FML: The New and Improved Version

Filed under: Opinions

FML picture

Say BYE to FML. Illustration by Dori Hartley

As part of the 2011 Own Your Beauty movement advocated by, Missy Germain recently wrote about her aversion to the phrase "FML":

"In 2011, I will delete each and every 'friend' who writes the words FML (F**k My Life) on their Facebook or Twitter pages. I want to surround myself with people who think positively and are willing to make the changes that need to be made without quitting -- even when life gets really hard ... Each and every time I read those letters (FML), the hair on my arms stands straight up and it's not a 'feel good' moment."

Hmm. Guilty.

I hadn't given much thought to those three little letters before. "FML" pops up frequently in these 140-characters-or-less times we're living in, as a nice zippy tag to get the point across to your peeps that things just aren't going your way. I've used "FML" to punctuate events as small as an unpleasant surprise beside the couch (for the record, some old dogs cannot be taught new tricks) to Parenting Fail moments (say, collaring and scolding the wrong child) to the sadness that I just can't shake, the melancholy that just won't let up.

Daily, as both writer and mother, I work hard to teach my daughters that words have power -- the power to change our thinking, our behavior, the way we define ourselves. So, what the hell am I doing, muttering "FML" under my breath? "FML" is not a mantra I want to pass on to my girls. There's no strength or fight in "FML," just self-bashing and defeat.

Why bash ourselves, when others are plenty ready to do the bashing for us? I've never bought the line about sticks and stones. Words hurt, and hurt badly. I thought my last post here at First-Parent Singular -- a piece on stumbling across my ex-husband during a foray into online dating -- was about as controversial as a bar of Ivory soap. I've written online for years, but the nasty comments ("picky bitch," "twit," "f*cking women ruin everything") still make me wince.

I'm pretty sure I could serve up a brilliant piece on curing cancer, erectile dysfunction, and bad hair days -- and throw in a recipe for world peace -- and I'd still get comments telling me I need to get laid and shut the eff up. As my 7-year-old likes to point out, "Even grownups can be bullies." They thrive online, flinging heavy words like rocks and fists. Any first-grader out there can tell you it's one thing to disagree; it's another thing entirely to throw a cheap punch from behind the mask.

I can't do a damn thing about the words anyone else chooses to define me. But, like Germain, I'm going to pay closer attention from now on to the words and phrases I'm using in my own mind.

So I've got a few ideas for the recasting of FML. Feel free to borrow, unless you think I'm a twit, in which case, feel free to go FYL.

Sayonara, F*ck My Life. Introducing the New and Improved FML Team: Forgiving My Life. Friending My Life. Finding My Life.

I'm fascinated by people who profess to have no regrets, who say they are absolutely certain of every decision they've made. I'd like to be one of those people, but I don't know how to stop missing our four plates at the table, our four toothbrushes in the bathroom, our four voices at bedtime. I'm finding my way by writing about a life that doesn't quite fit me, not yet. I am still breaking in this new life, like a pair of stubborn shoes.

In the meantime? I'll work on breaking in a new vocabulary.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.