how parents on Facebook ruin the idea of parenthood for me.

This post is dedicated to Jacob and the endless, sardonic conversations we have about everything, including this topic.

I realize I got a Facebook in high school.  I realize I’m no longer a college student and I still have a Facebook.  Yet I always fall back on the fact that Facebook was invented for college students.  Seeing parents on Facebook weirded me out during college.  Now, much to my dismay (and occasional amusement, such as during sardonic conversation), I have more and more friends or friends of friends, etc., growing up from those college kids with Facebooks to becoming parents.

It seems like you can only tell Facebook No me gusta! so many times before it becomes evident it’s just screwing with you.  Yes, I’m pretty sure Facebook is going I, Robot on us and becoming a machine smarter than the rest of us, knowing us so much better than we do that it can psychologically destroy us with redundant newsfeeds and advertisements about things we don’t gusta!  When you tell it “I don’t want to see this in my newsfeed”, it registers it as “endless baby photos upset her…mwahaha!”.  When you start a relationship, Facebook decides you’re suddenly going to read every update from your significant other, his/her family, his/her extended family, etc., etc., and that suddenly all of your advertisements are going to be about jewelry, wedding discounts, and babies.  NO I WILL NOT BE A PRODUCT OF YOUR ARTIFICAL SOCIETY.  (Well, I will admit I found it pretty funny when my brother kept getting advertisements for gay cruises and finally realized he had haphazardly put “Interested in Men” on his profile.)

But Facebook is only a tool making us realize the things we really don’t care about in life.  And I find the source of most of my frustration revolves around new parents who decide it’s okay to tell us TMI on a daily basis.  So, after reading several articles on this exact topic (Amen, I’m not alone!), I’ve put together my own list of how (new) parents on Facebook drive me crazy and subsequently ruin the idea of parenthood for me:

1. Ultrasounds

It looks like an alien, and I don’t understand who needs to see pictures of your insides who couldn’t just look at them at the next family event.

2. Pregnancy Updates

Please, tell me more about how you threw up again today, or what you’re craving, or whatever weird, gross pregnancy thing you have to share with us all (TMI!).

3. Hospital Pictures

Pretty sure I’ve covered most of these before.  I hate hospital pictures.  You look gross, your baby looks really gross, and I consider it a private affair.  You could at least wash the thing off a few (hundred) times first.

4. Baby Pictures

Okay, cool, it’s a baby.  You think it’s way cuter than the general public because it’s related to you.  It also has an egghead, hardly opens its eyes, and it’s totally not capable of making a beer run so what’s the use in having one of those around?  Just get a cat.  They at least feed themselves.

5. Real-Time Updates

I’ve definitely written about this before.  Do new mothers even realize how much danger they put their children in by posting every damn thing about them to the internet?  What they wear, what they ate, and everything is geotagged now.  Yeah, even if you think it isn’t, trust me – I know how to pull up Geotag codes on Instagram and other photos with embedded information.  Chances are, I can find your house and the exact room you took your picture in within a minute.  And I am very much technology illiterate, so just imagine the possibilities.  And maybe some folks live vicariously through you, but what are your children going to think in a few years when they have their own Facebook and pull up the archives?  Probably something like, “Way to go, mom, I officially hate my life.”

And now for the big finale….

6. Counting Ages in Months

I remember the first time I saw “24 months” and I kind of stopped for a moment and thought, Wait, that’s divisible by 12…. ((cue Lavon Hayes NO imitation)) Naw, NAW,….NAWWWW!  It should be an official rule that children’s ages may NOT be counted in months after 18 months of age.  I read online a woman who will count her child’s age up to five years in months.  FIVE YEARS.  Because “five months makes a huge difference when you’re five”.  UMM, yeah and also every child develops differently so a 21-month-old and a 35-month-old might have the same linguistic skills but different motor abilities.  NO.  I just cannot take it seriously, counting a child’s age in months.  It’s completely ridiculous.  It’s a sign of “This is my first time!  I have no idea what I’m doing!”  Or at least that’s what most of my sardonic conversations conclude.  I just…can’t even.

Also, what is WITH these new personalized chairs?  I have seen so many new mothers with these miniature sofas with their kids’ names on it.  Great, I have an idea – let’s get a gift with the child’s name on it so that only they can use it (because it’s personalized), and it will only last them as long as they can fit into it (probably a few years),….and it will be perfect to set up in front of the television so they can begin their long lives as sponge-brained byproducts of this lazy, overpopulated world…….

Okay, I’m done.  It’s snowing, and I like the snow because there aren’t any babies in snow.  Or, if there are, you can’t see them because they were dropped and buried in it.  😛

machine babies.

Next week, I will begin co-teaching an 8th grade world religion/social justice class.  As part of my preparation, I have been reading a series of books recommended by the program Heed the Call.  One of the books I’m reading is called Nurturing Children and Youth by Tracey L. Hurd.  The first chapter opens with “The Infant and Young Toddler – Newborn through Age Two” and discussing the physical development of children.  Naturally, I’m thinking about this topic and every way possible that society is messing it up.

According to the book, an infant triples his bodyweight in the first year of his life.  His brain grows from 1/4 of its adult size to 3/4 of its adult size.  Yes, he will grow half of his brain by his first birthday.  HALF.  I didn’t even have to continue reading to have a mental digression on these facts.  I mean, HALF!?

Remember when Time Magazine published this controversial cover?  People didn’t like it.  Why?  Because: 1. It was “racy”, and 2. “Who breastfeeds her grown-up child??  What a bad mother!”  Well, I have a slew of problems with those reactions.

To counter the first, how many times are women these days arguing for their freedom of dress?  I see all these articles now about women believing they shouldn’t be sexualized because of how they dress, that they should be allowed to do how they please and not worry about a man’s reaction to their choices.  Yet there are men – and women – alike who look down on public breastfeeding.  They see it as nudity.  “Go do that in the bathroom,” they say.  (At my university, we have a special room in the bathrooms in one hall that is a “lactation station”.)  I think that’s ridiculous because, not only is it hypocritical, but breastfeeding is such a fundamental part of a child’s development as well as his relationship to his mother.  It’s natural.  Furthermore, if babies have to eat in the bathroom, then lunch should be served there for everyone.

To counter the second reaction, I think it’s quite ironic to label the mother on the cover as being a bad example.  In fact, she’s an excellent example.  Naturally, children are supposed to grow out of their ability to digest lactose.  This usually happens when they’re young children, not toddlers.  I, too, went through this phase.  Why does this happen?  Well, because we’re not supposed to consume dairy products beyond our development.  I mean, you want to talk about weird?  It’s weird that humans drink cow milk!  Think about it.  It’s for calves!!  What are we, five??  Not only does this excess dairy lead to health complications and not actually help with osteoporosis (it’s a marketing strategy, thanks government), it’s just not sustainable.  So while we have adults drinking cow milk, they’re also turning their noses up at children drinking human milk.  And why do Asians/Natives and some others phase so slowly out of lactose tolerance?  Because it’s natural to keep drinking mom’s milk so you can continue developing.  Yes, mothers can produce milk for many years after birth.

Why did this all come to my mind?  There are so many women these days using baby formula.  I think that’s horrible!!  If you’re going to be a mother, be a mother, damnit.  These aren’t machine babies.  You didn’t grow it in a petri dish.  It’s a HUMAN, made from HUMAN, meant to consume HUMAN.  I’m sure some day machine babies drinking machine milk will exist when the world has really lost all hope, but, for now, let’s be real, please.  NOTHING replaces human product just like NOTHING replaces human touch, love, and childrearing.  Pop culture needs to wake up and realize it is what’s messed up.

In addition to breastfeeding, studies have been done that mouth-to-mouth feeding is also a natural practice.  That probably freaks a lot of people out, but after watching a video on the Youtube channel Vsauce, I realized how fascinating “premastication” is.  Although a lot of people seemed up in arms when actress Alicia Silverstone posted a video of kiss-feeding her son (some folks said it was like she was “making out” with her son), I feel like any fan of the Paleo diet can understand peoples’ interest in reverting to more natural habits.  Did you know, they thinking kissing came from this method of weaning?

So before you go bashing breastfeeding in public, into childhood, or as a method period – and before you get grossed out by kiss-feeding – consider how much grosser the general American populace’s habits are.  I mean, do you even know what’s in the food you’re eating?  What are you seriously putting in your body?  You don’t know the chemicals, the genetic origins, the implications on your own body.  You could be literally eating your way to cancer if you don’t handle all your own food and instead rely on other people to supply it to grocery stores and in restaurants.  Why do we pretend so much that we can manipulate things we naturally put into our bodies?  Why do we think artificial replacements are going to be a cheaper solution to a just-as-healthy lifestyle?  What makes us think that baby formula can honestly replace breast-milk when a baby will use that formula to CREATE ITS BRAIN?  (Sure, there are some cases when formula might be necessary, but that’s rare.)

I just see so much hypocrisy in the mainstream culture regarding food and raising children.  I feel like it’s cool now to just skimp out on everything.  So tell me, why are people even parents these days?  Why?

Heaven is for Real.

hifr

I remember going to the store to look for one thing and always seeing this bright, yellow, silly-looking book jumping out at me: Heaven in for Real by Todd Burpo.  It was actually on one of my long, hidden lists of books I wanted to read.  I only wanted to read it because I knew of people who were wanting to read it as well, and I wanted to know what everyone was raving (both positively and negatively) about so much.  I finally grabbed one of several copies from the library and found myself done with the thin book in no time.

First, I’ll explain the premise in brief: a dad sits down to write this book with an author after a few years of hearing his small son tell stories about heaven.  Little Colton became incredibly ill and, according to the book, was a miracle of survival.  Over time, he starts revealing more and more about an out-of-body experience, telling bits about heaven that sound like scripture he wouldn’t have been able to know by 3 yet told in the way a child tells things he doesn’t quite understand but has seen (“rainbows” to explain the jewels all over the kingdom, “red markers” on Jesus’s hands which would be his wounds, etc.).

When I first starting reading this book, all I did was scoff at it.  It seemed so stupid to me.  The book was mostly about the dad and his family’s financial struggles and connection with his church.  Every time Colton revealed something he had seen, I just dismissed them with things like “well it took him 2 years to say it” or “his dad is a preacher, he could have heard that from anywhere” or “maybe he just wants attention” or “maybe this dad is a total phony” or “his dad prompted him to answer the correct way” or “how convenient, that he didn’t write down the names of the kids Colton had met in heaven”………..

I’ll admit, I still have my doubts.  But there was one point during the book when some switch just flipped inside of me.  Things started to feel a little weird to me when Colton became very strongly expressive about Jesus and how Jesus just loves everyone.  I kind felt this melting feeling and began to realize I have never doubted Jesus’s existence or that he made sacrifices for what he believed in, I only doubted who is actually is/was.  To hear that someone so tied to worldly martyrdom would still be worshipping the innocence of children (which I value highly, too), it made me feel even better about standing up for goodness.  In that moment, I decided I really love Jesus, whether he is the son of a god or if he’s just a guy.  He is, if nothing else, a perfect role model, isn’t he?  With Colton’s description, I formed a very comforting image of Jesus in my head.

Then Colton starts talking about his dad’s grandpa.  I was a little dumbfounded when Colton seemed to legitimately recall his long-dead ancestor and even more impressed when Colton only recognized pictures of the man when he was in his prime.  He claims that, in Heaven, “no one is old and no one wears glasses” which is a cute kiddie way of saying we are in the best of health.  Yet I was still bouncing it back and forth, the idea that Colton could have overheard his dad talking, that he could have somehow imagined everything,… except for the visual recognition part, if that really happened as it was told.

But it gets weirder.  Colton’s mother had had a miscarriage, yet Colton hadn’t been told.  Sure, he could have overheard about “losing the baby” or something.  But for him to come out and say he met his sister in heaven that he didn’t know he had, and to describe him as looking like his mother unlike the other children who are like their father – those things just seemed to real to me.  I find it hard to believe that a young child could process those kinds of concepts unless he had some incredible dream that streamed those thoughts together with no assistance other than his own intelligence.

Yet the moment that I suddenly found doubt in everything I had come to believe came when Colton began identifying problems with paintings of Jesus.  The day then came when Colton was shown one image, one that I have since looked up and which looks exactly like I had pictured in my mind what Jesus is like since Colton’s description… Colton, for the first time in years, found nothing wrong with the painting and said that it was “right”.  Little did he supposedly know that the painting was made by young Akiane who claims to have had a similar experience, seeing visions of heaven.  I was like, what?

(Enter: Mixed feelings.  Feelings that there can’t not be heaven mixed with feelings that maybe this is all a scam.  But how can such a young girl paint so well?  Were her parents really atheists?  So much confusion…)

Regardless of what all of this really means to me, the book made something very clear to me: You can love Jesus and be religious and be “Christian” without being Christian at all.  That’s not saying that there isn’t one singular answer about the existence of a god and that you shouldn’t accept a god that controls your life and is the reason why life exists, it’s more like I began to see the family-ness of religion.  Too often it gets a bad rap and people who aren’t religious like to pin evilness to those who are because those people stand up for their beliefs.  Reading this book made me realize that religion is not meant to shut people out or hurt them, it’s more like fulfilling a duty to a god and to each other.  It’s using “community” as a vehicle for discovery, self-improvement, reflection – with or without religion being the inspiration.

I suddenly realized that all of those people who ever tried to help me follow my grandma’s footsteps or who feared for a non-Christian in my family or who wanted to “spread the word” were really, the whole time, doing nothing but trying to help.  I’ve seen enough non-Christians react to this help to know that they see it as sabotage, unaccepting, backwards, closed-minded…but, in reality, I think there is some hypocrisy in that interpretation.  This book made me realize that people who whole-heartedly believe in something feel like that they have the key to all the doors you need to open and here they are trying to hand you those keys.  It’s like they know something already that you don’t know but they’re helping lead you to it.  It’s not such an evil thing after all, if done kindly.

So, although I’m still not 100% sure where I stand with the book, I did order a used copy of it to keep as a reminder of how it made me think – and I want now to spend a moment on the mixed reviews I have read regarding Heaven is for Real.  These reviews are seriously split down the middle, between adamant Christians celebrating how god has touched the family and the son and aggressive atheists denouncing Todd Burpo and calling the whole thing a scam.  Well, isn’t it only pleasing when we hear only what we choose to hear?

To the Christians in love with the book, I wonder if they ever raise any doubts?  To the atheists who detest it, do they seriously read it with nothing but cold-hearted conviction?  It would be like a Christian reading an atheist book, insulting its ignorance while the atheists revels in its accuracy.  That’s why I prefer to sift through everything and, regardless of spiritual context, take away some sort of meaning that I can use to better myself.

For all of the people who complained about the Burpo family being like the Flanders family in the Simpsons, well how is that such a bad thing?  I don’t think it is at all.  A little funny and strange that people could be so happy all the time, but I wish the world was full of more Flanders.  There were also complaints about the author being the same author as Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue and how it was like Palin, too bubbly and sugar-coating or ignoring the bad stuff.  Again, what is so wrong with that?  (Although, I have to say I disagree with Burpo when he says, on page 84, that you might as well tell God what you’re thinking since he already knows what you’re thinking [when you’re angry, for example].  Yes, but what about filtering it to show him your control and respect?  That passage stuck out oddly to me…)

Regardless, I think the point of the book is something I can really agree with: that a child is innocent and pure due to “lack of guile” (74).  That’s why Colton’s Jesus loves the children, why Colton is so idolized in the story for his unfiltered thoughts, why this telling of heaven is so powerful – because it is meant to be pure visions retold by a guileless human.  So, if nothing else, that and my new appreciation for the concern of others is what I will take away from this book – and perhaps much more.

Brick by Boring Brick.

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The familiar lyrics echo through my mind as I proceed through monotonous, daily chores at work, on the commute, while cleaning,…:

Keep your feet on the ground
While your head’s in the clouds

I mean, how real is that?  I’d always been a dreamer.  I was always lost in books, so out of it that sometimes people would talk for minutes before they realized I was engrossed in the pages of a Brain Jacques or Michael Shaara creation.  I was the girl who was never caught flirting with the boys on the playground; instead, I would escape the feelings of inferiority by climbing high into a spruce in my plaid skirt at recess, lying back on a branch against the trunk, and seeing if I could read a whole chapter before the bell rang.  Up here, no one could hurt me.  And in the worlds I read about, I could do anything.

But it was always important to remember, when I put the book down, that no book would save me from test scores or barn chores.  I still found a way to live in both worlds.  When my life got tough and I couldn’t sleep, I was the misbehaved child whose only misbehavior was when she sneaked out of bed at 2am, curled up under her desk, and read an entire novel by nightlight before her alarm went off the next morning.  I was determined to keep my feet on the ground and still have my heads in the clouds.

And when my world became more tragic, I did build it up with magic in my mind.  My favorite part of the day was the part when I would lay down at night with my CD player in and play out the same routine in my mind to the tracks.  In other words, I made my own music videos that enabled me to absorb the lyrics and also imagine myself doing anything I wanted.

Make sure to build your heart brick by boring brick
Or the wolf’s gonna blow it down

Paramore’s Brick by Boring Brick is just such a hit-homer.  Not only does it include these ideas and these words, but it holds a much deeper meaning.  It wasn’t until I started to really read the lyrics about princes, betrayal, loneliness, losing contact with the real world,…she’s ripping wings off of butterflies…and noting the butterfly on the cover of the Brand New Eyes album did it become clear: This song is in a way running parallels between our means of escaping the hard times as well as the psychological assault scientists have, in past times, placed on children called Monarch Programming where they build up their thoughts in imaginary lands of castles and mirrors…and so let’s bury the castle.  Don’t believe me?  Read about it here.

(After just posting about The Butterfly Circus, and now this, I think it’s funny how everything comes full-circle.  My Potawatomi Indian name is, after all, Mem’iki – or butterfly.  My grandma gave it to me not just because she once told me it’s her favorite being but because I’m her little butterfly who flits around the world incessantly.)

But, in conclusion, I will add my favorite part of Brick by Boring Brick, a section of the bridge that makes me think there is really something powerful behind what this is saying:

If it’s not real, you can’t hold it in your hand
You can’t feel it with your heart
And I won’t believe it
But if it’s true, you can see it with your eyes
Oh, even in the dark
And that’s where I want to be

Take from it what you will: psychology, religion, love,…I feel like these lyrics touch on both the physical and spiritual essence that embodies the things we cling to and why.  Look up the song.  You might really enjoy it, too.