Shut up. Just shut up. I am this close to unfriending you. And you. And you and you and you.
Social media has a way of making people—namely mothers—feel inadequate. Feel like failures. Not creative enough. Not involved enough. Not fun enough. Not motherly enough. Just not … well … enough.
And it pisses me off because motherhood is hard. We all do our best. We all just do it differently.
I was completely overwhelmed my first three years of motherhood. I read every single article shared by other mothers on my social media feeds. Reading these articles—these supposed cold-hard truths—didn’t make me feel more knowledgeable or confident. They made me feel like shit.
These articles, statuses (what’s on your mind?), crafts, recipes—hell even crafty recipes—made me feel like crap. Because I had never thought to consider these things—and worse, reading these posts won’t make me change. Reading these articles will educate me that red food dye might cause cancer. But, reading the article will also guarantee to make me feel guilty every time I twist around in my car to hand my son the red lollipop at the bank drive-thru.
Oh, and then there’s the obligatory happy family pictures at adorable places. You’ve seen it. Look at us! We are so happy and coincidentally wearing coordinating outfits at the beach. Look at us! We are so happy and laughing hysterically at this trendy restaurant where our children are behaving perfectly. Look at us! We are so happy and just in love with life at this park. Look at us! We ski. We vacation. We snuggle. We hike. We smile all f*cking day long.
Stop it now. Because no, no you don’t.
When I was a new mom, my husband made me quit using my favorite website that had endless baby information and forums for moms with babies the exact same age. I was obsessed. These stranger moms were my go-to gurus (even though they were brand new, like me) on any topic. I don’t know why, but I trusted that they knew more than me on everything.
“Stop going on that website, Emme!” my husband would beg.
“But I love it! I always learn so much,” I’d argue.
“You always think that our perfectly healthy baby has a terminal illness,” he’d point out.
He was right. Who were these women anyway? Why was I so brainwashed that their opinions were fact? Why do they have so many opinions anyway?
I never posted answers, or opinions. I only asked questions. Was this website a social experiment between the dominant and the submissive? Where was my own intuition? I must have it…
I deleted my account and began to parent using my own tools: my gut, my heart and my fucking brain. If I had a concern, I’d call my mom or a friend. I wouldn’t reach out to a million strangers who were eager to bark advice and make me feel incompetent.
I soon realized that I needed to do something about the passive-aggressive Facebook advice that draped my newsfeed daily. I knew the posts weren’t intended to offend, but they did, in their sneaky back-alley ways. I knew it was mostly my own insecurities making me feel inadequate. These posts weren’t from strangers; they were from friends, or Facebook friends (there is a difference) probably just looking to inform. Head’s up: GMOs. Head’s up: Dry drowning. Head’s up: Sugar. Head’s up: Human trafficking.
I’m the first to admit that I love social media. I love the quick moments of escape it allows. I love seeing weddings and new babies. I love a funny anecdote, and I’m sucker for an inappropriate meme.
I tend to ignore the political rants. I brush by the sport fanatics. The network marketers don’t bother me, and I can’t resist donating to a GoFundMe page, regardless the cause.
So, I knew what I needed to do: I needed to engage only in posts that brought me pleasure. I became certified in scrolling. Just keep scrolling. Just keep scrolling.
Within a short time, not only did I find that I was spending less time trapped in the vortex of Facebook, but I was becoming a better mother. I stopped comparing my messy, loose parenting style to this perception of perfection portrayed on my screen by others. I started to just be a mom. I became less anxious, less unsure of every move I made. If I screwed up. . .eh, who cares? And more, who’s going to even know? My kids, my business. Nobody else’s.
Social media and the Internet has made motherhood maddening. We are too informed with loads of data that is often contradicting and/or frightening. I envy the pre-technology moms who pretty much gave birth, hoped for the best and then sent their kids to college.
No matter what image we portray on Facebook, we are all basically the same. We are all exhausted. We all yell sometimes. We all second guess. We’ve all had days when they’ve had way too much screen time. We’ve all woken up with hangovers and thought, “FML, how am I going to do it today?” We’ve all sometimes let them eat too much crap, or caved into their nagging just to shut them up.
And it’s all okay. Whatever kind of Facebook mom you want to be, go for it. We’re in it together. So, let’s truck through the next 10+ years then meet up for a drink when we’re empty nesters. We can reminisce about how much we miss their younger years. We can wake up with wicked hangovers and go back to sleep. Hell, let’s even take some selfies and put them on Facebook. But, make sure I look good.