The Best Policy

The Best Policy

As I have mentioned probably 470328320 times, I am on Facebook a lot. A. Lot. I love Facebook. I sing love songs to it and whisper sweet nothings in its ear.

No, no, the last two aren’t true.

When you get down to it, Facebook is basically a way to announce to the world what you want them to know about you in that moment. It might be what you’re doing for the weekend, what your kids are crying about, or, inexplicably, pictures of your dinner. It allows you to post your thoughts and opinions on literally everything. That can get tedious but I think we can all agree that it is an effective form of communication, if not always the most personal.

Of course, this also means that you are going to see posts that you disagree with. Sometimes just a little, sometimes vehemently. That’s right. I said vehemently. And when that happens, you have two choices: make a comment or move on.

A few years ago, if I saw something I didn’t like. I always commented. Always. I have been told that I can be a little too quick to react without thinking to a lot of situations, (hard to believe, right?? RIGHT????) so my comments were not always the most polite. I would get involved in debates that lasted all day, sometimes not even totally sure why I was debating but confident in my right-ness about the situation. Is “right-ness” a word? Spell-check didn’t flag it. But it also didn’t flag “spell-check.” Hmm. Is my spell-check even on? What is it doing, watching TV? Get it together, spell-check.

So what was I saying? Oh, right – the right-ness. I would get angry and I would argue and argue until Daniel either took away my computer or one of my fingers went numb. Darn carpal tunnel. It wasn’t pretty.

After a while, I realized that I probably wasn’t helping anyone by shouting my thoughts as loud as I could. I certainly wasn’t showing people the love of Christ. So I decided to stop getting involved with arguments and debates on Facebook. It just wasn’t worth it.

And at first, that went really well. It was freeing to just scroll past controversial posts without feeling like I had to say something. I didn’t need to yell at people or tell them why they were wrong. I could just let them be.

But it didn’t take long for that to feel wrong, too. Not because I missed the angry debates or wanted to stir the pot, but because it seemed like the coward’s way out. I had gone from sharing everything to sharing nothing. No opinions, no disagreements, no nothin’. I was able to be everyone’s friend because no one knew what I really thought. It seemed like a wonderful idea, but it just didn’t feel right.

See, I got it wrong both times. I didn’t need to get angry and shout. I didn’t need to pretend like I had no opinions. I just needed to be honest.

We live in a time where people are afraid to be honest, I think. I know I am. I put too much stock in what others think of me. I care too much if my friends agree with the choices I make. It’s not something I recommend but I also think every person in the world experiences that in some form or fashion. The need to be accepted is deeply ingrained in each of us. And in order to gain and then keep that acceptance, we change ourselves. We see something we know is wrong and we keep scrolling. We see a friend hurting and we don’t reach out. We see a post that we know is harmless but we decide to lash out at the person anyway. All in the name of not rocking the boat or showing others how knowledgeable we are.

But – pardon the language, Mom – that’s crap. It is. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what my friends think of me. I don’t serve my friends. I don’t serve Facebook. I serve my Heavenly Father and no one else. That’s it.

God does not call us to be liked. He does not call us to be popular. He does not call us to have 3279 Facebook friends. He calls us to follow Him in everything that we do. And if we agree to do that, we also understand that there will be days where our opinion is unpopular. But whether God’s Word is popular has never been the reason to share it. We share it because it is God’s Word.

So I have decided that honesty is the best policy. I don’t need to shout. I don’t need to hide. I don’t have to be profound or funny or likable. I just need to tell the truth, God’s truth.

I’m not saying to get involved in every post you see on Facebook. I’m not saying to stop voicing your opinions. I just want us to think about why we are giving our opinions. Is it because you want to tell the truth, or because you want to win? Are you ignoring an issue because you know that your opinion is well-known, or because you don’t want to upset anyone? Ask yourself why you are saying what you are saying, and I think you’ll have a clear answer on what to do next.

Honesty can extend to our real lives, too. I know, I know; I am speaking of life outside of Facebook. Tell your friends. But being honest is important in all situations. There are some gray areas – for instance, you probably don’t need to tell your friend that her new hair cut is so bad you want to watch a Britney Spears music video just to get the image of her new bangs out of your head. But if your friend has broccoli in her teeth before church, help a sister out. And ask why she has broccoli for breakfast because that’s a little unusual.

More importantly, if a friend comes to you for counsel, be a friend. Be honest with them. Show them love and understanding, but above all, tell them the truth. Don’t do them the disservice of skirting around your opinions or berating them for their choices. If someone asks you what you think about an issue, tell them. You don’t have to put them down or be afraid to voice your thoughts. Just be honest. Just tell the truth. And if someone is honest with you, do them the courtesy of not taking it out on them. Know that your friends and family love you, and that sometimes telling you the truth is the best thing they have ever done for you, and the hardest thing they have ever done for you. Be honest with yourself when you are struggling over the next step to take. Be honest with yourself when you know that what you are doing isn’t right, and be honest with yourself when you have to make a hard choice that makes you unpopular.

I am a Christian. I know some people don’t like Christians. I know some people do. It doesn’t matter. It’s just the truth. I believe what the Bible says. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I believe that God is holy and that His Word is holy. And I know that we live in confusing times where we wrestle with ourselves over what to think about so many things. We know what God says, but we worry about what our friends think, what our family thinks. But we don’t need to. We don’t need to have an internal battle with ourselves. We don’t need to yell. We don’t need to be silent. We just need to tell the truth.

Be kind to one another. Show compassion for your fellow man. And remember that honesty is still the best policy. It can be hard and it can be lonely. But we can rest in the promise of God’s truth and know that in a world where everything is constantly changing, God’s truth never does.

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Size FAWM

Size FAWM

What do clowns and I have in common? NO, not the frizzy hair. Jerks. No, not the nose. Just stop guessing. This isn’t healthy for our relationship. I’ll just tell you: It’s our feet. Clowns have huge feet, and so do I. I’m not going to tell you what size I am, because I maintain precious little dignity on social media and I’ll be darned if you all start checking out my shoes every time you see me. Let’s just say my feet are fearfully and wonderfully made, or FAWM for short.

I come by it honestly – there is a not a dainty-footed person in my family. My brother has to special-order his shoes because stores don’t sell them. You’d think we’d be taller, but…no. Just my brother is tall. My sister and I have to endure both large feet and not being able to reach the top shelf of our kitchen cabinets. Life is unfair sometimes. Read more

The Mommy Wars

The Mommy Wars

Before I became a mother, I had a vague idea of what parents did. Feed child, clothe child, try to keep child from beating up other children. It was one of those subjects that I was woefully but blissfully ignorant of – I really didn’t have much use for information like which brand of diapers was best or how you need to move like a frickin ninja to escape infant projectile vomit.

I am still far from an expert, but after I had kids, I crossed over to the Other Side. No, not Narnia. The Other Side of the gap that separates parents from non-parents. The side filled with tiny onesies and 800 sets of plastic keys (seriously, do they even work in the plastic cars? Then WHAT IS THE POINT) and dogs that whisper “Hug meeee” at four in the morning when you’re walking to the bathroom. You can look behind you and see the non-parent side for a little while. Then Dora the Explorer asks you to help her find her map and before you know it the non-parent side is nothing more than a distant memory.

The parent side has lots of surprises. You learn words like “Wubanub” and “cluster feeding” and, in our case, “hyerbilirubenimia.” But one of the most unexpected surprises I encountered was the Mommy Wars. If you’re not familiar, the Mommy Wars is an ongoing battle between mothers (and occasionally fathers) over various methods of parenting. For example: formula feeding vs. breastfeeding, strollers vs. babywearing, cloth diapers vs. disposables, velociraptor vs. t-rex, etc etc. I tend to bop through life in a cloud of glitter and Skittles and assume everyone does the same, so I was really surprised to see how often these issues popped up, not to mention the intensity of the arguments they caused. Articles are flung left and right; everyone from psychologists to school teachers to children’s birthday clowns seems to have a scientific opinion on whether letting your baby sleep in your bed will scar him for life. Sometimes people start snapping their fingers and singing and that’s when you know that it just got real.

As much as I love a good argument, I found myself avoiding these particular fights as I delved into research of my own (fine, as I copied every single thing my sister did). Not because I was offended. Not because I wanted to interview those birthday clowns for myself to see if their science was accurate. No, my avoidance was due to something much simpler. Something that I think has the potential to end these Mommy Wars forever. Are you ready for this incredible secret? Here you go:

Apathy.

Yes. Apathy. I do. not. care. I do not care if you feed your child formula. I do not care if you breastfeed your child. I do not care if your child only eats hot sauce. Not because I am a serene, peace-loving person who can rise above such petty conflicts as I practice yoga in my meditation garden. I am just too lazy to care. I am tired. I am busy. I am constantly losing one of my children. So at the end of the day, whether you strap your baby to your back in a pretty wrap or with several socks tied together, I’m cool with it. Just don’t drop the kid because that’s not cool. I mean, I probably wouldn’t turn you in or anything. Actually, just writing about it has pretty much sapped my energy so go ahead and drop little Timmy; I won’t tell.

This isn’t a humble brag where I toot my own lazy horn and show you how I win all the Mommy Wars due to my lack of judging others and indifference to others’ judgment of me. Despite the awkward, chaotic mess that is my daily interaction with people, I do care what other people think of me. I’m only human. But I am a lazy human, and while I have tried hard to get worked up over the fact that Sally Smith doesn’t believe in disposable diapers…eh. What do I care? Is Sally at my house, throwing away my diapers and forcing me to use cloth ones? Has she hired Tonya Harding to bash me in the knee so I can say a lot of embarrassing things on national television that will follow me forever? No? Then…eh. Sally can have her cloth diapers and I can have my disposable ones and somehow I think the world will keep turning.

So, parents and people everywhere – join me on the Other Other Side. The side where you always feel accomplished because your kids are alive at the end of the day and that’s really all you were going for. The side where all your decisions are right because no one was paying attention to them anyway. You don’t even have to put on real pants. Take the plunge. Cross over. Drop your cares and worries at the gate – your toddler or dog will probably eat them and then you won’t even have to step over them.

Apathy: The real future of parenting. I’d put that on a t-shirt, but…eh.

Clearly my parenting is superior to yours.

It’s Totally Different

It’s Totally Different

I recently acquired a second child. I know. I also questioned the wisdom of letting me raise a second child but it’s too late now. Plus she is really cute and smells like strawberries so I want to keep her. And sniff her. All the time.

What were we talking about? Oh, right. Children.

In a true representation of my attitude about parenting, I was not that excited to find out I was having a second child. I wasn’t sad or mad. Mostly surprised. And panicked. So, so panicked. The kind of panic you feel when you realize you have to make a sacrifice to the porcelain throne while you’re in the middle of the check-out lane at the grocery store with a week’s worth of food and a child who is trying to eat the handle of the buggy.

But I had a good reason. Most people who read my posts know that my first child (the afore-mentioned buggy-eater) was born very early at 26 weeks and spent a long time in the hospital fighting for his life. My husband and I had decided to wait for several years to even discuss a second child. Except then God was all “LOL you guys are totes hilarious” and we found out we were going to be parents for the second time in as many years. Cue the panic.

Everyone said the same thing: “It will be totally different.” The odds of the same thing happening with this pregnancy that had happened the first time were probably pretty low. The doctors, friends, family members – they all repeated that to me over and over. It will be totally different. And as things progressed and continued to go well, I believed it. This time would be totally different. None of the fear, no NICU stay, no wondering when my baby would be home, no driving back and forth to the hospital every day. This time, I promised myself, would be great.

And then I realized that I didn’t like that attitude very much. Not that I wanted this baby to stay in the NICU or have any problems, but I was starting to look at my experience with Josh as a bad thing. Slowly but surely I had separated the birth experiences of my children into Things You Never Ever Want To Happen and The Super Best Thing Ever Yay For My Baby. You can guess which one goes in which category. And I really started to hate that distinction.

I get asked all the time if I would change Josh’s circumstances at the time of his birth and during his hospital stay. I always answer no, and that is the honest truth. But over the last few months I began to realize that not only would I not change it; I want to celebrate it. I want to shout from the rooftops that while it didn’t go the way I had planned, I still got to meet my beautiful baby boy and fell in love with him from the get-go. I want to be just as thrilled over his birthday as I am with Jenna’s. When people ask me his age, I want to give his real one, the one that goes with the birthday we will celebrate for years to come as we remember what a blessing he is. I want him to know that even though it was hard, the day he was born was one of the best of my life, right up there with my wedding day and the day Gilmore Girls premiered.

It doesn’t bother me that people remind me how different the experience with each of my children was. It was my own attitude about the situation that bothered me the most. Was it different this time? Yes, so incredibly different. Was it better this time? Not even a little. It was just as exciting, just as amazing, and just as incredible the second time around. Because the thing about having kids is that there are ups and downs and everything in between, and you never really know what lies ahead of you. And at the end of the day none of that matters anyway. All that matters is that on your child’s birthday, whether he celebrates it in the NICU or asleep in your arms, you have something so fantastic that the rest just kind of fades away. That’s is what I want to remember about both of my children. I never want to forget the rest because it’s important, too. But the most important thing I can ever take away from both of my experiences is how amazing it was to see them with my own eyes for the first time and feel a love so deep and immeasurable that I knew I was a goner from the very first seconds of their lives.

So, yes. This time around it has been totally different. I wouldn’t have it any other way…except for how it was the first time.

The Five Types of Facebookers

The Five Types of Facebookers

I spend a lot of time on Facebook. Like, a lot. I imagine my kids’ first sentences will be something like, “Are you going to update your status soon, Empress of the Universe?” Also I will be teaching my kids to address me as Empress of the Universe. And since I not only spend a lot of time on Facebook but also have a degree in public relations, which means I am basically a Facebook expert, I have noticed a trend. The majority of Facebookers I see fall into at least one category, sometimes two. Sometimes three. I fear those people the most. And, lucky you, I have decided to share these categories for your benefit and enjoyment. Which one are you? Are you more than one? Tell me all.

The Liker:

This person may or may not comment, but as soon as your status goes up, you can count on them to click the “like” button to show their approval of your latest update. This person moves like a silent ninja, liking things all over the place, even if what they like makes no sense. Sometimes this person likes other peoples’ comments – people they don’t even know. The most terrifying power this person wields is the notifications. Oh, the notifications. There is nothing like opening up Facebook, clicking on your notifications, and seeing the same profile picture eighteen times in a row because The Liker has struck once again to express their approval for everything you have written in the last three hours. Well played, Liker. Well played.

The InstaCommenter:

I don’t know how this person moves so quickly, but within five seconds of you pressing “post,” this person has already commented on your status/picture/link. This truly baffles me. I am not judging how much time The InstaCommenter spends on Facebook, because people in social media houses shouldn’t throw virtual stones. But how does this person react so fast? HOW? What’s even more impressive/confusing is that this person, much like The Liker, moves swiftly and silently. They may not have had any activity on Facebook for six hours. But the moment you respond to their comment, there they are, ready with an InstaFollowUp. I can only imagine they have some kind of pager attached to their wrist at all times that alerts them to the exciting news that they can once again comment on a Facebook status. Or maybe they’re psychic.

The Drama Llama:

My goodness, this person has a rough life. Or so they would lead you to believe. I am not the Facebook police. You can write what you want on your Facebook page. But there are some days where I see a Drama Llama and have to resist the urge to find a way to cut off their Internet access. You will recognize the Drama Llama because while their crisis will seem urgent and/or terrible, further inspection will show you that what they are experiencing is not, in fact, that big of a freakin’ deal. The Drama Llama is crafty, and toys with your emotions using lots… of…. ellipses… to build up… … … suspense… before doing… a… big reveal IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. An experienced Drama Llama could make buying new shampoo a nail-biter of an event. It’s hard to tell whether the Drama Llama is really this upset about a non-issue, or if they just really like typing sad faces. This is one of the mysteries of life that may never fully be solved.

The Nostalgic Stalker:

Have you ever gotten a notification that someone has liked or commented on a post, clicked to see the post, and been really confused for about thirty seconds before realizing said post is from 2009 and you barely remember writing it? That confusion is brought to you courtesy of the Nostalgic Stalker. Part of the blame has to lie with the silly Facebook newsfeed that shows you posts from two days ago and pretends they are new. But most of the blame lies with the Nostalgic Stalker as they scroll through your profile and acknowledge every post you have made in the last six months. Unlike The Liker and InstaCommenter, subtlety is not this person’s strength. Oftentimes they refuse to acknowledge that any other events have passed since you posted whatever they are commenting on, resulting in gems like, “Hope your wedding is full of blessings!” three years after you get married. Have they not been on Facebook for several months? Do they think you might like to be reminded of the day you graduated college? It’s hard to say why the Nostalgic Stalker does what they do. But one thing is certain – they will do it to you.

The Killjoy:

Oh, man. This person. This person bums me out just to write about, so you can imagine what running into one of them on Facebook is like. The Killjoy’s main goal is to suck the life and fun out of every hilarious or uplifting thing you post. Writing out your favorite Bible verse and posting it as your status? The Killjoy will comment with a fun fact on how that verse is actually severely mistranslated and really does not mean anything close to what you thought. Want to post some lyrics of your favorite inspirational song? The Killjoy will link an article that explains the artist is now on meth and hates kittens. And heaven forbid you post something a little tongue-in-cheek as your status. The Killjoy does not do sarcasm. Any statuses about how you want to sell your baby online will result in lectures on how children are a precious gift, why DFACS does not want you to sell your children, and articles from parenting magazines about loving the moment. Don’t be that person. No one likes that person. At all.

And there you go – the Five Types of Facebookers. They are real. They are out there. I have been all of these at one point or another, and – admit it – so have you. It’s okay. We’re here for you. But seriously, don’t link parenting articles to my status. I will not have that nonsense. I will. not. have it.