Though I've been writing Mummy Buzz for years, I'm still somewhat mystified as to which stories will resonate most with our readers. And 2014 was no exception.
These are the biggest stories - the ones that caught your attention most - this year:
10. Another day, another jerk on a plane. As parents we need to occupy our kids, and it's a constant struggle to keep them quiet. But when this mom refused to make her daughter wear headphones, and became belligerent with security in a viral YouTube video, she lost the sympathy of many of our readers.
"Since when do a parent's or child's rights trump that of every other person on the planet? It's this kind of self-entitled attitude that gives us all a bad name."
9. We love Mila Kunis and "we" love her even more when she ripped into Jimmy Kimmel for using this common misleading phrase. It was zero for Kimmel and one for pregnant women everywhere.
"... we can't have shots of tequila. We can't have anything, because we've got your little love goblin growing inside of us."
8. In a daring move, this Australian mom and cancer survivor took off her red dress in Facebook photos. Though she lost many of her so-called 'friends' by exposing herself, you called her a hero.
"Each day we walk past people. These individuals appear normal but under their clothing sometimes their bodies tell a different story ... cancer effects everyone. The old and the young, age does not matter, self-examination is vital. It can happen to you."
7. A couple issued a retraction of a birth announcement for their daughter—19 years later—under the header "Oops our bad." It seems they had a son all along. A short and sweet newspaper ad spoke volumes about unconditional love. Acceptance starts at home.
"If all parents were as accepting of their children as they truly are—rather than as we want them to be—maybe then we have a shot at raising a generation of self-aware, accepting, and kind future adults."
6. The story of Britain's youngest ever parents—12 and 13 years old respectively—resonated with readers, not purely for shock value, but because they claim to be very much in love and committed to raising the baby together.
"She’s brought something beautiful into the world and we’re going to stand by her."
5. Who is this actress posing on the red carpet and what has she done with Renee Zellweger? That's the burning question many people were asking after we posted before and after pictures of the actress after she appeared on an awards show with a radically different face.
"The fact is, while it's terrible that people feel the need to pass commentary on a celebrity's appearance, in this case at least I don't feel most people were doing so out of malice so much as out of genuine mystification."
4. Jenny McCarthy's "rule following" son proved that he's too cool for school when he called the cops on his mom for texting while driving. She may have poked fun of him on live radio, yet you applauded him for being more clued up than his feckless mother.
"She should be thanking her son for potentially saving both their lives; instead, she apparently threw his phone out the window."
3. In the year that was all things 'Frozen,' it's little wonder that the parody of 'Let it Go' by a blogger struck such a nerve on YMC. The lyrics as they pertained to moms were hilarious and spot on.
"Don't let them in
Don't let them see
Take a moment to yourself
2. Robert Munsch is one of Canada's best loved children's authors, yet few of us knew the real and deeply private meaning behind his classic, 'I'll Love You Forever.' And once you know, you will never view the book the same way.
"Eventually a haunting song grew into an equally haunting story about a mother's enduring love for her baby."
And (cue: drum roll) the number one most read Buzz story this year was...
1. A lot of drama over a certain photo of Willow Smith, the 13-year-old daughter of Jada and Will Smith. Willow's parents took no issue with a bedroom shot of their daughter with a much older family friend. But Child Services did. Was the photo a genuine cause for concern?
"There was nothing sexual about that picture or that situation. You guys are projecting your trash onto it."
Was 2014 a bad year for you? It was a terrible year for Eric Meyer. Not only did he lose his six-year-old daughter, Rebecca, he was recently reminded of the awful reality by his very insensitive computer.
Meyer was strangely gracious about the whole thing. He didn't blame Facebook programmers of the 'Year in Review' app for creating an algorithm that simply spits out the major moments in our social media timelines.
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Regardless of what Hollywood tells you, artificial intelligence can't distinguish between the emotion behind said major moments, be they heavenly or abjectly hellish.
"For those of us who lived through the death of loved ones, or spent extended time in the hospital, or were hit by divorce or losing a job or any one of a hundred crises, we might not want another look at this past year," wrote Meyer on his blog.
In other words, 2014 was a monumental year for Meyer, and one he will never forget. But not for any reason he wants to remember. So when the Facebook app depicted a party scene complete with streamers and balloons surrounding an image of his late daughter's smiling face, it ground the proverbial salt in this dad's wide-open wound.
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Meyer called the gaffe “inadvertent algorithmic cruelty,” and despite receiving a personal apology from the app's product manager, Jonathan Gheller, 'sorry' falls painfully short of excusing the error. After all, computers don't act of their own free will.
Behind every Mac and Microsoft is an accountable programmer—and this one screwed up royally.
"Where the human aspect fell short, at least with Facebook," wrote Meyer, "was in not providing a way to opt out. The Year in Review ad keeps coming up in my feed, rotating through different fun-and-fabulous backgrounds, as if celebrating a death, and there is no obvious way to stop it."
Bored to death? Turns out, there's more truth to that turn of phrase than we care to admit. While occasional bouts of boredom can spur us to creative feats, being bored can actually be harmful.
While the greatest ideas can come when the mind is in a quiet - even humdrum state - chronic boredom can actually drive us to indulge in hurtful activities such as taking drugs, drinking, smoking, even eating to excess. (Show of hands who can vouch for that, after the recent holidays?)
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“Boredom at work is propping up the confectionery industry,” says psychologist at University of Central Lancashire, Sandi Mann. Consider the afternoon slump that lures many an office worker to the vending machines!
Boredom is healthy and serves an evolutionary purpose to the extent that it propels us to move forward and try new things. Boredom can lead us into uncharted, innovative territory. In kids, it boosts imaginative play.
But can boredom kill you? Yes, apparently. A study of middle-aged civil servants in the UK proved that boredom can actually shave years off your life. Lingering boredom can point to an existential crisis or ennui in need of probing.
Instead of embracing occasional boredom as a chance to "get out of the box," we try to avoid it at all costs. Waiting in line for a coffee or stuck at the doctor's office? Whip out your smartphone, fidget, or flick through a magazine. Even for a matter of minutes, doing nothing is a real struggle.