Baptism to the Blogosphere Thanks to My “Viral” 70s Childhood. DUNK!



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. 

24 comments:

Bridgitte Jones (no you did not read my diary) said...

You go girl!!! Most people who didn't get your article aren't ever going to understand - "Don't argue with idiots, they drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience", so I'm glad you let it roll off your back. I read the 70s childhood and being a 1970 baby I was with ya 100%. And I raised my kids by a lot of those standards for summers (Go Play Outside! and watching Nick pretty much as long as they wanted) and mine are now grown and they turned out great! I'm back to follow your blog because I loved your style on that post, and I wish you all the best! Keep on keepin us laughing, God knows we need it! :)

JustineC said...

You tell 'em honey! Laughter is the best medicine, and your writing always makes me smile if not laugh out loud so hard my kids come running wondering what happened! I am really impressed by your latest in writing adventures! Going to be standing in line for your first book!

A Running Stroller Co said...
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Rachelle said...

OK.... This was even better than the original blog! Frigging love the bit about the chick w Barbie sunglasses! You are now my idol...i thought I could spin a phrase...but dang! We are the same age btw. We have a mutual friend that you went to college with apparently... which is how I found your blog. Keep it up when you feel the urge! You are a good mom, too!

Your Proud Mother said...

This get better and better, amazed at how some didn't get your humor, you make all of us look forward to your next post... Never stop and ignore the others

Tammy Fenton said...

I loved your article too and since I know you personally, all those negative Nellie's can take a chill pill. You have 4 wonderful boys so you have done something right! Keep writing so you can make others laugh and you can keep your sanity. So proud of you!

Chris Dean said...

I don't usually leave comments, because I'm socially awkward and, "I loved this!" just seems kinda lame. (Because someone else has usually already said it first.) But this? Was BEYOND awesome!
I've never had a post go remotely viral, but reading comments on those who have? You have managed to sum up in this kick-ass post exactly what I'd love to say to these keyboard cowboys. (Only with a LOT less swearing.)
I am so friggin' happy for your success and have no doubt that you'll keep on doin' what you do and keep those of us who have a bonefied sense of humor laughing!

Donna Blommel said...

You tell them sister(in-law). I loved it and like Tammy said, keep it up. You do an awesome job.

Suzanne Elliott said...

Tears from both ends and a tired jaw from laughing. You are one AWESOME woman and I'll happily hold your coat any day you wanna kick some arse.

Julie Workman said...

Seriously, can we be besties? I have 3 boys, and I totally get it. I mean, I'm not a bad-ass-canning-mo-fo, mostly because my boys inhale fresh fruit like a plague of locust.

My boys spend the majority of their summer outside, riding bikes and scooters, drinking out of hoses or stabbing pouch drinks, scamming snacks from every parent in the 'hood. They don't have cell phones, and must ring doorbells and have polite conversation with adults to get to their friends. We have library cards and we know how to use them - Kindle Schmindle! $1 theater? Hells yeah!
Oh, and I think KFC is a great idea for dinner tonight!

Tammy C said...

I so wish we still lived in the same hood Melissa! I'd send my 12 year old daughter to learn canning from you and send my little boy out to play with your guys! Love reading your real take on life. Keep it up to keep us all sane!

April Mevissen said...

You just may be my new favorite person! :)

Anonymous said...

THIS. So much THIS!

Will you please keep blogging? Like frequently? Please?!'!!!

Beth M. said...

I also think this may be even be better than the original post! This was the perfect thing to read with my coffee this morning waiting for my kids to wake up before I am forced to play legos for the 10th straight day since my son ruptured his ear drum and has decided he is terrified of swimming, swim team, and the pool in general-- of which my entire summer was based.

Love this! Thank you! -Beth

Karen said...

The youngest of my 4 just turned 18 and leaves for college in August. I know that some of your readers are clinging to hope, hope that they can relax a little and not ruin their precious ones. Well, I can testify that they won't. My 4 survived!! And they thrive. You keep doing what you do... haters gonna hate. They'll come crawling back when they are 4 deep... or maybe not...it doesn't matter.

Tammy Soong said...

Okay, now I'm a little scared because I sorta didn't see any particular problems with that being an ACTUAL guide to a reasonably good summer...(slinks away, goes to buy Barbie sunglasses in attempt to convince others she didn't think that...).

Tammy Soong said...
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Debbie B. said...

LOVE!!!! AMEN once again sister! Love the background check on the barbie sunglass wearing mother of one - HILARIOUS!!! If she only knew!!!

Grama-nator said...

Way to go Melissa! Some of my best memories are summers in the 50’s/60’s. We had the run of the town, barefoot, swimming in whatever hole of water we could find, building tree houses, riding bikes and horses. We caught night crawlers for fishing and firefly’s to keep in a jar in our bedrooms when we finally went to bed. I raised my kids in the 70’s/80’s the same way and now my Grandkids are spending their summer days at “Camp Grandma”. My summer rules are: No electronics. You are not allowed to say the “B” word. (Bored!). Go outside and play, run, explore, be kids! And I’m right out there with them! (I have a small confession. My 11 yo. Granddaughter did break her leg this week riding her bike AT MY HOUSE! However, she’s already making it a “not so bummer summer”, full leg cast for the next 4 weeks and all. That’s my girl!!)
Keep up the Great work!!

Connie Lissner said...

Well said! I LOVED your post about a 70s summer - it totally took me back. I shared it on Facebook, emailed it to my friends who shared my 70s summer with me and read it to my kids. I don't know why some people are so negative. I have not had a post go viral and yet I have had some really negative comments on some of my posts that made me stop writing for a few days. So glad you didn't stop writing.

Tenisha Jonece said...

So yeah, I hated your article. No, I'm just playing. I thoroughly enjoyed it. My mother emailed it to me when I was asking her how to give my son an authentic summer experience. She suggested your post. I laughed and shrugged my shoulders in agreement. My mother exposed me, an 80's baby, to a 70's summer. I believe I've grown up nicely, water hose water and all. Thanks for posting it. Thanks for taking the jerky comments on the chin keeping it moving.

Now, as for the subject of grammar...I am an English major... and I can't spell worth a d@#*. I also feel like I put too many comments in my sentences. Too many is better than none, right? My English degree only makes me a professional in one area... reading. I'm a great reader. LOL! I'm great at understanding content and analyzing it. That's it. But, when I do feel the need to publish an error free post, I shoot my work over to my editor for a fresh pair of eyes. My editors name is grammarly.com It's super easy to use if you need to publish something that you'll be getting paid for (every blogger's dream).

Again, I enjoyed your post, and I look forward to reading more from you.

Tenisha Jonece
TenishaJonece.com

Tara said...

My God, I truly think I found another ME. We are exactly alike. Laughed out loud at this post.

the_happy_hausfrau said...

Grrrrl!! Never read the comments. Especially on HuffPost. ESPECIALLY when you have a post go viral! I was told to go fuck myself, had someone say "I hope you die" and also had someone write an open letter to me on Tumblr where they told me to not only fuck myself, but to do it in my ear.

I loved your post, as did 99% of the other people who read it. Good job :)

Jenny (mom to four kids but only three boys) (oh the things I could tell you but will keep this comment short and sweet)

Susan K said...

Love it, Love it, Love it! So glad I've found you. You make me feel normal. Mother of three girls and one boy. 15,12,9 2. The boy was last - a whole new world.lol I look forward to your future posts.