International Childfree Day

There is such a thing. It’s today. August 1st.

It could also be known as I’ll Never Be a Grandmother Day.

Both my kids have decided not to spawn. It took some getting used to.

At first, all I could think of was I was a bad mother. I readily admit I had many, many less than stellar mom moments. They all flashed before my eyes whenever someone complimented my husband and me on one or both of our amazing children.

One of the first things Kid #1 did when they achieved independence was to procure a therapist. Not that I blame them. I completely understand. Even though I like to think not all of their issues were about me. Hopefully, their therapist isn’t a Freudian. I mean, we have a great relationship today. (Uh, call your mother.)

There are so many experiences they’ll never have being childfree:

Cold, lovingly prepared breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. (true story)

Being told “You’re the best mommy I ever had,” at the end of a long hard day. (true story)

Hearing them tell the woman at the vision center that “Mommy broke her glasses when she threw them when she got mad. (true story)

Bursting with pride when they perform in front of a group. (true story)

Hearing at 9 PM on a school night, “Mom, I need poster board for a school project that’s due tomorrow.” (true story)

When their hard work pays off with improved grades or buying their own car. (true story)

Spending an entire weekend in cold rain or blistering sun at a sports tournament. (true story)

Suffering with them when their team doesn’t win a game all season. (true story)

Denying yourself coffee and alcohol for the entire duration of pregnancy and breastfeeding. (true story)

Just seeing your child for the first time. (true story)

Seeing them smile for the first time, or their first steps. (true story)

Of course, there are the really bad moments, the highly emotional fights where I wished I would have handled my side better, maybe trouble with the law, bad breakups, no boy/girlfriend, car accidents, scars, words that can’t be taken back. Everyone can do without those. But we have them and we find a way to do.

I was surprised when I found myself going through a mourning, of sorts, when I realized I would never be a grandmother. All my friends who are grandparents swear it’s the best thing ever, even better than being a parent. I’ll never know.

I was also surprised when I started getting sick of seeing everybody’s grandkids on Facebook. Fine. Your grandkid is the sweetest, smartest, cutest kid in the universe. To you. Until the next one comes along. And you’re lucky they’ll never face competition from mine!

And who do I crochet things for when I watch TV? I live in the desert so I don’t need hats and scarves and afghans. How many coats do my grandpups need? I guess I can inundate my childfree offspring and their significant others with the ill-fitting sweaters and bedspreads and throws and more dog coats until my fingers gnarl from arthritis.

But at the same time, I’m not overly optimistic about the state of the world. If the human race has some kind of dystopian future ahead of us as writers predict (as they did many things that exist in the present) I wouldn’t want loved ones to suffer through it. I mean, look at who our president is.

I’m glad our kids are confident to make choices their parents may not like. We have accepted that. I’ve had to learn not to throw innuendos or opinions on the topic into our conversations.

So, all you purposely childfree people, enjoy yourselves. Remember who gave up second honeymoons while you’re on your second or third or fourth. Remember who ate the burned toast so you could have the pretty toast and cooked your food after a day at work while you were running around the neighborhood with your friends. Remember who taught you how to do laundry while you’re buying “Dry Clean Only” with the money you could be spending on my non-existent grandchildren.

(Maybe I’m a touch bitter. Maybe that’s a little consolation.)

(I was going to find some graphics to post, but  as someone who actually sacrificed a few things for her kids because she loved them, I started to get pissed off looking at them so I’ll just stop here.)

 

 

 

 

 

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You Found A Picture of My Child Where?

smudged for blog 2While I’m on the topic of parenting, what are your thoughts about posting pictures of your kids on places like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc.? This wasn’t an issue when my kids were small. The internet was a baby itself that most people had no idea that such a thing even existed. The most instant photography we had were Polaroid cameras which developed special film in the camera and spit out crappy pictures. Everything required film and sending it off for developing and if you wanted far away people to see the pictures, you had to have prints made and snail mail them. (I still have rolls of undeveloped film from when my kids were younger.)

Now, we snap a photo with our phone and tap the screen a few times and everybody you want to see can see it. Depending on the privacy settings on your social media, maybe many more than you imagine can see it.

In researching this, my main concern was that pedophiles can easily access photos, download, and share and sell them with other like-minded creeps. And this is true. Some investigators believe this doesn’t happen that often. Other have seen that even innocent looking family photos can attract unsavory attention. There are websites where predators interested in exploiting children can place orders for the type of photos they are looking for, specifying age, gender, race, etc. Others of the ilk send/sell what they have. Some will even go out and take pictures at playgrounds, etc.

There are also “less” frightening incidences of people digitally kidnapping children by reposting photos of kids and claiming them as their own, creating a fantasy life with other people’s children and posting on Facebook, etc. as if it is real. There are also cases of photos of children stolen from posts that appear in ads without the permission of parents.

smudged pic for blogPersonally, I understand the desire to share photos with family and friends. My husband and I have mostly lived in other states than our siblings and parents and have missed out on getting to know our nieces and nephews as they grew up. And now they are having kids. The best way to stay in touch is by Facebook. I love seeing the newest members of our families, and my friends grandkids and the kids of my kids’ friends I drove around when they were younger. It’s their choice to make these available to me, trusting me to respect their privacy.

A few things to consider:

  • Some parents don’t post photos at all on the internet. Others are more trusting of human nature and post whatever they want. I would bet there many who haven’t given it much thought.
  • Be aware of the privacy settings you use on social media sites. I am most familiar with Facebook where you can set up lists of specific people you selected to receive a post. You can also change and audience after you post something.
  • Remember it’s possible for someone to download a photo, even if you disabled sharing. It only takes a couple of extra steps.
  • Be careful who you chose to share with. Maybe you connected with a friend at a recent class reunion and you’re now friends on social media. But you don’t know what this person has been up to or become in the intervening years. This even holds true for relatives and co-workers, unfortunately.
  • If you chose to post pictures of your kids with other kids, be aware other parents may not want their kids to appear on the internet.
  • Resist the urge to post locations of photos. This feature can be disabled on apps.

In my volunteer work with StreetLightUSA, I come across much information about the numerous ways that children are exploited. The internet makes this so much easier today, in many cases bringing the victim right to his or her exploiters/pimps/ johns. I haven’t even touched on the apps that make it easier for teens to meet the wrong people.

All this to say, be aware of what you do online, especially where your kids are concerned. You’re the first and best line of defense between them and the nastiness or even careless stupidity in the world.

More articles on this topic:

How to Protect Photos Online via Parents

Photos of Kids You Shouldn’t Post Online via Parenting

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (“COPPA”) FTC

Putting Children’s Pictures Online: What Are the Rules CNN opinion

Family Photos Could Be Pedophile Targets and Facebook privacy tools via Battle Creek Enquirer