I always knew viral was a bad word. You see, I have 4 sons, so when I see the ‘v’ word I panic. (No, not vagina. I am still confidently in denial they have no clue what that is, at least I hope they don’t. But if they do, boys STAY AWAY from it. FAR AWAY. Until you are like 50.) The ‘v’ word I am talking about is virus. And when one kid gets a virus, I cringe. It is only a matter of time, a few short hours maybe, until it spreads to the next child, then the next, and then the next. Then I get to enjoy a lovely afternoon shagging vomit chunks flying down from the air. I won’t catch it. Moms NEVER catch it. Lucky me!? Come on people, when was the last time Mom got to actually BE sick? Be sick, like stay horizontal, TV remote in hand, ALONE kind of sick. (BTW, I am taking virus donations today. Feel free to come spit in my mouth so I can catch a ‘break.’) Inevitably the husband will catch it too, but I will save my thoughts on dealing with a sick husband for another blog post. It will require me to hit the thesaurus first to collect as many synonyms for pathetic as I can find. Anyway, viral is an adjective, ‘of or being related to a virus.’ I made sure to look this up, in a real, honest to goodness dictionary. Funny, I kinda know how to look up things when I have to. I did this to ensure that when my next encounter with the internet grammar nazis takes place, I can…..well, more on that later too. Anyway, and appropriately enough, the origin of the word virus is Latin, and means venom. Of course it does. VENOM. I am overjoyed to report that a few paragraphs I wrote one day have gone venom. And where there is venom, there are snakes, obviously. Duh! If it was a snake, it would have bit me. And it sorta did.
In the last week, I have taken a ride on a roller coaster I never waited in line for. Innocently enough, a little story I wrote about my 70s childhood chugged along slowly and happily, until it rolled steam strong into the bowels of the internet blogosphere. One day, my Facebook friends are getting a chuckle out of it, the next, I am reading an email from Huffington Post asking me if they can publish it. At first, I cannot mentally process the email. It includes instructions on how to enable my new HuffPo blogger account, how to upload my piece, how to upload posts in the future, add my bio, a headshot…..wait a sec, a bio and headshot? Bio? I have 4 sons. I wash a lot of clothes. I cook. The end. Headshot? I haven't had a professional picture taken of me since my wedding 17 years ago. Who the hell has a professional headshot lying around? I call a dear friend. “You can do this!” she says. So I do. I yank up my big girl panties, follow the directions, and a few hours later, there it is. My little story is on the Huffington Post. And I need to make dinner. For 5 minutes I soak in my one hit wonder. And then it happened again, and again, when more sites republished it. Holy effing shit. Did. That. Just. Happen?
I started reading comments to the posts. I should have known better. 98% were great, supportive, and included many “Yes! I had this childhood!” and “I am doing this with my kids this summer!” along with several who were “Peeing my pants!” And then the trolls came crawling out of their keyboards. I have read enough internet articles, stories, forums, and blogs, to be acutely aware that idiots exist, yet I didn’t. Naivety won for a moment. Just a moment. Then I wised up.
And now I have some of my own feedback to all of you negative Nellies;
To the grammar nazi who emailed me about all the errors in my writing, my dear, I hear ya loud and clear. Bad writing pisses me off too. But here’s the thing; I wrote this in about 10 minutes. I do not have a copy editor or a proof reader. I never intended this to be seen by a million people. And quite honestly, until someone starts paying me to write shit, I am gonna continue to just, well, wing it. I look forward to hearing from you again. And dear God, how do you find the time to go all English teacher evil on people? Please go take a nap.
To the poison control hotline apprentices gravely concerned that hose drinking will in fact, most certainly KILL my children, and a few sips from the ‘ol green rubber tube is akin to ingesting lead paint chips for years, now hear this…Planet Earth Misses You. Please come back down to it. And for the record, yes, I have had to use poison control before, when my 3 year old swallowed a wooden golf tee. Their exact words, “No worries Mrs. Fenton. It will all come out. You’d be amazed at what the human digestive system can take. Kids are quite resilient.” Pretty sure the 5 seconds of hose drinking they endured while I snapped their picture will not cause permanent damage of the stomach lining. Just a hunch.
To the organic food police (who I am sure were throwing up in their mouth a little when I said I was going to let my kids eat chicken out of a bucket) I am so very grateful you informed me all about the dangers of nitrates, real sugar, fake sugar, generic sugar, couture sugar, refined grains, whole grains, half grains, all grains, inhumanely raised chickens, cheese powder, fake cheese, real cheese, aged cheese, processed snacks, styrofoam potatoes, GMOs, LMAOs, HMOs, and on and on and on. Can you just STOP for a sec and do me a little favor? Walk over to your pantry. Pull out your jar of tomato sauce and your jar of jam. Just gonna take a wild guess here and assume you didn’t can it yourself. Because bitch, in my pantry, I did. By myself. With like tomatoes and blackberries I went and foraged at a u-pick, cooked, ladled into jars, then processed in a water bath canner, like freakin’ Mrs. Ingalls. So please shut the hell up. But hey, if you are interested in learning more about home preserving, do give me a call. I am a real hoot in the kitchen and can make a killer peach butter. One more thing, I am pretty sure a few bad meals here and there this summer will not put my kids in the gastronomy wing of the local children’s hospital.
Finally, and my personal favorite, to the woman who called me a “lazy mother,” and “didn’t really like this article AT ALL” please go get help. Real help. Start with being able to comprehend tongue in cheek writing, then move on to grasping humor. This was not an instruction manual for summer parenting. Got that? Had I read a comment calling me a “lazy mother” 15 years ago, when I was bone tired, teary eyed, fresh into motherhood, baby attached to me 18 hours a day, and feeling zero confidence in every mom decision I made, this kind of comment would have hurt me to the core, truly crushing my spirit. But something great happens after 4 kids, and after age 40. It’s called knowing who the hell you are. I know who I am, and I know what type of mother I am. I am a great mom. Know how I know that? My KIDS read my article and laughed. They got it. Sadly, you didn’t. Oh, and by the way, I did a little Google search on you. No, not your typical just quickly type your name in the search bar, but the ‘I am also a badass librarian Kung Fu Google master’ type of search. Oh my dear, sweet, young, doe-eyed lady with ONE child, who enjoys taking selfies in the car wearing Barbie sunglasses, I know what your current mortgage rate is. And you really need to prune that bush in the backyard and water that plant by the door. And it’s time to donate that old denim jacket, just sayin’. Hey, give me a call when you are 4 kids deep hunny. I have a feeling we will have a lot to talk about.
Thankfully, for every nasty comment, there were 50 good ones. For every judgmental email, there were 25 supportive ones. I personally responded to each supportive email, as I felt if people took the time to send me one, they deserve a kind reply. And no, I have no idea where you can find Cheez Balls in the blue can, but I think Planter’s needs to get on that ASAP. Seems to be a real hankering for those suckers among people in their early 40s.
I have since stopped reading comments, and have vowed to get a little more Teflon on my skin. I think I know who ‘my people’ are, and what they like to read. From what I can tell, they are tired moms who need a laugh, and perhaps a little permission to chill the hell out. They need to know it’s ok to let go of the helicopter parenting throttle. Go ahead and put the kiddos on autopilot for a while. They will land just fine. I promise.
As for me, I will keep writing when the mood hits. And I will try to keep my genuine voice, writing for those who ‘get it,’ and ignoring those who don’t.
Gotta run. The Kentucky Fried Chicken drive thru window wants my order.