The latest issue of Parents Magazine features an article on “The New American Family”. The article is broken up into four sections – diversity, living with grandparents, marriage, and waiting to have kids later in life, along with a few additional fun facts.
The part that resonated with me is the section titled “Choosing not to marry”, which states that only 21% of American households are married couples with children, compared against 43% in 1950. The 2011 figure seems a bit low, but maybe that doesn’t account for many things including widows (ers) and kids who have left home?
The experts cited in the article point to pop culture icons like Brangelina and growing up in nontraditional extended families as reasons why the Millennial Generation (born between 1981 and 2000) views partners over spouses as being more important. Though I haven’t noticed this yet, marketers are also apparently placing moms and dads separately into ads, without wedding rings, surrounded by their kids.
If this is true - that more people in that age group with kids are choosing not to marry – why then are so many people still uncomfortable with that notion?
I (we) have chosen not to marry for a variety of reasons I won’t share here, but I will say that I (we) am (are) very happy! The Child is growing up in a happy home with parents that love her and one another tremendously.
I don’t mean to offend anyone or diss the sanctity of marriage. (I grew up in a very Catholic household.) I think marriage is a beautiful thing, it’s just not for me. This isn’t to say that I may never change my mind, but at this time and for the foreseeable future I am happy with the way things are – genuinely.
I used to craft my words carefully to make those around me more comfortable. I would use phrases like “her dad” or “my partner” to avoid saying “my boyfriend”, until I realized how absolutely ridiculous that is. I still notice a few friends and acquaintances who choose to say “significant other” instead of “her boyfriend” when talking about Manfriend or doing an introduction. Why is that?
I tend to laugh it off or make a joke about my baby daddy to lift the awkward air, but lately, I’ve tried to beat people to the punch by using that dreaded word – BOYFRIEND.
If TV ads and shows like “Modern Family” are pointing to more “nontraditional” families, why are certain people around me still uncomfortable or dare I say unhappy with my decision? And what the heck is a nontraditional family, anyway?
Judging solely on size and abundance, you might look at my garden and say, “She sure knows what she’s doing.”
The truth is this is my my third attempt at gardening. While fruitful, it isn’t exactly an organized ordeal, and I don’t consider a bucket full of tomatoes and zucchinis a complete success. Partial success – yes. After all, it’s edible and organic, but most of the time I don’t know what I’m getting because more than half of the garden is made up of volunteers.
The left, more robust side of the vegetable garden was a complete surprise. The right side I actually planted on my own, separating seeds and building troughs. I clearly have a lot to learn.
The other night as I heaved buckets of water to my garden because the hose doesn’t reach, I got to thinking – this is a lot like social media. A bit ridiculous, but I’m so consumed by social media that this actually crossed my mind.
So, I give you the similarities between gardening and social media.
- Deep rooted relationships. A garden or social media community doesn’t spring up overnight. It takes a lot of work and time. Sure the seeds I planted produced small, somewhat fruitful plants, but the left side of the garden flourished because the seeds were a result of composting; vegetables and foods that broke down over time, became a part of the dirt and had time to grow. If your business or brand has an existing, strong relationship with its customers prior to implementing a social media strategy, they will be your strongest and loudest ambassadors when you do launch because of that deep-rooted bond you’ve already created.
- You must iterate. Apparently for me, the third time isn’t the charm. My gardens have become better organized, but they’re not quite perfect. Your social media strategy will never be perfect. It is an ongoing, organic process that requires revisions along the way. Be willing to adapt and weed out what isn’t working for you.
- Celebrate! Celebrate milestones and fans, no matter how small or large they may be! Social media (and gardening) should be fun. You may never hit a million fans, and I may never successfully grow cucumbers, but I’m going to celebrate the 20 tomato plants that came up on their own, just as you should celebrate the five new fans you earned last week.
- It takes a community. I can’t claim a solo victory in my gardening skills. It was a collective effort between Manfriend and the compost pile. While social media is technically free, it takes time, money and resources. Be prepared to crowdsource for advice (and be willing to take it) and staff appropriately.
This marks my third burn, and perhaps the most peaceful. I can never compare against the first burn – I was a virgin, unsure of what to expect and excited by everything. Second burn I was crabby. Never again will I allow myself to ruin the experience. This burn was particularly special, because it was my first time seeing the Temple burn.
For those of you who have never experienced Burning Man, I’m sure you’re sick of hearing this, but it’s true – it’s impossible to explain or describe Burning Man to someone who hasn’t gone. Strangely enough, amidst the booze and dust, I find I have some of the deepest conversations on the playa. One guy I spoke with said, “This isn’t a counter culture event, this is culture.” Plain and simple.
There are more than 50,000 people on the Black Rock Desert behaving however and wearing whatever they please, yet there is no chaos or judgment. I think this is why it’s so hard to adjust to the “default” world, as it’s known on the playa.
Three days on the playa is sufficient for me. This year we actually went on a quest for camps playing anything but house music – not to say the music and the dance parties can be a ton of fun. The one thing I will never grow tired of is the Temple. This year it was the most beautiful work of art on the playa. I believe it’s worth traveling to Black Rock City just to experience it. It’s unbelievably powerful. Each year I’ve told myself I won’t cry without success. People from all over the world pour their heart into this structure with written messages and mementos of their loved ones. Messages of love, regret, joy and hope.
The first thing I saw upon reaching the Temple this year was a couple hanging a poster of their daughter, quivering lips, fighting back tears. The picture is of their daughter’s senior portrait.
The energy at the Temple is palpable and gripping.
Perhaps even more beautiful than the Temple itself is the burn. Tens of thousands of people gather to see it, and when it starts to burn the crowd grows completely silent.