I’ve noticed a pattern in past new year’s resolutions: write more, exercise more, shower more. You see?
This year, as I stepped back to take a look at my proverbial plate, I thought to myself, why am I adding more? What could I take away from my life that would make it better?
Facebook less. That’s not a typo, that’s “Facebook” as a verb. And that doesn’t mean I will be Instagramming more.
Watch less TV. I’m currently in a bingewatching foggy hangover state from staying up way too late watching — don’t judge — season 2 of Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce.
Shop online less. It’s not so much that I buy a lot online, rather I go from site to site adding items to carts. “Lindsey, did you forget something?” is a popular email in my inbox. It’s therapeutic, but so is cutting.
Looking at my resolutions, you will see a theme within a theme. We spend 70% of our lives in front of digital media. Yipes. Admittedly some of these “less” resolutions may imply more of something else, but hopefully that will be a healthy natural reaction in the right direction, and not a force against the fibers of my being and all I hold dear. (Note, I did not say “drink less”. I’m not a masochist.)
…Said no one ever on their deathbed. But it was actually a friend’s Facebook post that served as a wakeup call to me that I was wasting away in one of my anxiety-induced future-planning panics and not being present.
This friend was one of the first moms I ever met in Asheville. We had our sons within days of each other. We went to story times together at the library. Her son’s first birthday party was my first kid’s birthday party. I was so blown away by the artistic talent she displayed on the invitation that it remained pinned on my bulletin board for several years. We still run into each other every now and then and have mutual friends. We are no longer what I would call friends, but acquaintances sounds so cold, and “cold” is not an adjective anyone would use to describe an interaction with “Sarah.”
We are the same age. We have boys the same age. And she was diagnosed with advanced, aggressive, incurable bile duct cancer. When I read these words that she found the courage to write and share, my heart rose into my throat, then sank to the pit of my stomach.
I started this post two weeks ago and yesterday found out that Sarah passed away. I’ve always empathized deeper than I probably should. In preschool, I sobbed when my friend Shannon (not a good friend) told me her grandmother (who I never met) died. I just couldn’t help but put myself in her shoes, imagining how Shannon must be feeling, and it hurt so much. So now, even knowing Sarah as briefly as I did, I’m overcome with sadness for her family and friends. And sad for her that as a mother, she didn’t get to see her child grow up.
I’m hugging my children a little more this week, spending a little more time on the back deck staring at the mountains and enjoying the outside sounds, spending a little less time on Airbnb planning my next escape.
Fuck a bucket list. I’m keeping a Fuck It list… a list of people, places and things that aren’t worth my time or energy. I may never make it to that women’s surfing/yoga retreat in Mexico, but when I find myself sweating the small stuff or reaching for that imaginary Xanax, I can take out my Fuck It List to remind myself that life is short, and can in the most tragic of situations, be even shorter. Will I wish that I traveled more? Maybe. But I know I won’t wish that I’d been scrolling more through Facebook to see friends on their beach vacations, kids all smocked clothes and smiles, while my own daughter stamps our walls because I’m too busy “liking” everyone else’s lives to notice. Facebook? Fuck it.
My son does and says a lot of cute/funny/adorable stuff. Like every other parent, I think my own children are the smartest, most wonderful people on the planet. But the child in this photo, crying because “his sushi is too cold,” is not my child. While hilarious, this picture captures this boy’s less-than-stellar side. Do we post pictures of ourselves at our worst on our Facebook pages? No. Of course not. Our Facebook selves are our best selves. The best moments of our relationships. The most flattering selfies and TBTs. The pictures of us with our girlfriends, cocktails in hand, mid-laugh with our faces tilted at the perfect non-double chin angle. So why do we think it’s okay to post the most embarrassing photos of our children for all to see?
Kids (even the cutest babies with the cutest tushies) grow up into real live people of all different temperaments with all sorts of likes and dislikes. And some of these people are going to be very private people who don’t want their life documented online. They might not even want their own Facebook pages (gasp!). But if we, as parents, have already published every tantrum, bath, and costumed holiday, it’s a little too late for that. It’s already out there online for all to see. And once it’s out there, you can’t take it back. We’ve taken that choice away from them.
At first glance, this doesn’t look like a photo of me at all. But see if you can spot me (…one of these things is not like the other…). There’s a very funny story behind why I look like a demented protestor in this pic, which my friend posted in her wedding album on Facebook. Which got more comments than any other pic out of the hundreds from the day. And I’m okay with it. In fact, I think it’s hilarious. But that’s me.
As someone who grew up with the dawn of the Internet, I had the luxury of choosing how much of myself I would share online. Sure, there’s been the occasional unflattering pic posted by friends (see above), but I take it with grace and the good-natured ribbing in which it was intended. I can laugh at myself as easily as I laugh at others. That’s just me. That might not be Jed or Abbie. I just don’t know yet, and I think they deserve to have the same choices as I did.
So as much as I want to share the picture of Jed dancing in his knight helmet, undies and nothing else (I call it his birthday suit of armor) — as much as I want to show you the discipline report he got from school and tell you what he did to get it — I resist. I know it will make you laugh, because it sure made me laugh. I know you will “like” it and that will make me feel good. But how will Jed feel?
I’m not judging parents who post pics of their kids on Facebook or even dedicate entire blogs to their children. That is their choice, and I totally understand. That’s them.
I love my son. He is the cutest thing in the entire world and I’m dying to share every adorable thing he does on my blog and on Facebook. But something is holding me back. A couple of years ago, I was writing posts for another blog and got a comment from some total whackjob. I had written a post that included a picture of me, and this guy decided to go to town. It was mean and insulting and unfounded… and most of all scary. If crazy people could see photos I publish of me, then they can see pics I put up of Jed. All of the sudden my imagination went wild with Criminal Mind-fulness of the sickos that are out there cyberstalking children, and I did NOT want them laying their eyes on mine. I admit that I cave and post the occasional photo of Jed on Facebook (how can I resist Halloween?), but I have my privacy settings set so that only my “friends” (and hackers) can see. I also have a password protected Shutterfly account for close friends and family.
Thus far, I’ve posted one picture of Jed on my blog. It was too cute to resist. But in general, I think it’s only fair that Jed be in control of his online identity. I got to choose how I was represented online and he should have the freedom to do the same. When he’s 10, I don’t want him to see hundreds of photos of himself on the Internet only to realize he’s a very private person and would rather not have that naked picture of him in the tub with his bubble bath mohawk on display for all the world to see (no matter how terribly cute it is).
So my reasoning is two-fold: 1. Out of respect for Jed and his privacy, and 2. My whacky imagination and all of the sickos and whackos out there waiting to attack us… all because of a pic I put up of Jed that’s speaking to them in tongues or something.