Mothering in the Time of Facebook

laptopBeing on social media has advantages when you’re parenting for the first time. I had my previously-written-about group of awesome internet friends. I could share pictures of my new baby with my friends and family (whether they wanted to see 100 pictures of slightly different expression variations or not.) I could chat with all my friends from the comfort of my postpartum nest.

But there is also a big disadvantage to seeing how your friend/cousin/past co-worker/freshman-year-roommate etc do with the whole parenting thing. This disadvantage is that no one wants to share negative experiences. (Except maybe a few of those chronic complainers in our lives.)

The pictures we see of birth and those first few days, mom looks tired but proud, dad is beaming, baby is contentedly sleeping and being loved on by everybody.

The updates we get are about how much the new parents are in love with their new little guy. About how cute he is when he sleeps. About how much he’s eating. About the clean bill of health at the pediatrician. About all the visitors and how much fun it is to show him off. About how proud the older sibling is. It goes on and on.

This is not to say that these pictures aren’t accurate. Or the updates untrue. But we aren’t getting the complete story either.

And it’s hard feeling like maybe you’re the only mother with chapped nipples. Or a bottom that is so sore, you can’t bear to poop. Or a baby who screamed his first night home from the hospital. Or uncontrollable weeping. Or breasts that feel like they are going to explode. Or a baby that won’t wake up to feed. Or who is fighting with their spouse because he isn’t changing the diaper fast enough. (I’m pretty sure that happened to me.) Or that the older sibling is doing nothing but saying they wish the baby would go back in your belly. Or even worse, that the older sibling keeps smacking the baby and shrieking.

You really aren’t the only mom going through this. And when my friends (and former co-workers, and that girl who rode my bus in high school) have babies, sometimes I drop them a line on social media. I say: “hey. so I hope you’re enjoying your new baby. But on the off-chance you are having a tough time (and I hope you’re not) you’re okay. You’re not the only one that feels overwhelmed. Hit me up if you need to complain.”

It’s always good to remember that we all share the moments that come together nicely, when everyone is happy. Of course we share it. And who doesn’t love an adorable newborn picture. But this doesn’t just happen in the newborn phase.

Sometimes it seems your friends are always taking their kids on neat trips. Or their two-year-old is always cheerful. Or their house is always neat. Or whatever it is that you see that makes you feel less than.

Sometimes we have to step away from social media, be present in the moment. Enjoy the good, bear the bad, and laugh about the ugly. (I’ve only known one person to perfectly capture a poop-explosion in graphic photographs. But, good golly, those pictures were hilarious to the parents out there and horrifying to the non-parents.)

And maybe if you feel like tweeting about hemorrhoids, you’ll feel free. Surely someone out there will appreciate it.

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  1. Ashley bell August 1, 2014
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