This week marked the one-year anniversary of "Lovin' the Alien." Wow. What started as a personal online journal (remember, Doogie Howser anyone?) has evolved into something bigger, and something incredibly satisfying for me. I've authored 120 posts and racked up about 17,500 page views from more than 100 countries. And, the blog itself has three times as many Facebook friends as I do.
To put this in perspective, Google gets 34,000 hits per second. That's right, my total hits for the year is slightly more than half of their hits per second. Facebook gets 100 billion (yes, that's billion with a B) hits per day.
Okay, so I'm not going to be an Internet millionaire any time soon. I'm not even close to one of the most popular mom blogs, dooce.com, that gets 100,000 hits a day. (Although, in all fairness, Heather Armstrong posts about much more personal and consequently, in this age of voyeurism, alluring material: her swinging single days, idiots at her office, her bouts with depression and now her "trial separation.")
But, "Lovin' the Alien" has gotten some professional attention. It's been featured a couple of times in the "Wednesday Five" in Women's Voices for Change. I received a call from an associate producer on The Anderson Cooper Show to see if my daughter and I would like to appear to talk about tweens and their addiction to electronic media (we declined). I considered auditioning for a new Mommy Bloggers reality TV series. Really, I considered it for about 26 seconds.
Best of all, while she may not be my biggest fan, my daughter is still talking to me. Well ... sometimes anyway. I've offered her several opportunities to guest blog. This is usually met with the same reaction I get to most suggestions. Rolled eyes, flared nostrils, curled lip, maybe a muttered "Yeah, right." Translation: "Yeah, right. When pigs fly. When the Earth stops spinning. When anything you could possibly propose, Mommy Dearest, would be even the slightest bit cool." I'm not exactly holding my breath.
Tween disdain aside, over the past year, what has been most gratifying has been the feedback I've received from other moms. I've heard from many mothers of teens ("it will get better"), many mothers of younger kids ("you're scaring me") and many, many (many, many, many) other mothers of tweens ("thank goodness I found you; I thought I was the only one").
Here are some of the very grooviest things my very groovy readers have shared:
On the terrors of tweens (and losing it sometimes):
"Whenever I was strong-willed, or wanted to do something non-traditional, well Mom and I would fight, and fight hard, mean and nasty. The good news? I'm 43 now. I treasure every minute I have with my Mom. I have the wisdom to know how lucky I am to have her in my life still."
"But it does get better, trust me! You will be appreciated again someday. In the meantime, motherhood will continue to be the most thankless job. Comfort yourself with the fact that if your daughter ever gets to be a mother herself, she'll get payback in spades."
"Oh, don't I know it! :-) And I bet that after that outburst of yours, you went to your daughter's room and looked at her with so much remorse in your heart and love in your eyes. And you felt like a most terrible mother and you would go to sleep berating yourself for how crazy you were. Oh well, I should be speaking only for myself. :-) But if you feel that way, you got a kindred spirit here. :-))"
On clean (and not so clean) rooms:
"Hhmmm, daughters...the spice of life! As early as six months old I'm already begging my daughter to please keep things neat and tidy in her future room."
"One thing I've never been able to understand is that my daughter actually also has a neat freak hiding inside her. Yet somehow, she can stand to live in utter squalor for long periods, until she goes into a cleaning frenzy. No matter how many times I try to explain that if you just don't let it get messy in the first place, you won't have to spend so much time and energy cleaning it up, I always get the same response: 'You just don't understand!' "
"But for those few moments when you're buying them something, anywhere, it's wonderful how they will agree to anything you say!"
"I have two daughters, and I refuse to let them be slaves to the ever changing fashion scene. When they are adults, earn their own money and buy their own clothes THEN they can satisfy whatever whim they wish, but until that point, they get one shot to get their clothes and if they go out of style before they outgrow them, then that is just too bad." (BTW, Rachel W., you are still my hero!)
"I totally agree that tweens don't need to advertise for Playboy or be hypersexualized in general. Girls have the rest of their lives to be skanks if they choose, but let's let them grow up and decide for themselves. My girls will NOT be wearing slutty garb or clothes with recognizable (and suggestive labels) while they're under my roof."
On torturing your tween:
"A friend of mine recently mentioned that when he wants to embarrass his teen kids, he drops them off at school and, as they are getting out of the car, he calls, "Bye, honey. I love you! Make good choices today!" I think that one is hysterical!"
"We're dealing with the same issue with my 12-year-old and came to many of the same conclusions. We monitor usage, like we do when our daughter's surfing the internet. We also try to instruct her to the reality that she's "publishing" on Facebook and thus sending out to everyone not just friends. Also family has friended her excessively (yea)."
"When I was a kid, many of my closest relatives passed away. Not a single one of those deaths comes close to the grief I endured when my Yorkie, Fiorello, died."
And on life itself:
"This one is my favorites: "Adolescence is a period of rapid changes. Between the ages of 12 and 17, for example, a parent ages as much as 20 years." … Unknown"
There's sometimes bad news:
"I don't know how to tell you this, I don't want to break your heart, or ruin your life but someone needs to tell you, It gets worse! I'm sorry it does,It gets so bad you wonder why you didn't just stay on birth control!"
And sometimes there's good news. A final fan post that really made my day (and still makes me smile nearly six months later):
" I have a 15 year old daughter and it's very difficult to find humor in her behavior. When I read your blogs I find hope! You open my eyes and make me realize that I shouldn't take her so literal. I should understand that I can't let my feelings get in the way and that some day she will love me again and she won't be the "alien". Thanks for your wonderful, humorous views!"
Wow, you are so welcome! Thanks everyone. And, happy new year!