Confession: I can’t kick Facebook.
Even though I generally have more fun with Twitter, even though FB can be fraught with drama, I can’t give it up. I have a great time wishing people Happy Birthday even if I haven’t seen them since junior high, I like looking at pictures of people’s kids and vacations and proms, I am seriously happy to have reconnected with teachers I’ve had and friends from Saukview School and people we only see occasionally on the road and to keep up with friends who live far away.
But I hate, hate, HATE FB drama. I hate when people use their status bar as a weapon or a way to vaguely suggest something BIG is going on so everyone will ask WHAT? These things are the sure ways for me to hit that ‘delete’ button.
There’s another button I’ve been using lot lately, though, and it’s the HIDE. Because I can’t believe some of the things people write… people whom I am certain would not say such things in Real Life. And I am not talking about the ‘drunk’ FBers, the bitter victims of break ups, or the chronic vulgarity-users. I’m talking about The Mommies, including the Good Christian Mommies, who seem to have the market cornered on what is good for EVERYone’s children.
I have always been a firm believer that everyone who seems to have it All Together likely doesn’t. I’ve told people before: I struggle with new mommies who have perfect figures, because mine is far from the less-than-perfect (but looking back 4 years and 25 pounds ago, pretty hot) one that I had pre-pregnancy. I admit, I have not made my shape a priority, though my appearance pretty much grieves me. I’m a hair and make-up girl, I take pride in looking nice, even if I’m going to just be home all day, but if one more person mistakes my Leftovers for another baby on the way, I might be performing lyposuction on myself. I have made many vows to go running, to stop eating junk, blahblahblah, but I haven’t stuck with anything. It’ MY problem, and when I see Beautiful New Mom of Infant who looks like she belongs in Maxim, it’s hard for me not to hate her a little.Furthermore, being around the skinnies makes me feel inferior.There. I said it.
OK. That was a tangent, and not the real issue here. the one I see running rampant among my 700 or so peeps on FB is the judge-y-ness of other people raise their kids. And it irks me to the bone.
When Rod & I got married 7 years ago, I returned to school to finish my teaching degree. It was a grueling process of a few years: I gave up a great job with great benefits, I was gone 4 nights a week for classes, and then there was the 15-week exercise in torture called Student Teaching (all while going through fertility testing, his dad’s long convalescence with Alzheimer’s, and other fun, blended family stuff). I was fortunate to score an immediate full time position… and then 4 months later, my miracle pregnancy stole the spotlight of my new career.
I had always assumed I would be a ‘working mom,’ but pretty much the moment that test shouted YES, I was in tears telling Rod I had no desire to leave my baby with someone else for 8-9 hours a day. I KNOW many moms don’t have a choice in the matter, and I respect that to the utmost, but I was blessed to have a choice. I had Miranda in November 2006, less than one year after earning my hard-won degree…and the way things are going, I’m fairly certain I won’t return to conventional teaching, at least not in the foreseeable future.
Of course I second guessed that decision, particularly in the first months as I still kept in touch with colleagues, as I missed my Career Clothes, as I longed for ‘something else’ to do. I tried a number of avenues (& I apologize for my brief MLM craze & thank all those who had parties for me). I never dreamed that by the time Miranda was 2 (& Kaity was still an infant), that I would have a work-at-home business with my husband, equal to a full time job in its hours, but less predictable than any job I’d ever had.
Working at home – and now both of Randa & KK’s parents do – brings with it a different set of boundaries and issues and decisions. Like every other parent, we are never really ‘off,’ but sometimes, we need to work while the kids are awake and there is no sitter. Sometimes I am giving an interview while they are screaming over a toy. Sometimes I am talking to my boss while helping someone potty, and many times while cooking dinner. Sometimes, God help us all, I plant my kids in front of the TV for a movie or two so I can ‘get some stuff done.’ This is often a source of guilt for me, but sometimes there is not a better option, and my Friends, a word I am using more and more carefully, understand.
Because there is a flip side to the chaos that is our work from home/work from the bus life. My kids have traveled extensively in their short lives. They have seen countless concerts, been to many kinds of churches, and made friends of all ages from people in many different regions. They can sing and have a sincere interest in music. They know how to recognize a time of prayer. They know how to adjust their schedules…on the road, they are often up past midnight and sleeping until 10am…and they are in great health.
Our “chaos,” our lack of convention, flexible schedule, incessant movie watching means that we get to be with our kids most of the time. It means we get to take them to work with us. It means we get to do fun things in different places because when we travel for work, we can often build in some fun time. It means, praise God, that after the madness of May & June, we can take most of July off, and likely December too… So the kids are pretty forgiving that during May & June, I don’t bake the bread, the pizza is out of the freezer instead of from scratch, and a playdate is 60 minutes at the park with a box of crackers instead of 3 hours at our house with a catered-style lunch.
Our “chaos” also means that things like potty training or craft time or a sugarless diet or whatever 21st century American mommies are supposed to do a certain way… doesn’t get done a certain way. And seriously, until you’ve tried keeping a 2 year old dry while schlepping her through the mountains on a 40 foot piece of steel or taking her in and out of 6 meetings in a day, you really can’t know. What I can tell you is that she will be potty trained…we’re not worried. Nor are we worried about the long-term affects on her health if she eats a cookie before lunch or a piece of taffy during a church service to keep her calm/content.
I am not responding to any specific criticisms I’ve received. My mommy friends mostly have lives completely different than mine, but are fully supportive of each other. We play off one another’s strengths and support each other in our shortcomings. I could not ask for better people to navigate this road alongside me.
And truly, I think much of these FB JUDGMENTS of which I speak are not meant to be so stinking critical. I just wish women would consider how their statements might sound to others. That kid wigging out in the store while your precious one is sitting perfectly still might have a tummy ache, might be a much-tossed-about foster kid, might have been in court that morning, might have a developmental difference, or might, you know, just be having a bad day like everyone else is entitled to do. That mom letting her child eat a TREAT instead of a meal? Perhaps they just came from dropping Daddy at the airport for a long trip, or the dog just went away on a permanent trip. And that kid who has a bottle, a sippy, mom’s milk, a diaper, a paccy, a blankie, co-sleeps, blahblah whatever longer than yours did? Ask yourself: why do you care?
I know there are some less-than-great moms out there and some kids who are just plain unruly. But how could we possibly tell the difference from a brief encounter? How can we possibly know what their lives are like? And really, are Pull-ups or processed American cheese or the occasional popscicle for lunch going to cause our children to drop out of school and develop into societal menaces? Is it going to make us better moms or our children better people if we are measuring our own successes by the “shortcomings” of others?
All we can do is the best we can do… and I think part of that best is choosing to support other moms and kids trying to figure this out instead of letting them know how to do it better/just like we would. Before you hit that ‘submit’ button, consider what others might post in response to seeing one of your challenging mommy moments.