Facebook is the New Valium

I remember it well.  In the kitchen cabinet above the radio lived our families’ orange prescription medicine bottles.  Valium being one of them.  My Mom’s Valium.  Even as a young girl, I knew that it was a difficult day if my Mom took a Valium.  It wasn’t a regular thing, thank goodness, but I just knew:  Mom’s wit’s end = little pill.

I grew up in the 70s.  My formative years were full of playing outside, Brady Bunch reruns, pet rocks, disco, and this awareness that some moms took pills to get through their days.  It was never something I discussed with my Mom.  Probably because when she died I had not yet become a mother myself.  One of my greatest regrets in life is that I never communicated with my Mom, as a mom, about being a mom.  I so wish we had known each other as moms.

This was also the era of Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls.  I definitely remember that movie being exotic and taboo in 1970s middle America.  The moms joked about it.  I could hear their laughter waft up the stairs during their monthly “club” nights, which were hosted in our home twice a year.  Those were the best nights.  There was something so awesome about hearing my Mom and all the neighbor ladies laugh uproariously til the wee hours of the morning.  Like, really, really loudly.  LOUD.  Just what was so funny?, I used to wonder.  And the next day would bring leftover nuts and cheese balls and treats and French Silk pie from Bakers’ Square when it was still called Poppin’ Fresh Pies.

Poppin’ Fresh Pies was hip hop before hip hop even existed, yo.

Last Thanksgiving I made what I thought was an astute observation at the holiday dinner table when I said, “Facebook is our generation’s Valium.” Silence.  Dead silence.  I still think it’s true.  A quick wiki search informs us that Valium is the brand name of Diazepam, a benzodiazepine.  It was launched in 1963 and was wildly successful.  “Benzos” as they came to be called, replaced the much more sedating, but still wildly prescribed group known as barbiturates.

NOTE:  As awesome as this gal is, she is not my Mom.  And a chicken dinner will go out to anyone who can tell me what is happening on this gal’s head!

Like it or not, a lot of moms in the 1970s and 1980s got through their days with a little help from their friend Valium.  As a mom myself now, I totally get it.  I mean, I am the mom of one (less Donna) and there are days that the little bugger frustrates me no end.  Imagining my boy and three other little ones running around with little or no help from Dad?  BAH!  I would totally lose it.

Enter Facebook.  Cue the angels singing.  I know not everyone is on Facebook.  And I know everyone doesn’t use it to the extent I use it, but in the social media circles I frequent, Facebook is totally and completely the new Valium.  Without the pesky chemicals or necessary prescription.

Think about it.  Why is Facebook so pervasive in our lives?  Why do thousands upon thousands of Facebook pages exist devoted to motherhood and parenting?  Because we need it and it serves a real purpose.  We need to be connected.  Here are just a few that demonstrate the point that mothering can make you feel a wee bit off balance:

We need an outlet to vent about the little ones who try our last nerves.  And while these pages can be vastly different from one another, we need a place to go when our kids stomp and tantrum and melt down and get under our skins in an unhealthy kind of way.  We need a place to fret about the poop that landed in our bangs, but we didn’t notice for three hours.  We need a place to laugh at ourselves when we drive our kids to school in pajamas with a towel on our heads.  We need a place to document the epic meltdown that just occurred in the Target that left us reeling and this close to losing our shit after watching our kids lose theirs.  Or even just a place to connect when we’re doing our best and it doesn’t feel quite good enough.  Moral support from others deep in the trenches.

Moms need to be connected.  Facebook is our drug of choice, the vehicle that brings us all together.  The ultimate koffee klatch, if you will.  But just like Valium, it has drawbacks.  We run the risk of being more communicative with the screen than our kids.  Dependence is a very real possibility.  I know if I take a few hours away, folks are looking for me, worried about me.  In turn, I start to get a little fidgety.  What’s happening, I wonder?  Oh!  I need to share this!, starts to feel really important.

Yeah, there are definite drawbacks.  And truth be told, I am way more dependent on Facebook than I ever believe my Mom was on Valium.  Her once a month life line on an epic-ly bad day is my daily necessity.  Like keyboard caffeine.

“Hi, my name is Mary Tyler Mom and I am addicted to Facebook.”  “HI, MARY TYLER MOM,” is what 11,947 say in unison every morning as I power up the iPad and check Facebook before the weather, news, or anything else of import.  Yeah, Facebook is definitely the new Valium.  At least it’s my Valium.

And as much as I love the Facebook, I love my blog ever better.  Get notified of every posting with a subscription.  Here!  Now!  Free!  

Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

Mommy Wars: You Win, We All Lose

Yesterday I posted an e-card that another Facebook page had created.  I was surprised by the vitriol it generated, but wasn’t familiar with the page, and assumed it was the crowd that hung out over in that neck of the Facebook woods.  I shared it on my own page with the caption, “I’ve seen this on a few walls today. It generates a lot of whining about who has it worse — SAHMs or working moms. Sheesh. Can’t we all just get along?”  I am grateful for the community of readers that follows Mary Tyler Mom on Facebook.  The 90+ comments on my thread were, for the most part, positive or neutral.  That, my friends, is like an oasis on the Internet, the Holy Grail of social media.

Working Mom ecard

(Graphic courtesy of Mommy Needs a Beer)

The other pages were very different from the Fairy Forest that I work hard to cultivate over at Mary Tyler Mom (think about an internet version of Snow White with the forest animals trailing after her, “tweeting” birds flying above, blue skies and flowering trees.  Yeah, that is exactly what my Facebook page is like.).

There was hate and jealousy and meanness and ugly, ugly comments on many of those other pages.  Sigh.  The Mommy Wars are boring, yes, but they do exist and they are real.  Would that it were not so, but, alas, it is.

The thing that gets to me is that at the crux of the Mommy Wars are two factions of women trying their very best to win at the competition of having it the hardest.  Seriously?  I mean, who wants to have it the hardest?  I don’t.  No siree, Bob, not me.  I want to win the competition where I have it the easiest.  Wouldn’t that be sweet?

Ugh.  I find it so disheartening, discouraging.  I was raised in the 1970s.  My idols were all feminists — Gloria Steinem, Marlo Thomas, Jane Bryne.  My favorite Charlie’s Angel was Kate Jackson.  Jiminy Crickets, I named my blog after a 1970s feminist icon — Mary Tyler Moore.  She was my ideal woman — strong, smart, funny, sexy, single.  She was gonna make it after all, you know?  My point is that feminism is about choice.  Choice, people.

In this new millenium, some of us are lucky enough to have choice; it is a luxury these days.  When we exercise that choice, though, those of us who have it, we are excoriated no matter what we choose.  SAHMs are lazy and boring.  Working moms get off easy and don’t have to deal with the house or family.  Poor WAHMs just get lost in the shuffle.

Give me a freaking break.  Mothering is mothering.  It is a full time gig.  You don’t stop being a mother in the hours you work outside the home.  And you definitely are working inside the home if you are a SAHM.  Why the need to identify ourselves as having it worse than someone else?  You know who my favorite moms are?  The ones who are too busy to care what the other moms are doing; they are satisfied with their life and support the other moms around them.

Can you imagine if each of us mothers saw our kids engage in the animus that we engage in on a regular basis in social media?  The pelting with words is horrible.  We are so divisive.  I breast feed my three year old.  You freak!  I opt for disposable diapers.  Why do you hate Mother Earth?!  My car seat got left at the mechanics and I needed to get to the airport, so my son had to ride with only a seat belt for a few miles.  You are a terrible human being and I hope your son dies so you learn your lesson!

Honestly, as a mom, would any of us condone this behavior in our homes?  Not a chance.  Somehow, we have made the opposite of what we teach our children acceptable when it occurs on a keyboard.

Shame on us.


For those of us who require the demeaning of another to feel better about ourselves, this trophy is for you.  It is hereby decreed the YOU WIN trophy.  YOU WIN at having it the hardest.  YOU WIN at making others feel less than because of choices they make that have nothing to do with you.  YOU WIN at tearing down your sisters.  Hooray!

You lose at life, but who cares what I have to say?  I’m probably just jealous of you anyway.

Hey!  If you liked this, vote for me in the Circle of Moms 25 Best Family Blogs contest.  It takes two seconds and I will give you your very own trophy!  Voting open through 11.29.12.

Leap Year, Sex After Kids and Other Rare Phenomenon

Today is a phenomenon of time and space — Leap Year.  A day is conjured out of thin air and all agree to acknowledge it and accept that, sure, okay, today can happen.  We’ll agree to say it is February 29 instead of March 1.  Everybody good with that?  Okay!

This got me thinking about the idea of finding time and what happens with that time, passing time and where it goes.  And on that note, this whole process of accepting and acknowledging things that simply don’t make sense.  Deep thoughts for a tired, working mom, I know. 

Over on the Mary Tyler Mom facebook page, I decreed it WILD CARD WEDNESDAY.  That is blogger code for, “Damn.  I need another post to fulfill my contract and I am plum out of clever things to say.”  As always, my pals at facebook do not disappoint.  The offer was simple:  make a suggestion about what I should write and I will be committed to the most popular suggestion, with the stipulation that I can only use the lunch hour to write it.  Well, a bunch of moms got on the sex after kids bandwagon (more accurately, the lack of sex after kids bandwagon), but a strong second was this timely topic of Leap Year. 


Leap Year and sex after kids.  Yes.  There’s something to that.  Both are rare, generally anti-climactic, and create a lot of cliche buzz.  YES!  So that’s the cheap shot, the easy score (pun intended), if you will.  Ha ha!  Sex after kids is as scarce as leftover beer at a frathouse party.  Another one is that my Mary Tyler Mom facebook page sees tons more action than Mary Tyler Dad (insert rim shot here).

More interesting, I think, is why that happens.  Why Leap Year?  Who decided that was the way our calendar would work?  And why does sex become more of a chore, an obligation, a holiday event after the little ones arrive?  The truth is that I don’t know.  I don’t know how or why Leap Year exists and how or why we all agree to create an extra day only to poke fun at it.  I also don’t know how or why sex after kids loses its luster.  Or how and why many couples with children (given my extremely unscientific facebook thread) stop having sex after kids.  Well, not stop having sex, but start having less frequent sex. 

Perhaps the common denominator is this human capacity to simply accept the things we do not understand or that do not make sense to us.  There is a shrug of the shoulders and a sort of disinterested, “Okay.”  I know I’m stretching here, and there is my aforementioned fatigue, but I think there is something to this theory of mine.  Time passes, dictums emerge (you see what I did there?) and before you know it we agree to add an extra day to our year and we agree to remember sex rather than engage in sex. 

We’re tired.  We’re stressed.  Our time is valuable and our curiosity is waning.  Just like our husband’s dictums.