed, except breast is really best – but only nutritionally, because really it’s just love that matters, so a bottle is fine. Except you should try to breastfeed. Probably. Unless you’re miserable, because everyone knows that if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

Much of this “advice” has been around since probably forever, but again, technology and the media make it so much more available and prevalent that it can feel as though you’re surrounded by a roomful of angry people all shouting at you that you’re doing it wrong.

Which is undoubtedly why there has been such a backlash against it – and, in many cases, rightfully so. The so-called “standards” are unattainable, and we all know that Keeping Up With The Joneses was never a good idea to begin with (grass always being greener and all that). But then there’s this sub-culture of anti-Pinterest, anti-SuperMom, pro-slacker parenting that seems to have taken root — Screw the cutesy sandwiches, my kid’s lucky if she gets a Lunchable! Our Elf on the Shelf hasn’t moved in eight days!! Fuck the fondant-covered cake; that’s why Betty Crocker was invented! — and suddenly the “solution” to the problem seems to be, yet again, telling people that they’re doing it wrong.

I’ll absolutely admit it – I’ve been completely fed-up with today’s “standards” on a gazillion occasions. And, as a result, I’ve taken the slacker root many, many times (see above: leprechaun cups in garbage). But I don’t ask other parents to “tone it down a notch” so that I can feel better about myself. Because, let’s admit it, that’s what this is: our own feelings of inadequacy. Pinterest isn’t making you feel guilty; that’s on you. No one is “doing” this to us; we’re doing it to ourselves.

Put another way: my doing St. Patrick’s Day activities with my kids isn’t setting up expectations for you that you can’t maintain. I shouldn’t have to stop doing what I’m doing so that you can feel better about yourself. Not to go all Stuart Smalley or Dr. Phil on you, but the only person who can make you not feel inadequate is… wait for it… you.

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Home run!

No one is good at everything, and no two of us enjoy the same things. This may seem really obvious, but apparently it’s not, because we continue to measure ourselves up against what other people are doing. It’s like trying to squeeze a hippopotamus into one of those little sweaters that’s been woven for a dachshund; it may seem like a swell idea at first, but in the end, you’re going to wind up with a pissed-off dachshund with stretched-out sweater and a hippo with a self-esteem issue. Or something like that.

In case you’d like to hear it directly from me, I will be the first to tell you that, while I have loads of good qualities, I suck a a lot of things, too. I may have made a cute green lunch for my kids on St. Patrick’s Day, but, yesterday afternoon, I also discovered a layer of dust on my living room bookshelf that was so thick, I could have removed with a shovel (that is, if I actually got around to dusting). Sure, the girls handed out themed, homemade Valentines, but Ella wore duct-taped boots to school for a few days, too – yay, arts and crafts! My clothes keep coming out of the dryer with oil stains on them and I don’t know why. Whenever I wear a dress to work, the girls ask me what the special occasion is. I have fallen so far behind on my family’s photo editing that, in about two weeks, I will officially be one year behind. I will have lapped myself with editing. Last week, I fell off a treadmill, and I still have the scar to prove it.

I could go on (and on… and on…), but I think (I hope?) you get my point.

If you head over to my Pinterest page, you’ll see ideas for hairstyles, crafts to do with the kids, teaching activities, and loads of recipes. Some, I’ll actually get around to doing. Others are just there because they seemed neat to me at the moment and I thought, why the hell not pin this? What you will not find is: anything having to do with knitting or crocheting or sewing. Anything about scrapbooking. Any pages devoted to “beautiful spaces” or really lovely fashion photos, or pages about makeup or fancy nails.

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Knowing I wouldn’t be home when Annie and Ella arrived from school (and I wouldn’t see them at all until 5:00), I created a St. Pat’s scavenger hunt for them to do with our babysitter.

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Each clue was a limerick (man, those took some time. Phew), and at the end, they giddily won $3 off of the scratch cards. That’s almost as good as a pot of gold!

Why not? Because I’m not interested in those things. There’s nothing wrong with them; they’re just not for me, so I move on by. I pin the stuff that makes me happy or inspires me or makes me laugh or makes me shake my head or makes me wish I had a glass of wine. The rest of it, though? I just don’t care… and I also don’t give two hoots about what you have on your Pinterest page (unless it’s only about Easy Cheese; then, maybe we need to talk).

Why can’t the same go for real life? If one of your daughter’s classmates just got a puppy, and you’d like to get a puppy, then go get a puppy. If you’d rather eat a handful of sand, then don’t get a damn puppy. If someone at work starts bringing awesome leftovers for lunch and you want awesome leftovers for lunch, then cook something awesome and bring the leftovers in. Or ask your coworker for extras. But if the thought of having to actually cook and reheat makes you break out in hives, then skip it and buy a sandwich instead… but don’t tell your office mate to leave the coq au vin at home.

I’m never going to be a good housekeeper, but I don’t want you to let your dust bunnies start mating because your level of cleanliness is one that I can’t attain. I’m not going to ask you to please start spilling your beverage on your shirt because I can’t seem to keep my clothes coffee-free. And I won’t request that you please refrain from posting photos from your incredible trip to Europe because it makes me feel shitty that I’ve never been to Europe. If I feel shitty about it, that’s on me.

This is not to say that I’m not jealous or envious of other people, or that I don’t think snarky things about them from time to time (or, okay, a lot). “Well, look who had the time to go and see a movie in the theater, while the rest of us actually had to work and pay bills and run errands and spend time with our kids. Must be nice.” ‘Cause I do. But I don’t want you to stop seeing movies because I’m bummed that I don’t see more of them. That’s just weird.

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Found these little grow-your-own clovers in the Target dollar bins and was like, score! So I put them downstairs in the playroom, making sure to leave dog-appealing items – like gum and lip balm – well out of reach…

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… annnnd then I received this text from Annie while between my piano lessons.
Yeah. Fail. 😐

So, to get back to the request made by Kristen (from a blog post that I recognize was written a year ago and totally not aimed at me in any way but that resonated strongly today when I read it)… No, I’m sorry. I will not bring it down a notch because you’re feeling overwhelmed. It sucks that you’re feeling that way, truly – I’ve been there oh-so-many, many, many times (in fact, that’s pretty much were I live) – but I’m not responsible for you feeling like you need to live up to (what you imagine are my) expectations, and then feeling bad when you can’t maintain those (imagined) expectations. That’s madness.

See, I like what I’m doing. I don’t want to return to store-bought Valentines and just wearing a green shirt for St. Patrick’s Day. (We do still kit-dye most of our eggs, though; the PAAS “extra bright” pack yields really rad eggs.) I enjoy thinking up Elf on the Shelf poses, and we attended our first actual “Pie Party” last Friday (where everyone, you know, brought a pie to share…) and it was not only fun, but delicious. And it meant I didn’t have to cook dinner. So I’m going to keep doing those things.

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Bathroom loot.

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Yeah, it’s all cute and WTF, you wrote a million limericks! until you actually READ the limericks… like this one.
I don’t have any explanation other than that it was really, really late. And I suck at limericks?

I don’t really care so much about the 100 days of school, so when those things come home, we tend to throw something in a bag and call it a day. Although I’ll dye a bazillion eggs (using the store-bought kits) and we do host an egg hunt for our neighbors, Easter is a pretty easy affair in these here parts; last year, our “official” Easter dinner came from Five Guys (I am not making this up). We’ll probably wear red, white, and blue on the Fourth of July, but beyond that, our “patriotism” will likely be limited to the American pastimes of eating hamburgers and hotdogs and drinking beverages from red Solo cups.

In short: if it works for you, great. If not, don’t worry about it. Or, to bastardize Nike, just don’t do it, simple as that.
Neither is better than another, and there’s really no reason to feel that you’re not living up to expectations… because the expectations are imaginary to begin with.

My kids’ only knowledge of New Orleans comes from The Princess and the Frog, but by golly, we have beignets and gumbo on Mardi Gras each year. We will absolutely eat Mexican food on Cinco de Mayo… because it makes me happy. For me, life is too short not to celebrate as often as we can (especially if it involves chocolate). When it stops being fun, and when I stop getting joy from it, then it’s time to call it quits – but so far, so good.

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Making mint chocolate-chip ice cream (because it’s green, duh) seemed like a good idea… until I neglected to correctly calculate the proportions and my cup ranneth… over… 

I know it’s not always so easy, the just-let-it-go part. I am hardly immune from self-doubt or feelings of guilt or worries that I’m not measuring up, that I’m doing it wrong. In fact, the reason I’m absolutely certain that I do these things simply because they make me happy – and not because I’m, I don’t know, unfulfilled in other ways or trying to make up for a childhood slight or some other crap – is because I’ve been so concerned that maybe there was a nefarious motive at play, I’ve discussed it with my therapist.
Turns out, nope. No motive; just happy. Go, therapy!

I still struggle with feeling like I don’t measure up, but it’s been a huge weight off my shoulders to realize that the bar I’m rising to was set by me. I think we all do ourselves an enormous disservice if we outsource our happiness instead of taking charge of it ourselves, and if we don’t acknowledge that the source of our feelings of inadequacy and guilt is… us. There is no International Committee of Expectations reigning over us, telling us what standards we have to maintain. Yes, of course there are societal pressures, but in the end, the only ones who hold us to those pressures are ourselves. (Maybe I’ll try to pin that idea.)

So I’m going to keep on making green-themed lunches and setting out Lucky Charms on St. Paddy’s morning. On the last day of school, the girls will come home to some kind of celebration because that’s how I roll. That doesn’t mean I think I’m better than you, and you certainly don’t need to feel overwhelmed because of it. If you don’t want to turn holidays into madness-inducing fiestas, then don’t. No biggie. No one expects you to. Really. (I know, when your kids expect things because they see “everyone else” doing it, it can make for some crappy parenting moments. I’m not saying that’s fun. But still… the neighbors shouldn’t have to tone down their Arbor Day festivities because your kids feel left out.)

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Despite my technical difficulties, the ice cream tasted damn delicious.

To those of you who make sure your kids are all decked out on crazy hair day, I salute you. To those of you who have crock pot meals ready to go for the rest of the month, that’s awesome. To those who’ve made it home just in time to read to your kids every night this week, good on you. If you’ve found a new pattern and are knitting socks in just two days, congratulations. If the only cookies you’ve ever made come from the Pillsbury tube, that sounds great to me – I love me some cookies. To you who’ve taken to hiding in the bathroom just to read an email because it’s the only peace and quiet you’ll get all day, I sympathize; go ahead and lock that door.

Whatever you’re doing – and not doing – is fine. It’s all good. And if you’re content and your family is content and everyone is still alive at the end of the day, I’d declare it a success. The lawn over at the Joneses may be green, but their water bill is crazy. Plus also, if you look closely, you’ll see that some of that grass is technically weeds, anyway.

So, let’s make a deal: I won’t expect you to make first-day-of school welcome-home brownies. As long as you don’t expect my floors to be clean (or my pants to be stain-free or my cupboards to be organized…), we’ll get along just fine.