It was the selfie that started everything. In 2008 I was sitting outside the operating room waiting for my wife to give birth to our second daughter. I was sausaged into the three sizes too small blue scrubs, with my cafeteria hair net, and my hospital mask so I could be inside when the baby was born. I snapped a scared, sort-of shocked picture of myself which would become the iconic image of Dadmissions. It was a selfie before the term selfie even existed and it launched me into a whole online world of documenting every aspect of my life as a dad and, as a result, the lives of my kids. In the weeks that followed, I started a separate page for Dadmissions when I realized most of the crap I posted on my own page was about my kids anyway. I had become THAT parent.
And now even as Dadmissions continues to grow, routinely being shared on top online sites like Mamapedia, Parenting, and The Huffington Post, I can't help but wonder if I've become a sell out. Have I been selling out my kids' memories for some shameless adoration and Facebook likes online? I don't know the answer.
When I jumped in the pool wearing jeans because my daughter couldn't swim at a party without an adult in the pool, did I do it because I wanted to or because I thought people would enjoy reading about it? When I wore a My Little Pony shirt the kids got me because they wanted me to wear one, did I wear it so I wouldn't disappoint them or because I thought it would be interesting to write about? When I went for my first mani-pedi with the kids on a dare did I do it because I love my kids or because I thought it would be great fodder online? When I wrote about first crushes, training bras, and insecurities about weight, was I writing for them... or selfishly writing for me?
I might be a sellout. What the hell have I done...
So I've been thinking long and hard about this and jotting down some ideas that might prove once and for all if I've just become THAT parent who sells out their kids online.
You might be a sellout too:
*If you write and laugh at the EXPENSE of your children instead of documenting the funny experiences you shared WITH your children... using the kids for a good laugh when they're not in on the joke... it hardly seems fair.
*If you tell the kids you're teaching them a lesson and then take a picture of them in a sandwich board, or holding a sign as punishment (my parents forced me to walk around with this sign, etc., etc.), and then blast the picture to millions of people online as opposed to just using it as a private teaching moment with your kids.
*If you document the conversations that would normally remain family matters between parents and their kids and then share them online justifying it to yourself that people can really learn or share from the experience and the commonality of parenthood.
*If you share photos or stories of the kids when they've explicitly asked you not to be posting that stuff online. So you're good for a while and try to abide by their wishes, but the itch to post something online eventually becomes too great and you just hit send.
*If you set up phony scenarios to videotape with your kids like singing funny songs, or dressing in goofy outfits, or lying to them so they freak out on camera (yes, Kimmel followers I'm talking to you!) just because you intend on posting that stuff online in the end because it'll be funny.
*If you exaggerate the simplest of experiences -- not necessarily lying about what happened -- but doing those slight embellishments that people do because you know it makes the story funnier, or more relatable, or more likely to go viral online.
I admit it. I've done some of these things... NOT others. I admit it. I've sold out my kids online occasionally because I'm part of the community of parents and it seems like the end justifies the means... we're all in this together right? I admit it. Parenting is tough as hell. We all need to laugh sometimes... right? And then part of me thinks it's not my fault. This is society nowadays. We are growing up in an online age and the kids better get used to it because they'll spend their entire lives there. And then part of me just thinks I'm just being an ass. When my wife tells me she'd quit Facebook except she's worried about not being able to see what I post then maybe it's time to check myself.
I'm a work in progress. I am here working to keep it honest and real and funny. I will work to respect my kids and their boundaries... as much as possible. But I do think jumping in the pool in jeans is funny as hell. I'm not about to stop ALL this stuff. But maybe I need to just keep it in mind more. Maybe we all do. So kids, my apologies ahead of time.
Do you think I'm a parenting sellout? Are you a parenting sellout? Find me on Facebook at dadmissionsthebook