Help Wanted: Extroverted empty nester in search of 'appropriate' social engagement



I sometimes use Facebook as my own personal online diary.

 

Apparently, this is “totally inappropriate” and “not what the app was designed for.”

 

I know this because my college-aged children (“digital natives,” according to Wikipedia) have told me so.

 

Repeatedly.

 

Now you may ask yourself why college-aged children are even on Facebook at all.

 

It’s because they need to screenshot my posts and send them to each other in a sibling group chat.

 

And so they can send me texts in the middle of the night that say things such as, “Omg. Delete.”

 

I have recently learned that Facebook is mainly a means by which I should be wishing people a happy birthday when the notification tells me to do so.

 

Sometimes I also am permitted to post first-day-of-school and other pictures to mark family milestones (as long as they have been approved by the photo’s subjects).

 

But under no circumstances should I be telling the universe (and all 622 of my Facebook friends) whatever random thought pops into my mind at 9:47 p.m. on a Thursday.

 

Noted.

 

But what these Snapchatting TikTokers don’t seem to understand is that it’s hard for Gen Xers like me to figure out how to navigate this territory.

 

Especially in the midst of a pandemic.

 

Especially if you’re an extrovert.

 

Bonus difficulty points if your kids are all moved out of the house and your husband has 29 years of practice in tuning out your cuckoo.

 

It is true that I have been known to post wacky stream-of-consciousness, but mainly I post (only partially apocryphal) stories about the fun and funny adventures of being a mom to three smart and hilarious (read: smart alecky) kids.

 

Sometimes I take to Twitter to mix things up.

 

Occasionally my followers tell me that our foibles would make good fodder for an Erma Bombeck-style book.

 

They claim they’d even buy it.

 

And read it too.

 

My kids have already picked out the title for this eventual masterpiece: “Mom, Your Tweets are Stupid.”

 

Honestly, if I can’t use Facebook and I can’t go into the office and I can’t hang out with my kids or go out dancing with my bestie or talk my husband’s ear off anymore, I don’t know what I’m going to do to keep myself entertained and engaged.

 

I’ve already binge-watched every show that’s ever been produced.

 

At the start of the pandemic, I completed my kids’ baby books by picking random dates that seemed plausible to record each of their “firsts.”

 

Spoiler alert: According to these official records, all three of them said “Mama” as their first word.

 

I know what you’re thinking, but I fed them, bathed them, clothed them, and diapered them.

 

More importantly, I am the one who made the logs of those years.

 

They owed me.

 

I’d get into the current sourdough craze but I don’t really want any bread and I don’t want to wash any more dishes, especially since over the course of the last six months I’ve washed the same measuring cups approximately 40 billion times.

 

Don’t even come at me with a proposal to exercise.

 

I have no interest in sweating.

 

I may be bored, but I’m no masochist.

 

And I used up my crafty phase in 1997 when I hot glued everything under the sun.

 

I even have the burn scars on my thumbs to prove it.

 

There have been a few perks to the pandemic and this stage of my life, though.

 

While I tend to be a bit irreverent on my social media channels, now that I’m pushing 50, my filter fell off IRL too. (That’s “in real life” for all you Boomers.)

 

And I kinda like this Zoom business.

 

You can turn on your microphone and pontificate all you want in meetings and then you just mute yourself and start a text chain with other people on the call who you know totally agree with you.

 

Sometimes, your Wi-Fi drops off when you’re in the middle of a webinar.

 

Sometimes, it even happens on its own and you don’t have to press the little X at the top of the screen to make yourself disappear.

 

I know I said that I want to be engaged and connected as much as possible, but we all have our limits.

 

I’m going to try much harder to be more adjusted to this new lifestyle sans children living at home.

 

I also promise to try to be less embarrassing to them on Facebook and Twitter.

 

But how else am I going to get their attention?

 

Or get them to take care of me?

 

Remember, those kids owe me.

 

Maybe I’ll learn Snapchat.

Read more articles by Kathleen Osborne.

Kathleen Osborne is the mother of three children who now are legally considered adults, although she has trouble assigning that label to herself. She is the marketing and communication director at Hathaway Brown School, where she’s inspired by creative, smart, and confident girls every day.

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