Mothering Children in the Digital Age

by Jill Smokler
Originally Published: 

There has been much talk lately over our right to express these less than admirable feelings about our children. How dare we!? How will they feel in five or ten or 30 years should they stumble across a post or a tweet or a status update? Will their worlds come crashing down? The internet is foreeeeever, you know, and hastily written words can’t ever really be removed. Is it worth the instant gratification of expressing these emotions? Aren’t we selfishly putting our needs before theirs?

No. We are trying to fucking survive.

Motherhood is hard. The joyous and beautiful moments far outweigh the frustrating and infuriating ones, but they don’t comprise the complete package. If there is a mother out there who has effortlessly glided through this ride without a complaint, I want to know what pills she’s popping because it’s just impossible. Some mothers cope with alcohol, some cope with expensive shopping habits, some cope with extreme dieting, some cope with affairs… and some write. You tell me which is most detrimental to a family.

Our kids need us now. They need our love and our presence and our guidance right this very minute and if publishing a post or tweet or whatever helps me or any other mother get the bad feelings off of our chests and be present for our families, it’s worth it.

The love I have for my children is indisputable. Every decision I make is based, somehow, on its impact on them. They are my entire life and not a day goes by where I don’t shower them in love. But, am I perfect? No. More importantly, do they need to think that I am? If discovering that I found them momentarily annoying 15 years from now is the biggest tragedy my children ever face, I will consider them to be the luckiest people in the world and shall expect to be crowned Mother of the Millenium.

My posts, the guest posts I publish, the anonymous confessions and the book I wrote aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. That’s fine. There are a million beautiful sites out there on the perfection of motherhood and I invite you to join any of them — it’s your right to read what you want to. It’s not your right, however, to tell me or anyone else what we should or shouldn’t be doing. When a mother of special needs child writes that she loves her kids, but doesn’t always like them, it’s not your job to tell her she’s wrong. It’s not acceptable to act like that on the playground and it’s not acceptable on the internet.

I tell my kids that they don’t need to like everyone, but they need to treat everyone with kindness. I explain that when they don’t like something which doesn’t impact them, they just need to ignore it. To mind their own business and respect others. You know, the simple things we all learned from our parents so many years ago. The things some of us seem to have forgotten.

Sure, social media adds an element to parenting that our generation is the first to experiment with. We need to consider the words we put out there and be comfortable with our choices, knowing full well that our kids might someday read them. Personally, I’m pretty confident that we’ll have raised them with enough love and nurturing that they’ll be able to handle a few tongue in cheek posts.

Besides, if my kids aren’t able to grasp the concept of sarcasm, I truly have failed as a mother.

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