Thursday, November 3, 2011

Damned if you do, damned if you don't

I recently read this awesome article over at Jezebel about parenting and sharing in this age of blogs and facebook and open honesty. It particularly resonated after a facebook friend (who is not a parent) made a semi-humorous update to all those new parents who posted pics of their kids in their Halloween costumes to tell them that the kids look uncomfortable and miserable, not cute. I took exception mainly because Jack looked happy as hell in his tiger costume. But I get it, non-parents don't get all gaga over pics of cute kids. But with all these easy avenues for sharing (facebook, blogs, emails, photo texts) how much is too much? As the article says, if you boast too much about your kid, you're an ass. And if you complain too much about the downside, you're an ass. So you pretty much can't win. But, as you know, it is awesome being a parent and, at the same time, there's plenty to complain about. But how do you effectively describe the experience when people only want a short 5 word answer? Here's my favorite part of the amazing run-on sentence: (you can read the whole article here)

In the sound byte of time allowed for humans to actually talk to each other in real-life settings such as jobs, what are the odds that you can convey the full range of the parenting experience to a childless person in such a way that everyone around you can get that you definitely don't think your kid is special in the annoying way, but that you definitely love your kid in the normal way that means you're probably gonna think it's pretty special, but that it's hard to be a parent, but that it's not so hard that you're being a martyr about it, but that it's also awesome, but that you feel like people could use more help and planning and better networks for child-rearing, but that you're definitely not complaining as if you're some kind of victim, but that you definitely chose to be a parent and could have chosen not to, but that it's super rewarding, but that it also doesn't mean that you're not allowed to say it's really extra fucking hard?

Yup, it's hard as hell. But also amazing. And my kid is normal. Which means he's the greatest, most special kid in the whole world. ;-)


  1. Hehehe great post Lisa!
    I think if you want to talk about your child or complain, whatever. People can not read if they have a problem with it! Some people have a job they really love but complain at's human nature. I think 'they' should go talk about famine and poverty or something they actually have experienced!
    And yes Jack is the greatest, most special kid in the world. Next to Liam of course ;)

  2. I agree - great post and VERY thought provoking. I think the whole "mommy blog" thing is great because it's a place where you can actually do/say all of this. I think it's ridiculous when people complain about blogs - if they annoy readers, readers should stop reading them. Since when is the genre of the personal blog NOT self-indulgent to a certain extent?

    As for the comment by your FB friend, I think part of that might also be that if you're not used to being around babies and little kids, you don't know how often they spend their time looking uncomfortable. It still surprises me how often Linus looks at me like he's mildly alarmed and/or in silent judgment and he's only 2.5 months, so I imagine it's mostly gas or involuntary. (At least I hope so.)

    I also think that the article could swap out "parenting" for "graduate school" and "baby" for "dissertation" and it would still basically work.

  3. thanks for posting that! no surprise, i hugely relate. here's my favorite line:

    "Win-win for Tumblr sites everywhere, not so much for those of us actually trying to figure how much we are allowed to talk about something that now affects 99% of our waking life."

    no lie, i went home from your house last weekend and cried a little to kevin about how, between work and commute and baby, i can barely participate in adult conversations because what do i have to talk about besides my secretarial skills or gas mileage or the baby (who i am usually chasing after anyway)?

    not that i'm complaining! ;)

    perhaps you should let your FB friend know when he (for this is surely a dude) posts a pic of himself that is "not cute." i'm guessing you'll have plenty of opportunities.

  4. All I could think when I read this post is WORD. Totally great post. I feel like FB is where I post cute pictures, and I write about the harder stuff on my blog, because, really it's an audience thing. My weird aunt that I don't really talk to doesn't need to know that I'm struggling with a low milk supply, you know? Also, did you see this? Similar take, and I enjoyed it:

    Also, with you on the grad school take, t.