Sturm und Mom

The Storm & Stress (& Joy) of Motherhood

Archive for the tag “blogging”

Are We All a Bunch of Braggarts?

Check out this awesome article at the Wall Street Journal about bragging and social media (like, maybe, the Blogosphere would be included?)  Are We All Braggarts Now? – WSJ.com.

As Elizabeth Bernstein writes,

Changes in parenting style also play a role. Nowadays, every moment—first day of school, exhausted nap in the back seat of the car—is documented. The problem is that these shared moments can easily come off as crowing about how great Mom and Dad are to have raised such an adorable kid.

We’ve become so accustomed to boasting that we don’t even realize what we’re doing. And it’s harmful to our relationships because it turns people off.

Read the rest here.  I remember 25 years ago, being told by an older co-worker to “never say anything negative.”

People don’t like downers, she said.  If you say something, make it positive.  If someone asks how your trip was, say it was great, even if you spent the entire time indoors eating Dorritos from the vending machine and making up dialogue with the TV turned down.

As for parenting, and as a parent blogger, you have to wonder how all this “look nice Luv, I want to put this picture on Facebook” is warping our kids minds and view of the world.  But is there a corollary of “suckitude bragging”?  You know, the folks that no matter how bad you’ve got it, they’ve got it one stroke worse?

Anyways.  I’ve got to fold laundry while standing on my un-vacuumed carpet while I gaze out the window at my no-longer-weeded garden.  I told the kids to get out their pj’s but they ignored me.

There.  I hope that made you feel better.

Whither Sturm und Mom?

Enjoy the entire 39 days of a Canadian Summer!

I’m not sure what’s going to happen to this blog.  I just realize that a this puppy’s been gestating about as long as a baby.  Is this thing my 7th kid?  I don’t’ know.  But I DO love list posts, so I thought I would summarize myself in one.

5 Truths I Learnt in 9 Months of Blogging

1. Consistency is (often) way more important than brilliance.

People want what they want.  When I started blogging, I thought I would write commentary on social issues related to Motherhood.  That proved waaay too time consuming for a hobby.  I also felt uncomfortable writing about religion, like I was wearing my mother’s interview clothes to a party of older people, thinking that would make me fit in.  Since I’m not a programmer/chef/expert about anything, this leaves general purpose Mommy blogging.  But, having going through all these permutations over the last few months, means that anyone who liked my blog in the first month, probably hates it now.  Successful blogs are uni-purpose.

2. As far as a money-making opportunity, you’re better off working at Starbucks

As Wordtabulous wrote, we’re doing this in some way to be discovered, and that’s okay.  But just like that small town gal with great gams and a big heart, there’s a million others out there.  As far as I can tell, the business model behind most “Make Money Blogging Guides,”  is to sell the guide to other people who want to make money on the Internet.  Besides, most well-read bloggers are constantly referencing their lack of cash, so if they can’t make it, don’t count on anything other than an occasional free product sample to review.

3. Blogging is more about community than writing

If you want a widely read blog, you must promote yourself via whatever Social Media you can get your keyboard on.  You must also seek out others with the same “brand”/message/genre and start trying to entice their readership to check out your page.  If you have a product, like a book or a consulting service, that you are already trying to promote, then this is just another day at the virtual office.  But if, like me you have forgone real paid employment to spend time with your kids, this can become a shockingly draining hobby.

4. If the real you wasn’t popular in Highschool, the Internet isn’t going to change that

Blogs are driven by one of two things — information or personality.  If your high school personality was more Square Pegs than Beverly Hills 90210, it doesn’t get any better on line.  Sure, you’ll find more people who see things your way — but the majority still won’t.  This isn’t good or bad, but it is the truth.  Not only that, a lot of what will be kicking your stats is total junk.  Pages of inspiration boards as you seek the perfect Fall lipstick.  Rants about how some organic snack doesn’t meet some standard in Europe so it shouldn’t be sold here.  Nasty tales of what you did to someone’s daughter at a bar last Saturday night.  The cream may always rise to the top, but so does the garbage on Lake Michigan.  (Sorry for the Goodtimes reference.)

5. Blogging will teach you something about yourself that you didn’t really know…

…and with that knowledge you can do something that you really need to be doing.  You’ll learn what style of communicator you are, get used to being critiqued by strangers, learn how to tailor your ideas for an audience, and some of how the Blogosphere operates.  At the very least, you’ll figure out what doesn’t work for you.  With that, you can go forward to accomplish what will make you most happy.

I finally realized that I have been put on this Earth to succeed at something.  This isn’t being selfish, it’s being who I am.  I really like writing and explaining complex ideas with words, and I don’t really like the spotlight.  And I want to earn some money before I die.  I’ve finally accepted that I’m driven, and rather than being a character flaw, it’s my DNA.  By accepting this, I can manage my life to reflect my values, rather than just fumbling around wondering what’s wrong with me.

Being a typical, wacko INTJ female I couldn’t just publish a Gone Fishin’/Closed for Renovations post as I took the summer off to get my head in order and this blog back on track.  But you probably are used to that since you’ve all been here before.  Which is awesome.  I couldn’t wish for a better group of commenters, and “Like”-ers, and Facebook friends and all the rest who have taken time out of their lives to give this a read.  You are all the best, or as Princess would say, “Bestest in the world.  Even better than McDonald’s!”

Have a great summer, folks!  Take it easy and God Bless!

Escape from Perfectland

If you buy my house, I'll thrown in my laundry!!

I was agreeing with Elizabeth Esther’s take on Mommy Bloggers and their “oh-so-natural” lives, when I started trying to figure out why we do this to ourselves.  Any Mother who’s been on the Internet knows what I’m talking about here:  all those ever so perfect blogs with the lovely pictures of the great crafts, the repurposed toddler dresses, the homemade educational toys, the organic gluten-free everything to eat, the hand painted baby’s room mural.  And just as Elizabeth points out (the other one,) as soon as you’ve been around the block a few times, you know that this isn’t the whole story.  It can’t be.  Motherhood is a messy, tumultuous business, with lots of fibs, and fudges, and milk spilt all over the organic steamed broccoli that no one will eat anyway.

I ruminate upon this as I scrub my house within an inch of its drywall.  Part of the reason that this poor blog has been put out to pasture for the past week is that we are desperately trying to list our house as soon as possible.  Part of the work required, as anyone who has tried to sell a house in the last 4 years will tell you, is that it must look Perfect.  As is in “Wow!  I didn’t know that a structure could be occupied continuously for 30 years, and have no one ever set foot in it.”  Every single picture?  GONE!  Kids’ toothbrushes in the bathroom?  HIDE THEM!  Kids’ toys anywhere?  BURN THEM!  Tiny little toe prints on the hardwood?  WHAT??  YOU MEAN YOU ARE STILL ALLOWING YOUR CHILDREN TO WALK IN YOUR HOUSE?  (And you said you are serious about selling?  Parents.)

Over and over again I keep coming up with the news that people, especially younger Gen X’s and Millennials, want perfect and they want it now.  They want a starter home with slate counters, stainless steel kitchens, and some kind of rare rainforest hardwood that can only be harvested by indigenous tree climbers on alternating Full Moons.  And they don’t mind paying mortgages for 35 years to get all this, either.  Because which is worse, being owned by a Bank or having to wait?  It seems that most folks are picking Perfect over Free.  And what’s true in real estate, is just as true in Motherhood.

“So, what?” you might be saying.  “Hasn’t it always been like this?  June Cleaver and 2.5 in the neat and tidy house?  Pot roast on the table and Dad gets his pension 65?”

But, back then everyone wanted the Perfect Life, but everyone agreed on what the Perfect Life was.  Children, Mom at home, Dad gainfully employed, ownership of a modest house, a car in the driveway.  Now, no matter what Perfect you seek to emulate, someone is there telling you how wrong you are.  Stay-at-home?  That’s nice, until your kids need the programs that your extra income would have bought.  Birthday party?  Oh sweet, actually too sweet, since all that sugar will ruin their health.  Put them in hockey?  Fine, unless running to all those games means you eat too much fast-food in the car.  But I suppose if good health isn’t a priority for you…..

I once heard a mom of Baby-Boomers proclaim that, “As long as they graduated high school, we knew we had finished as parents.”  Could you imagine how great that would be?  That we could define success in Motherhood as raising adults that have finished high school, got a job and moved out?  And we as parents could only be required to provide a home environment that would allow them to do that.  Everything else, the organic diet, the homeschooling, the musical theatre camp, was just an “if you want”?   Maybe we would have fewer adults graduating with their second Masters without any prospect of gainful employment, and thirty-something parents asking their kids’ Grandparents for “help” with the mortgage.

All this uncertainty, married with a paranoia of unknowingly making a mistake, is fuelling this “my lovely life” blog-o-frenzy.  That’s why, as evident in many of the comments in Elizabeth’s original post, these ladies respond as if they are the ones under attack — because in their minds they have responded to this feeling of never being good enough by drawing up the lines of their own battle and fighting back.  Except, that by doing that, they unwittingly become soldiers in the enemy’s army.  You don’t overcome June Cleaver Perfect, or Celebrity Mom Perfect, by substituting Crunchy Momma Perfect.  We need to remember that some of the greatest human beings ever to live never had Mothers who cared about how white the toes of their socks were, and as for diet — only cared that they had one.

All this Perfect is costing us our freedom; freedom to be happy, to enjoy ourselves as Mothers, to make choices based on what we think is best rather than on how we will be judged.  So I’ve said good-bye to Perfectland, and never looked back.  Let me tell you, the grass, even littered with dollarstore toys, fruit leather wrappers and the occasional Happy Meal wrapper, is still a heck of a lot greener.

My Jonah Moment

Sorry, I haven’t been around much the last week.  I haven’t fallen off the blogging map, just had some stuff come up around here that has taken all my time.  I figured it was better to lie low for a while rather than just post any ol’ thing, though that is pretty much what this blog is about — any ol’ thing that pops into my head, but I digress…

It all began while I was gently encouraging in a loving, yet persistent way, (ahem) my husband to get cracking on those extra bedrooms we need in the basement for the kids.  God may have blessed us with six beautiful children, but throwing one boy into a stew of all girls, certainly makes the sleeping arrangements rather tricky.  When I sat down and took a hard look at this work schedule and did a preliminary budget for the renovations, I realized that a monkey wrench has been thrown into our attempt to stay put in this house.  Or rather, has thrown us out the door.  While we are not moving to any McMansion, we have finally had to admit that three bedrooms above grade just doesn’t cut it for us right now, and that we need to look for something with 4 bedrooms and no immediate renovations required.  That means moving, which I hear only works if you sell your house.  If I were sitting beside you speaking this, you would hear me insert one of the many language intensifiers I have been using lately, but since I’m the one typing right now, I’m going to sanitize my image and leave it clean.

Sitting in Church on Sunday morning, in between distracted thoughts about whether or not I could survive on 3 hours of sleep nightly for the next week, I overhead the a reading from the Book of Jonah, and I realized that this whole house thing is my Jonah Moment.  Jonah was the prophet that God sent to the city of Nineveh, or at least he would have been, if Jonah had actually gone the first time.  That’s how he ended up inside “the belly of the fish” — he was tossed overboard in a storm trying to sail in the opposite direction.   And that’s what I’ve been doing.  No, I am not going to bumper sticker my car with “Providence is my Realtor.”  But I have been running away from a difficult decision, even though the answer was staring me in the face.  I just didn’t like the answer.  So, I kept asking the question.  And rephrasing it.  And doing some internet research.  And asking other people’s opinions.  And sleeping on it.  And so on and so on….

And now, I’m just stuck with boxes and boxes.  My sweet, overworked husband and I are both INTJ personality types, which is nicknamed “the Mastermind.”  This means that we have set an insane deadline to get the house ready and, of course, we want to sell it ourselves to save the commission.  Don’t worry — Sweetie Pie (9 tomorrow) said that she would help with showings.  I’ve already read two books on selling your house, and two on staging your house (just one more to get through!)  Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Thanks for sticking with me as things get a little intermittent.  I promise I’ll be back to normal soon.  Or may a whale swallow me whole.

 

 

All Sixes and Sevens

My Mom had an unique expression for describing being out of sorts. “You’re all sixes and sevens,” she’d say.

I’ve felt like that for a while now, but haven’t had external validation until a few days ago. I was looking for large family blogs on the web, and stumbled on a few that were collecting links from any Mommy who was interested.  Except for one condition:  7 kids or more.

It’s official.  I don’t have a big enough family to be “special” and I have too many kids to be “normal.”  In the gigantic game of family match-up, no one is picking our family for their team.

However, I’ve noticed that most big families that make a point of getting out there to represent “Big Family-ism,” the “many-kid boosters” as it were, seem to be pretty interested in boosting a whole bunch of stuff that I don’t necessarily go for, either.  I hear a lot of advice and bite my tongue:  Homeschool or they’ll lose their faith.  Natural health because drugs just make you sicker.  Juicing cures everything.  Organic food because that’s what people who love their kids feed them.   If your kids are bad, it’s because you don’t eat whole grains.

Until this blog, I never made a big deal about how many kids I have.  I try not to bring it up (unless I have all six with me and they are bringing up the rear.)  I don’t want an award, a prize, or young Moms to follow me around looking for advice.  I also don’t want excuses.  I can get everyone to Church on time, as they say.  I think that I should try to have a family dressed in clean clothes, well-mannered, with enough social skills to carry on a conversation with someone their age.  If you have two kids, you pretty much do what I do, except I’ve got a couple of babysitters waiting in the wings.  I am not a specimen nor a spectacle.

In retrospect, I doubt I belong in the official big family club.  I’ve never been much of a joiner, not since I got kicked out of Brownies for a dispute over Easter Egg dye.  I’ve always been the loner, like when I took shop in Grade 7, just to make a point.  But this point is a little bit bigger — the next time these folks make you feel like you don’t measure up, remember that they even get under the skin of the Gal with Six.

Good mothers support each other.  They don’t look for chinks in others’ armour to play a game of “Who Loves Our Kid the Most.”

This Post Grants Wishes

I must blog today.  Why?  Because on Wednesday I blogged a list of observations (complaints) entitled Oh Why…, where I asked (whined) why :

if someone is going to ring the doorbell, it will come during the one time, on the one day, I actually get the baby to nap through the afternoon?

Well, that must of pleased the blogging fairies, for the very next day as the Baby was finally taking nap, the door bell rang not once but twice.  Not only did my WordPress Dashboard somehow create the very reality that I wrote about, it perfected it by making sure the Baby never woke up.  Wow.

Having discovered my magical Twilight Zone-type property of this post screen, I will now blog that I am about to come into a multi-million dollar inheritance, or receive a book contract to write about my amazingly funny and interesting life.  At the very least my bloody Christmas Cards will arrive from huge photo printing website from whence I ordered them in the middle of November.  Like by Monday, please, so I can send them to my Mother.

Though, I’m not sure anyone but me cares.  I’m not trying to be disturbingly harsh, but maybe it’s true.   Every year I spend all this money on custom photo cards, and all this time selecting the picture, and retouching it, and then turning it sepia, and then black and white, just to try to my family look the best that I can.  Then, I hand address all the envelopes, and write cute little personal messages, and lick them, and stamp them and run then to the post office.  And all I get back are three cards:  from the Dentist, the Chiropractor, and a Ford Dealership we once stopped in at.

I’m starting to get the picture.  No one wants Christmas Cards.  Oh, you say “Thanks for the nice card, Liz.”  But what you are really saying is “I tossed your Christmas Card, Liz, but I still like you even though you act as if you are 80 years old with these dumb cards you keep sending out, which I don’t even get because I only check the mail every 10 days, since no one under 100 sends anything by the mail anymore.  I’m only thanking you so you don’t go looking for it when you come to my house, but instead assume I’ve squirrelled it away in some special place where I will treasure it forever.  But I haven’t.  Unless you call the recycle bin a ‘treasured place.’  Sorry.”

I realized that I am like the last person on the desert island who speaks some two thousand year old pre-historic language which is about to go extinct unless I keep speaking it.  I should just admit that the days of speaking Bo, or Beothuk, or Northern Pomo are done, and get on with my life.  Instead, I try to talk myself into giving it another year.  I think that what the entire Postal Service and greeting card industry couldn’t do, I can — reverse the decline in Christmas Cards.  Somehow, all these 40 people are going to get a piece of folded cardstock with my kids’ faces on it and go “Holy Santa’s Knickers!  I gotta start sending these out right now!”

But this is all just Pixie Dust right now, for I have no Christmas Cards to send.  They haven’t arrived, because the huge company who printed and shipped them, doesn’t provide tracking numbers to Canada.  Being so close to the North Pole, they thought, Santa would take care of it.  I ordered these cards back in November, so I would have them by December 1, and I could send them out early.  This would be like a little Christmas present to myself.  It would prove that even though 90% of my life are controlled by 6 other people, there is only little sliver of real estate that I have total utter control over.  And now that’s all gone.

So, I am including the following note with my cards, if they ever arrive:

Dearest Recipient,

This card should have been sent out X weeks ago, but big, huge, photo printing company who was supposed to get to them to me in time didn’t.  Now, this card is late, but I wish you to have full knowledge that it is not my fault.

Love

Liz

c.c. CEO, Big Huge Photo Printing Company that ships late

I’ve made up my mind.  This is the last year of these shenanigans.  Christmas 2012 is going to be different.

I’m going to write about it in my blog, and my magic WordPress Dashboard will send them out.

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