Refugees, Vaginas, and Guns, Oh My!

Last year I took a three month break from Facebook. I even wrote a piece about it but never published it because it was one of those obnoxious “10 Things I learned when I left Facebook” things. Lately I’ve been wanting to sign off, permanently.

I could say it’s the manipulation of my newsfeed to elicit emotion but that’s only part of the problem. Facebook does that, you know? They fill your feed with either negative or positive things to see if you’ll post using certain adjectives. They have a huge psychological research team. It’s not a secret. I’ve listened to many interviews with psychologists who work at Facebook. Last summer my friend posted about her son getting lost at a baseball game and used the story as an example of how easily children can drown at a pool party. For the next few weeks my news feed was filled with stories about children drowning.

Thanks Facebook.

It’s a lot of things, but lately I’m having a very difficult time suffering fools. People sharing articles without realizing it’s from a website that spins propaganda. People posting fake statistics. Just entirely fake, as if facts aren’t a thing. Trump anyone? I mean really, when an entire civilization thinks that facts are up for debate, that we can choose which facts are true, we have a giant problem. This utter loss of intellectualism has happened to the world before. It was called The Dark Ages. Pick up a history book folks. You really don’t want to do this again.

Then there are the Christians using their religion to argue with each other about the whole Syrian refugee debacle. And all I can do is sit there and scratch my head and wonder why religion is involved in that discussion at all. Why do you need to be reminded your Jesus was kind, even showing compassion to lepers and whores? Are you such an awful, self-centered person that the only thing that gets through to you is Jesus? Jesus, love incarnate. But you, you as a human, you’re garbage without that reminder I guess. Without Jesus you would look at those drowning people fleeing slaughter and feel nothing?

This is not about your religious ideology. This is about being human. If you cannot show love outside of religion, then you’re not a good person.

I mean yes, we all get annoyed when someone posts something political that we don’t agree with. But if your world view is based in kindness and facts I will respect it even when I don’t agree.

But if you post propaganda, if you facilitate the spread of ignorance by pushing the ‘share’ button. I’m fucking done. I cannot be nice.

In the last week I’ve unfriended three people simply for posting ignorant shit. And I don’t mean things I personally find ignorant. No, I mean actual ignorance. The misquoting or twisting of facts. The sharing of articles from websites that can only be defined as propaganda. I have no interest in seeing the inner racism and ignorance of my online friends via social media. No thanks, I’d rather read articles about drowning babies.

Then there was the Planned Parenthood shooting.

So yeah, gun control and Planned Parenthood talked about together. What a fucking delight! Hey and while we’re at it, let’s have congress defund Planned Parenthood at the same time and throw in a massacre in California to boot! But wait, oh we’re not done yet!
Wait for it, wait… for… it…

The shooters are Muslim and have links to ISIS, or maybe they just “self radicalized” (because that’s a thing now) the way crazy people do when they get bored raising their beautiful baby girl.

Oh yeah friends, grab the fucking popcorn. Let’s do this shit!

I’m done. I really am.

It’s the first time in my entire life that it’s really getting to me. I’m waking up in the middle of the night. I’ve become every old man reading the newspaper at the breakfast table and muttering, “The world’s gone to shit.” I’m going on acidic rants while standing in the kitchen talking to my husband. He just nods in agreement and listens. Then he tells me that there are these people who actually believe the shooting at Sandy Hook never happened, just like those morons who think the holocaust was a lie. Apparently it was all staged in order to get the public to favor stricter gun control. [Yeah, that worked out]

And my brain explodes right there in the kitchen. Like gasoline on a goddam fire.

I go to bed seething.

I wake up in the morning and like a mental patient I log back onto Facebook to enjoy some more crazy.

Then it dawns on me that it’s not the news. It’s not the refugees fleeing evil while being labeled as having the potential for evil. It’s not the shootings, or even the never ending subjugation of American women.

Nope. That’s just status quo in America.

It’s Facebook.

It’s the ability to actually sit and watch as America brainstorms with their 8th grade reading level and their inability to decipher the difference between entertainment and real news. I’m watching your thoughts friends, and I’m trying to remind myself of what I love about you. I’m trying to be tolerant. I’m trying to focus on your good qualities. I’m wishing everyone had really paid attention in their rhetoric class. I’m wishing you’d taken statistics, or logic and reasoning. I’m wishing you’d taken it, aced it, and remembered how to question information and the media.

monument

But you didn’t. Time to go back to school America.

Educated electorate my ass.

Time for me to log the fuck out.

Dear Old Friend, Some Things I Want You to Know…

Dear Old Friend,

Our mutual friend, she knows you better than I do. I’ve known you longer, but she knows you better.

I’ve loved you longer.

Although there were years where we didn’t talk, years where we lost each other’s phone numbers, a span of time in which our lives may have been too different to align . . .

I still loved you.

We were little girls together. We got our periods together. We practiced gymnastics routines in my backyard together. We gossiped and fought and got drunk for the first time, together. We refilled the bottles from the liquor cabinet with water so your Mom wouldn’t notice the levels were lower. We went jet skiing and purposely sent some asshole kid out into the water on a ski we knew was broken. We laughed from the shore. We stole hair dye from the grocery store and fried our hair in my bathroom. We got boyfriends. We lost our virginity. We went with each other to Planned Parenthood for birth control. We were smart girls. We were strong. We got in fights with our parents and showed up on each other’s doorsteps crying. We wore matching dresses to homecoming. We sat on the floor of the bathroom together for hours painting our nails, deep conditioning our hair and listening to Da Brat. We got driver’s licenses and drove around downtown smoking weed.

We grew up.

We grew apart.

dear_old_friend

And now you’re about to have your first baby. A baby that for most of your life you were unsure you’d ever have.

We’re talking again. I don’t want you to think it’s only because of the baby.

It is because of you.

I’ve missed you, but I knew up until now you probably couldn’t relate to me. Maybe I’m wrong about that. If so, I’m sorry, I should have been there.

I know how hard this is going to be for you, because it was hard for me. I longed for it, and it was still hard for me. I know the ways in which it will rock you because I knew you as a girl.

I know you, even after all these years. I’m here for you.

You know me too, by the way. In a way no one else ever will. Because at one point in our lives we told each other everything. Everything.

I have been warned not to “scare you,” not to overload you with information. I have anyway, I cannot help it. It’s in my nature to talk too damn much. I have a compulsion to share information. Yes, I know what an annoying personality quality this is. But you already knew that about me, now didn’t you?

I’m sorry if I overwhelmed you, but shit’s about to get overwhelming and I’ll be here.

When we spoke on the phone the other day I told you there was no possible way to prepare for motherhood. I cannot tell you what it will be like. I can only tell you what it was like for me. You probably don’t really care about what happened to me, about my experience. You will have your own. But incase you’re wondering what it felt like, well, this is the only way I know how to explain it:

You will think back to when you didn’t have kids and your brain will insert them into memories. You’ll remember a trip to Mexico and for a split second you’ll think, oh where was he? Then you’ll remember, Oh, he wasn’t born yet. And this concept will seem impossible. The idea of a time and place, a universe in which they didn’t exist. You will feel deeply as if they were always with you. And this will feel spiritual and cyclical in a way that will make you believe in the possibility of fate, reincarnation, God, whatever. You will look at their face and it will seem familiar in a way that transcends place and time.

I look at my children and I see my parents, and grandparents and old worn out black and white photographs of relatives that died long before I arrived. I look at my baby girl frown and I see my husband and I, but I also see the corners of her mouth turned down the exact same way her grandmother looked on her deathbed. I see them all in their faces. As my father once said of my son, “I look at his face and I feel like I’m looking at a face I’ve seen everyday for my entire life.”

I would often rock my son to sleep as a baby and gaze upon his face and have the vivid feeling that my grandmother did this same thing with this same boy. I felt connected in a way that I never thought possible. As my Mother once told me, “Having children will make you understand that you are truly just one link in a very long chain.”

It gave me compassion for my parents and all the mistakes they made just trying to do what was best with the tools their parents had given them. Sometimes they didn’t have the right tools. Sometimes I don’t either. I wept, flooded with a love I now understood they felt for me.

At night I rock a baby girl that looks like me. I put her blonde hair up in pig tails and look in her giant blue eyes and I know how my mother felt about me. Loving my daughter is loving myself, but it is also loving my mother, and her mother.

This is the thing, mothering your babies will drain you of everything. But the love for one’s child is a form of self love. I love them. They are me.

I love me.

I didn’t always love me.

I see so much of me in my babies. I see things in them I used to hate about myself. I realize they were born that way, and I must have been too. I forgive myself my flaws by loving theirs.

I held my infant son and sang “Beautiful Boy” to him with tears streaming down my face. I thought of my aunt (the most loving mother) who lost a son when he was fifteen. I relived his death with my newfound perspective and sobbed in the living room unable to breath as I nursed my own boy.

My heart ripped wide open and there was no putting it back together.

Your heart is going to break my friend, for the most beautiful possible reason.

If You Never Say F@#K We Can’t Be Friends

I don’t care about mud, and puddle jumping, sand from the sandbox tracked onto my hardwood floors, ruined clothes, squabbles over toys, crumbs on the floor or frosting on my leather couch. I don’t care if your kid is having a bad day and is acting like it. I don’t care if your kid refuses to eat what I’m serving for lunch. I don’t care that your three-year-old won’t leave my house without kicking and screaming.

I just don’t care.

I do care about not having a life that’s my own. I care about finishing sentences without the interruption of screaming preschoolers, or worse, parents easily distracted by over-parenting. I want to talk to you, to finish a thought, or hell, a story. I want you to be able to finish a thought. I want to get to know you, not your kids. I’m sorry but I don’t. I want the kids to get to know one another, to like each other, but I want to like you. I don’t want to hear about the clothes you just got on sale at Baby Gap, or about the swim lesson your son’s in or how much he loves to read. I want to know what TV shows you watch, what music you listen to in the car when you’re alone, and where you grew up. I want to know what you were like in high school or that really funny story of college drunkenness. That story you used to tell at parties before you had kids, before.

I want to know about before, because frankly I know what you do now.

And if you must talk about your kids, I want to have a real conversation about how you view motherhood. Not how much you love your kids or how blessed you feel to have them. I mean, sure, we’ll talk about that, but I want to know how you really feel about the loss (or discovery) of identity that comes with motherhood.

Let’s talk about the metamorphosis.

Let’s be honest and pretend like we didn’t just meet each other. I want to see your house dirty. Don’t worry about those dishes still in the sink from breakfast. I want to see the room where you sleep. Let’s face it, as adults we’re rarely close enough with a friend to show them the master bedroom, bed unmade, dirty laundry on the floor, plethora of water glasses on the nightstand. And I want to hear you swear, sure you can say it under your breath so the kids don’t hear, but at some point I’m going to need to hear you say fuck.

If you never say fuck we can’t be friends.

If you never complain we can’t be friends. I’m not a negative person and I want to take joy in your joy, but I’m honest about my existence. I like honesty about the human condition. Honest conversations are my religion. So go on, ignore the kids for a second and ask me anything.

Anything, I’ll tell you.

Because I’m really getting sick of the polite ‘Mom-friendship.’ You know the one I mean. We meet at the park for a playdate. We talk about our kids while drinking Starbucks. Our conversation is constantly interrupted by some child needing to be rescued off the tall slide, or needing to be pushed on a swing. It’s irrelevant anyhow because we’re never really talking about anything of importance. I mean really, are we? We talk about the kids, always the kids. I know all about your kids, your pregnancy, your birth, the reason behind their names, but I couldn’t tell you where you went to college or what your middle name is, and I’ve known you for over a year. We can make it through several playdates before I even find out how you met your spouse, or what you did before you had kids.

Maybe this is just part of getting older. Close friendships are harder and harder to find because they take years to cultivate. I just don’t have that kind of time anymore. As it turns out children are pretty damn time consuming. And just because we have children the same age doesn’t mean we’re going to have anything else in common. This is what’s so damn hard about making mom friends. So many of us keep it polite. We keep it nice and clean and censored to avoid judgment, because we’re human. Humans judge each other, and as it turns out mothers are the worst offenders.

I promise not to judge you.

So please, let’s just cut the shit and expedite this process. Where were you when you had your first period? Lost your virginity? Where did you grow up and what did your parents do for a living? What kind of music did you listen to in high school? Why did you fall in love with your spouse?

Maybe I’ll make a friendship questionnaire. If I like your answers you’ll be awarded half of a gold plated “Best Friends” necklace. I’m going to need the side that reads “Be Fri.” You can have “St Ends.” That’s just how I roll.