I don’t care how many “friends” you have on the Book, it is not your friend, especially if you are a mom like me. I like to think of outlets like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest as the ultimate “frenemies” of mommyhood. Before you starting saying “but Robin, you use Facebook and Pinterest too… you promote your freakin’ blog on here, for Christ’s sake,” allow me to explain.
I was in college when Facebook first came onto the scene. It was hard to foresee that it would eventually take over where My Space started and pave the way for its virtual descendants such as Twitter and SnapChat. Facebook was originally created as a social network among college students. Only those enrolled in accredited universities could create a profile and immediately begin interacting with each other. College was hard! And it was awesome to have other 18 to 22 year olds to lament with about the troubles and first world problems that accompanied a life on campus. In fact, students at my Alma Mater petitioned Facebook to include Bethune-Cookman as a college that could be registered on Facebook. You see, only colleges that were acknowledged by Facebook were allowed to be represented. You also had to prove you were a college student. I believe this was simply done by registering a real college email address (I guess they had fancy ways of checking the validity of such).
Since those humbling early 2000s days, Facebook has blossomed to boost pages and groups for just about anything you can think of. And this includes groups for us Mommas. Social media outlets have given us forums in which we can connect to each other and stay connected to one another despite pretty impressive distances among us. We can get amazing ideas for DIYs from Pinterest, share cooking successes via photos over Instagram, and find babysitters and other like-minded women to make up our Momma Tribe on Facebook. In these ways, and more, social media has been a blessing.
But can I be real a minute? I mean really real. And this may sound really mean, and maybe even a little bitter. But I hate what social media has done to us moms. We saw it on Bad Moms, wherein Mila Kunis’ character, Amy, addresses the crazy, and unrealistic pressures to be the perfect mom during her PTO president speech. There are so many expectations of what makes a good mom. But at the same time, there are so many contradictions. This shit starts when we are pregnant, doesn’t it? I saw it first hand. Most women face a lot of shit for either choosing to have or having to have a C-section, sometimes by doctors, midwives, doulas, family members, and other mommas… you know… the folks who are supposed to have your back? There is the great formula vs breastfeeding debate. Breastfeeding has only really become popular in recent years and since then, there seems to be a overwhelming amount of shaming for those who formula feed for any reason. Simultaneously, if you nurse your baby in public, you are a certified whore. Do we push our babies in strollers or wear them until they are two? Do we feed our children nothing but gluten-free, peanut-free, dairy-free food or whatever the hell they will eat so they don’t starve? Spankings or Redirection? Public, private, or homeschool? If you work, how dare you! How can you be away from your children all day? Don’t you know you are missing so much! How can you trust someone else to raise YOUR child. You are not being a good mom! If you stay home, hmmm must not be educated or you must be lazy AF, depending on your husband to take care of everything for you. What do you do all day long, anyway? Sit on your ass, watch TV while your child runs around in circles? You are not being a good mom! And then suddenly, we find something that works for our child… something that helps us feel like the mom we knew we could be. But uh oh, here comes child number 2, and that shit is not flying with her AT ALL! You better figure it out Mom… you know it’s on you… ALWAYS. Are you being too hard on your kids or not hard enough? Do you do enough to help them with their school work? Why haven’t you gotten a tutor yet? Get off your kids backs! Let them be kids! Ugh… it never ends!
And how does social media play into all this? Welp, see your friend? You know her. We all have her. You know, the perfect one? Yea… let’s just call her Christine. Well, Christine just had her fourth child and is already getting back to her pre-pregnancy weight. She had absolutely no trouble at all breastfeeding. Her three other kids are superstars: one is always on the honor roll, the other is an excelling soccer player, and the other is already reading on a 1st grade level AT FOUR! And don’t even get me started on that girl’s hubby. I mean he is just the sweetest, most attentive guy you’ll ever meet. He always just seems to know when she needs a break, always brings her flowers, cooks and cleans, and he takes her on at least 1 kid free vacation a year. She deserves it! After all, she’s raising their four beautiful perfect children in an absolute dream home in the best suburb in the state known for its A++++++ school district. By the way, this home is always clean, always organized, and is chock full of delicious organic foods from which she makes from-scratch meals every single day! And how does she seem to do all of this miraclousness with a full time job making close to six figures, which allows her to work from home most of the week? And didn’t she just get a promotion too! I thought most companies looked down on woman with loads of kids? I guess she hit another home run with that one too. Christine has got it made in the shade with pink lemonade! And it was only, oh I don’t know ,15 years ago that you two were hanging out in high school, partying and bull-shitting the days and nights away. You two were on the same path, dammit. Her life was supposed to be your life too. How in the hell did she get so damn lucky!?
And you know what? Unless, you two were attached at the hip, chances are that after college, pre-FB, the only contact you would’ve made with her was via phone, email, good old fashioned quill and paper, or possibly a trip to see each other. Her life wouldn’t be splashed all over your news feed EVERY SINGLE DAY. You wouldn’t constantly be inundated with images via Instagram of her seemingly perfect life. There wouldn’t be 1001 pins from her highlighting her recent crafting and DIY attempts, which by the way are also perfect. Honey, you know that if you would’ve attempted to build your kids a cute little playhouse in the backyard with reclaimed wood found locally at a upcycling center, that mess would’ve collapsed upon itself with one soft whew of the wind, probably busting your kid in the head. Yay! Now you’ve endangered the welfare of a child! You are lucky that you even still have a job since one of your kids is constantly getting sick or getting into trouble, at school and you’re always having to take private phone calls while on the clock or even leave your job to pick up the kid who always, no matter what, gets every single disease or outbreak that comes through that school. It’s no wonder at all you still even get paid a regular salary since you are in the super negatives in your leave accumulation which would explain why there’s no sunny tropical vacation waiting for you at the end of the year. In fact, to try to make up hours from all that leaving, you find yourself working almost 10 hour days having to pick up your kids from the sitters around 6:30 or 7 pm. And forget cooking! You have to get these hellions in bed for school tomorrow so yea it’s take out again, or maybe something you can throw in the microwave real quick. What? Fries are made from potatoes which grow in the ground so there’s your vegetable, you hippie! And really if by 5 years old these kids haven’t learned to wash themselves by now, then I guess they will learn by trial and error… real life consequences have a better impact don’t you know. And time for sports? Haha! That’s funny, cuz since you and your husband work full time jobs, who’s taking Johnny to karate tonight. You are lucky you can get him home to help him with his homework that he never seems to want to do, never seems to understand, and always wants to give you hell about. And who knew just having 2 kids would be so hard! None of these jokers took to breastfeeding, and both were C-section babies! You wanted so much to have a natural birth but your birth canal said “Nope! That’s what you get for marrying a guy who is like a foot taller than you!” You are still carrying that weight around too because you were much too sad after the births to want to do anything physical to get back into shape and now you just plain don’t have time. And your husband may be the love of your life but he honesty has no clue as to how you feel most of the time. He tries, God love him, but he is clueless. He’d have to be, right? Because if he honestly knew how tired and stressed out you were, why in the fuck would he feel so compelled to leave his stupid underwear and pajama pants on the floor RIGHT NEXT TO THE GOSH DERN LAUNDRY BASKET. Honey, love, it isn’t that hard… just open the freaking lid, put the clothes in, and close! It’s right next to your bed, the shower, the dresser etc… Literally anywhere that could be within a toss from wherever the fuck you undress everyday! And don’t get me started on those bloody video games which, on some nights, is all it seems that he could give a shit about. RYU AND BISON AREN’T REAL! THIS ISN’T REAL STREET FIGHTING! STOP YELLING AT THE TV! Oh, it’s a mess.
So you see, all this wouldn’t be so bad if Christine wasn’t up in your face all the time. Well, not literally, but still it is hard not to envy what she has, isn’t it? It’s what we fantasize about as girls; it’s what we are led to believe is our right to a happily ever after. To be loved entirely and completely and to be shown that love every day. To have beautiful, well-behaved, respectful, and intelligent little humans. To have a career, if chosen, that will flourish and yield lots o money but at the same time supports our need to mother and nurture our little ones. To have a beautiful home that’s clean and stays clean. To be able to cook and provide nourishing meals for our family without a whole lot of effort… meals that, you know, aren’t pushed away because they are “yucky.” To never be for want or need… and be able to vacation once a year with the kiddos, and once a year without. And these means of social media almost force us moms to put out that these ideals in some way or another are our life… all… the… time. Of course, we are blessed beyond measure in our lives. Hell, just being alive and healthy with a roof over our heads, clothing on our backs, and food in our belly is awesome! #SoBlessed. However, as moms, we know this is not our reality everyday. Some of us might be blessed like Christine and be like… “ay that ho is definitely me!” But for most of us… come on. It’s a struggle some days just to get out of bed, knowing that more than likely your little blessings have beat you to the day and have probably already destroyed your sanctuary before 7 am. #SoBlessed indeed.
Social media compels many of us, guilty as charged, to put out images of our lives that reflect the goodness of it all… as though we have got it all figured out. That our lives are something out of Better Homes and Gardens. In actuality, it is not. None of us have it figured out. Moms haven’t had it figured out since Eve and it’s not a knock, friends… it’s truth. We are all a hot ass mess and are winging this thing one day at a time, let’s be real. Some days we get the bear, and other days, most days it seems, the bear mauls the fuck out of us. Our kids can be assholes… sorry to say. If it hasn’t happen to you yet, if you are one of those lucky broads whose kids are absolutely perfect, your day is coming, friend. #Truth. And our spouses who love us so much… they are great, but they can also be insensitive jerks too. It’s hard for them to know what is going on in our heads, even if we’ve been with them for 9000 years. And when you add kids to the mix, the language barrier between husbands and wives can get even more jumbled. And how can you be intimate with each other and barely speak the same language? Sorry, unless you put some crazy effort into your marriage every day, kids will take over that bitch too… they take over everything! No one is going to put that on FB… no body wants to see that realness… just the fluffy stuff that keeps us hating but always coming back for more.
I will end with this. I do not rebuke social media for its evil ways. All things are with a purpose, and there are ways to use social media for good. I have seen friends promote independent businesses through the magic of FB and Instagram. I have, myself, been able to keep in touch with friends and family even though my husband and I and our 8000000 kids (kidding… but it feels that way sometimes) will have moved to 5 different states in 4 years come this June. #Spoileralerttocomesoon. I have been able to share videos of the kids doing amazing things with loved ones who otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to see them because of the fact that we move around so much. #ArmyStrong. Heck, I have resorted to using social media for the daily laugh and realness as I post a single meme per day regarding such topics as motherhood, funny quotes, and inspirational sayings about reading or writing. I have found that social media outlets are a great way to promote some of my work, including this here blog. And I remain part of some mom and military wives pages in an effort to get questions answered or to find a group of women who are of the same mindset as me. This is incredibly important for my sanity, especially since I move around so often.
But we must not find ourselves obsessed. We shouldn’t live to look at a screen the whole day through. I know it is challenging not to want to press that FB or Instagram icon every time we pick up the phone. It can be hella hard to just take a picture and just save it… print it out even and hang it on the wall so that our family can enjoy our private moments. But those pictures would look so much better on Instagram, we reason. See, Christine, my kid made the honor roll too! Just look at this 30 minute video! And friends, look, I know I’m guilty of this. I shamefully must admit that within an hour of giving birth, Maya’s picture was on my page. Looking back, I should’ve waited, savored those precious moments with my family first. Our lives are just that… they are ours and ours alone. It isn’t necessary, and it is downright a waste, to spend most of our day on social media needing to scope through our friends’ business while uploading most of our own so that all may know what great lives we have made for ourselves. Putting out positivity is good for the soul. But just know, friend, that I know. I know your life, like mine, isn’t perfect. I know that things may in fact be falling apart around you. That you are pregnant again and are not very happy about it, or are pregnant for the first time and are scared to death. That your job is death, but it pays the bills which are piling up by the second because that separation or divorce is really taking a toll on you. That your marriage isn’t turning out to be what you thought it would be, and things are getting harder and harder everyday. That your children are struggling with their academics, extracurriculars, behaviors, and you are absolutely at a loss as to what to do. That your big ass house that you worked so hard to save for is just that… a big ass house that is impossible to keep clean so you don’t anymore. Most of your shit is in boxes or bags thrown in the many many storage closets your Realtor stressed that you needed! And it really sucks that every time you turn around, something else needs fixing! Ah, the joys of home-ownership! That you are dying as a stay at home mom… that you are so lonely it hurts and that you’d give anything for some adult interaction so much so that you are willing to spend hours on the phone with your MIL!
So screw FB! Forget Instagram! Piss off Pinterest! While these portray images that our wildest dreams are made of, most of them aren’t our reality and no where close to the everyday reality of our com padres. When we continue to use these portals as devices for bragging, we are perpetuating the need to compare ourselves with one another which in turn fosters the competition that puts us moms in a place where we try to desperately to meet stupid and unrealistic expectations for what “good motherhood” means. It’s stupid so let’s just stop it! We are not good moms nor are we bad moms. We are just women with kids who are trying our damnedest to make good lives and experiences for our tiny humans. And sometimes, we just happen to be a hot mess doing so.
So turn that into a hashtag and post it.