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Modern Dad

Are ‘Facebook Memories’ a white-washed version of our lives?

By Jon Show. While sitting and contemplating life one morning in February in the only room a parent is guaranteed solitude, I grabbed my phone and popped open Facebook to see what people I used to be friends with, people I’ve never been friends with, neighbors, and people I’m somehow connected to because are somehow related to my mom, were up to.

At the top of my screen was one of those Facebook Memories that pop up every now and again. I love the Facebook memories. I didn’t sign up for a Facebook page until just before Future Man was born so in all my posts I’m either doing something fun with my kids, sarcastically complaining about my kids, or someplace celebrating because I’m not with my kids.

The one that popped up on that morning was a picture of me and Future Man wearing tie-dyed shirts and making faces at the camera. The memory, from 2013, read: “Five years ago, today, I drove home from work and recoiled as Michelle tried to hand me a strip of something she peed on. I declined and she told me we would soon be joined by what turned out to be one of the weirdest and most fun people I’ll ever know. I immediately chugged a Coors Light and googled ‘kids.’”

The pregnancy was planned so it wasn’t a total shock, but it was. The next day was Valentine’s Day and I bought my wife a pair of baby boy’s sports booties. She seemed surprised that I assumed we were having a boy. I didn’t understand at all why she was surprised. Thirty-seven weeks later, after 37 hours of labor, Future Man reluctantly entered this world, fell asleep for two hours, and then cried for three months.

As I looked at my Facebook app, exactly 10 years had passed since that night she handed me the pee stick. Have we done anything right the last 10 years? I have no idea. We have a 50-page manual for a gas fireplace that has an on/off switch. The OBGYN gave us a pamphlet when we left the hospital. A pamphlet.

Regardless, here we are. Future Man is nine and halfway through his childhood. He’s in the third grade. He’s shy and kind and has an old soul. He reads books and solves math problems using a method that looks like hieroglyphics to me. He loves lacrosse. He uses hair gel and has a preference for sock brands. He likes Florida-Georgia Line. Who could have seen that coming? Maybe God and your Mama. Certainly not me.

I’m not a big “time flies” person. At no point during infancy or pre-potty training did I want time to slow down. If it was scientifically possible to chose A) birth an infant, or, B) birth a three-year- old, I’m picking B every time. And if you forced my wife to answer the same question I’d bet the house she’d ask for a double dose of epidural and plan her newborn’s third birthday party.

But 10 years later it’s hard not to look back and wonder what just happened?

I sat there and flipped through Facebook pictures capturing 10 years of beach trips and fishing trips and bike trips and surfing trips. Soccer games, basketball games and lacrosse games. Boat days, snow days and sick days. Lost teeth and lost minds.

Yes, lost minds. Facebook Memories is a great curator of your past as long as you’re honest in the present. You can have your never-ending onslaught of #blessed photo shoots and #nofilter sunsets that create a whitewashed version of reality. In between the smiles I’d rather scroll through road trip tantrums and exploded diapers in the washer and second birthday pancakes that look more like question marks than the number two. Past finger poo painting and do-it-yourself haircuts and a screaming kid who won’t put on the Bam Bam Halloween costume I spent two hours putting together.

Years later all of those good and bad experiences make me smile. Though the Halloween one still smarts. I went to Jo-Ann’s Fabric for that kid.

If Facebook exists in 10 years I wonder what pictures I’ll flip through in 2028? The tween and teenage years are coming so I’m anticipating nothing but scowls and general displeasure at losing the life lottery and ending up with me as a father. Yes, I’ll nod. I am, in fact, the worst parent ever. Yes, I’ll say, your life would be happier if you lived with any one of your friend’s families.

Ten years from now he’ll (hopefully) be a freshman in college. Maybe he’ll have a girlfriend. Maybe he’ll play sports or maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll sing in an upstart boy band that fizzles out over creative differences during spring break.

The only obvious and rational conclusion is, who knows? As I look back on that drive home from work 10 years ago I never knew any of this would happen. But I’ve got my fingers crossed for the boy band thing so I can tell that story 20 years from now at his wedding reception.

Why would I do that? Payback for Jo-Ann’s. Old memories die hard.

Modern Dad is Jon Show’s take on life in Cornelius. This 40-something dad lives in Robbins Park with his wife and their two kids: Future Man, their 9-year-old son, and The Blonde Bomber, their 5-year-old daughter.